Domestic abuse happens between adults, aged 16 or over. It can happen if they are in a relationship, and can continue after a relationship has ended. The abuser can be a woman or a man. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can happen when people live together or when they live in different houses. Domestic abuse can also happen between grown up children and their parents or one grown up child and another, living in the same house.
Although domestic abuse happens between adults, children can also be effected by domestic abuse by being bullied by the abuser or encouraged to take part in the abuse or simply by seeing or hearing the abuse. As someone aged 16 to 25 you might be the victim of domestic abuse or you might live in a home where domestic abuse is happening to you, your mother or father, or other adults in your house.
Domestic abuse happens without the consent of the other person or against their will. A person has not given consent if they are too scared to say ‘no’ or to fight back. Consent can only be given when both parties feel safe and free to choose whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Physical abuse is when someone intentionally causes someone else pain or injury against their will. This can include: hitting, slapping, thumping, biting, choking, burning, cutting, stabbing, forcing someone to drink bleach or other poison, forcing someone to take drugs or alcohol, throwing acid at someone and many other ways of hurting someone.
Emotional abuse is when someone intentionally tries to frighten, intimidate or humiliate someone else. This can include: shouting, screaming, threatening someone with a weapon, ignoring someone, telling someone they are stupid or ugly, threatening to do something to someone else or to themselves (eg threatening to kill themselves if you leave them) and many other ways of frightening, humiliating or intimidating someone.
Sexual abuse is when someone forces someone else to take part in sexual activities without their consent. This can include: touching someone sexually without their consent, forcing someone to have sex, forcing someone to watch sexual videos, forcing someone to take part in sexual videos, forcing someone to watch other people having sex, forcing someone to pose for naked or topless photos. There are many other forms of sexual abuse.
Financial abuse is when someone takes control of someone else’s money without their consent. This can include: stealing from them, forcing them to hand over their wages or student loan money, forcing someone else to pay for things for them, forcing someone to go out to work and then hand over their wages, stopping someone from going to work so they are dependant on the abuser for money or food, taking control of someone else’s bank account or debit or credit card. There are many other ways of controlling someone’s finances without their consent.
Coercive control is when someone uses physical abuse, threats, humiliation, intimidation or any other forms of abuse to frighten and control someone into acting in a certain way. This can include: keeping track of someone’s phone calls and texts, keeping track of where they are all the time, keeping track of what someone spends (eg checking shop receipts), telling someone they look slutty to make them dress differently or wear less make-up, telling someone they are useless so they won’t try for promotion or to go to university, accusing someone of flirting or cheating on them, telling someone they aren’t safe to drive in order to restrict their movements, telling someone their friends or family are bad for them in order to isolate them from friends and family, making someone choose between the abuser and their own friends or family. There are very many other ways of using abuse to control someone.