Domestic abuse is much more common than people think; one in four women and one in six men will experience it at some point in their lives.It can happen to anyone, in all types of relationships, regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability, sexuality, lifestyle, nationality or age. It's rarely a one-off occurence, but usually a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour.
There are sometimes varying definitions of what domestic abuse is. The Safer Somerset Partnership has adopted the HM Government definition of domestic abuse (March 2013) which 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.
The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
Controlling behaviour is:
A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is:
An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”
This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse can take many different forms, and victims (male or female) may be made to feel responsible and guilty for the abuse, and it can go on for years, often increasing in frequency and severity. Sometimes it only ends when one person kills the other.
What you can do if you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship there are three steps you can take:
- Recognise it is happening
- Accept that you (or the person you know) are not to blame
- Seek help and support