Domestic abuse

Every person has the right to live a life free from violence. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, or you know of someone who is, then please get help now.

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, is any kind of violence or abuse between partners or family members. The government definition of abuse is as follows:

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:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate 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
  • 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 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. Whilst this is not a legislative change, the definition will send a clear message to victims about what constitutes domestic violence and abuse.

If you are in a relationship with someone, you should feel loved, safe, respected and free to be yourself. There are different forms of abuse, but if your relationship leaves you feeling scared, intimidated or controlled, it's possible you're in an abusive relationship.

Domestic violence may include threatening or controlling behaviour and may not necessarily be ‘violent’. No one should have to put up with any kind of violence or abuse, and everyone has the right to personal safety. If you are worried, ask for help.

If it has happened once, it is likely to happen again. Even if it has been happening for years it is never too late to seek help. If you are forced to alter your behaviour because you are frightened of your partner's reaction, you are being abused. Anyone can be abused, regardless of their social background, age, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity.

Although men can be abused too, the statistics show that in most cases it is women who are abused.

Abuse in a relationship can happen to anyone and it's never acceptable. It can destroy your self-confidence, have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing and leave you feeling isolated and lonely. Here are some signs that you may be in an abusive relationship, they may:

  • be jealous and possessive
  • cut you off from family and friends and try to isolate you
  • control you - for example, your money, who you should see, what you should wear
  • monitor your movements
  • blame you for the abuse
  • humiliate or insult you in front of others
  • verbally abuse you
  • constantly criticise you
  • use anger and intimidation to frighten you and make you comply with their demands
  • tell you that you're useless and couldn't cope without them

Adults often think that children and young people aren't affected by the violence if they don't see all the fighting. However this isn't true. Even if a child or young person doesn't see the shouting or the hitting, they've probably heard it or seen their parent bruised or upset after an argument.

In 90 per cent of cases of domestic violence, the children or young people are in the same or next room as where the violence is taking place (Hughes, 1992). There is also a higher risk that some children and young people will be abused as well.

At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence. Nearly three quarters of children on the 'at risk' register live in households where domestic violence occurs (Department of Health, 2002).

Children and young people can 'witness' domestic violence in many different ways. For example, they may get caught in the middle of an incident in an effort to make the violence stop. They may be in the room next door and hear the abuse or see their mother's physical injuries following an incident of violence. They may be forced to stay in one room or may not be allowed to play. They may be forced to witness sexual abuse or to take part in verbally abusing the victim.

All children and young people witnessing domestic violence are being emotionally abused. Understandably, children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse will feel many different emotions. Each child or young person will deal with their emotions differently.

If you are working with a child or young person who has been living with domestic abuse make sure that they talk to someone about what they've seen, what their worries are and what's happening either to them or at home.

It's normal that they may withdraw, feel upset, angry or confused. However, you can support them in expressing these feelings more positively, in ways that are not abusive or damaging to themselves or those around them.

If you think you or a friend are being abused, check the warning signs and speak to someone you trust. Remember that there are services you can talk to locally and nationally for more information. You are never to blame for abuse, it is a choice made by the abuser.

Below are the contact details of the services who can provide help, advice and support if you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic abuse.

Police

  • In an emergency, always call 999
  • For non-emergency reports, call 101

National Domestic Violence Helpline

  • The National Domestic Violence Helpline operates 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247, which is a freephone number. The helpline can provide details of refuge accommodation across the UK and services in your local area.

Solace Women's Aid

  • Solace Women's Aid Advice Service offers information, advice and support for domestic and sexual violence. Phone the advice line on 0808 802 5565 or visit Solace Women's Aid.

Enfield Muslim Women's Aid

  • Enfield Muslim Women's Aid provides services for the relief of women and their children who have suffered or who are at risk of suffering domestic violence or abuse. It focuses particularly but not exclusively on Muslim women in Enfield and the surrounding area. The charity provides accommodation, support and advice. Phone Enfield Muslim Women's Aid on 020 8920 3565.

Enfield Saheli

  • Enfield Saheli offers support and advice to women in Enfield and neighbouring London boroughs. The charity is run by women for women, with special emphasis on support for Asian women of all ethnicities. They provide qualified bilingual counselling in Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu and Punjabi. Phone Enfield Saheli on 020 8373 6218 or visit Enfield Saheli.

Victim Support

  • Victim Support can offer advice and support if you have been a victim of any crime or have been affected by a crime committed against someone you know. Their services are free and available to everyone, whether or not the crime has been reported and regardless of when it happened. Phone Victim Support Enfield on 0845 450 4443.

Children and Young People

Older People

Safeguarding Adults

Information for people who abuse

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Is your partner treating you with the respect you deserve?

In a healthy relationship both partners treat each other with respect. Answer the following questions honestly to work out if your partner treats you with the respect you deserve Yes/No
Is your partner willing to compromise?
Does your partner let you feel comfortable being yourself?
Is your partner able to admit to being wrong?
Is your partner not jealous or possessive?
Does your partner not try to control what you wear, where you go or what you do?
Does your partner not physically hurt you?
Does your partner not emotionally hurt you (by calling you names, threatening you, making you feel bad)?
Does your partner try to resolve arguments and conflict by talking honestly?
Does your partner enable you to feel safe being with them?
Does your partner respect your feelings, your opinions and your friends?
Does your partner accept your saying no to things you don't want to do (like sex)?
Does your partner accept your changing your mind?
Does your partner respect your wishes if you want to end the relationship?

When someone loves you, you feel safe, respected and free to be yourself. You shouldn't be made to feel scared, intimidated or controlled.

If you have answered 'no' to any of these questions, you could be in an abusive relationship and may want to speak to someone.

Stalking includes such behaviour as:

  • regularly sending unwanted flowers or gifts
  • making unwelcome or malicious communication
  • damaging property
  • physical or sexual assault

If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted, and causes you fear or anxiety, then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.

Stalking does not just involve a stranger lurking in the shadows or a delusional fan following a celebrity. While these cover some stalking scenarios, they are by no means the majority. About 40 per cent of people who contact the Helpline are being stalked by ex-partners and a further third have had some sort of prior acquaintance with their victim. For instance, the victim may have dated, married or been a friend with their stalker.

For more information about stalking and harassment, visit Paladin Service’s Advice for victims or the National Stalking Helpline.

Clare’s Law, also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, gives members of the public a ‘right to ask’ police where they are concerned that:

  • their partner may pose a risk to them
  • the partner of a member of their family or a friend may pose a risk to that individual

If the police and partner agencies find that the partner has a record of abusive offences, or there is other information to indicate that there may be a risk from the partner, they will consider sharing this information.

The Metropolitan Police have more information, including guidance on what to do if you are concerned.

Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) are a way to provide protection to victims of domestic abuse for up to 28 days. This gives the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need.

For more detailed information, see the GOV.UK’s page on domestic violence and abuse.