Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
Domestic abuse can be very isolating, and often goes unreported because the victim feels trapped and alone.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone over the age of 16. It can happen to anyone of any gender, religion, race or sexuality. It can happen in short or long-term relationships, with ex-partners or family members.
In December 2015, coercive or controlling domestic abuse became a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, even if it stops short of physical violence.
The new legislation will enable the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to bring charges where there is evidence of repeated, or continuous, controlling or coercive behaviour within an intimate or family relationship.
The CPS have said abuse can include a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation, or behaviour such as stopping a partner socialising, controlling their social media accounts, surveillance through apps or dictating what they wear.
Being subjected to repeated humiliation, intimidation or subordination can be as harmful as physical abuse, with many victims stating that trauma from psychological abuse had a more lasting impact than physical abuse. The government’s change in the law making coercive control a criminal offence is an important step forward in protecting victims of domestic abuse and helping them find a way out.
If you think you are experiencing any type of abuse, it is important to remember that it is not your fault and that there is support available.
If you are unsure, go with your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You may feel alone and that no-one can help you; but many people experience abuse and there are many services that can provide support.
You can speak to your teacher, GP, work colleague or any other trusted professional. Speaking to someone about what you are going through can help you to feel less alone and can support you in understanding your options.
A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children, by planning in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.
Womensaid provides information about domestic abuse and keeping safe in their survivors handbook.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse and you would like to speak to the police, you can do so over the telephone (by dialling 101) or in person at a police station. However, if contacting the police online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete a secure online reporting form.
Once you have contacted the police, a dedicated Lighthouse Victim Care officer will be assigned to your case, and they will help to ensure you get the support and help you might need – whatever the outcome of your case.
If you do not feel confident speaking to the police there are lots of other agencies that can support you, independent of the police. A detailed list of support organisations specialising in Domestic Abuse is provided on this website here.
Avon and Somerset's 'This is not an excuse campaign' was created to raise awareness of domestic abuse, rape and serious sexual assault and to signpost to organisations that provide help and support. This website gives you general information as well as guidance on help and support you may need to make the decision that is right for you.
There are a number of self-help guides available from various organisations. Please see links below: