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What is Domestic Abuse? 

Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members.

Domestic violence can happen against women and against men, and anybody can be an abuser. If you're worried someone might see you have been on this page, find out how to cover your tracks online.

Signs of domestic violence and abuse

These are different kinds of abuse, but it's always about having power and control over you. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship. 

Emotional Abuse

Does your partner ever: 

  • belittle you, or put you down?
  • blame you for the abuse or arguments?
  • deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
  • isolate you from your family and friends?
  • stop you going to college or work?
  • make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
  • tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
  • control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?

Physical Abuse

Does your partner ever:

  • threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • destroy things that belong to you?
  • stand over you, invade your personal space?
  • threaten to kill themselves or the children?
  • read your emails, texts or letters?
  • harass or follow you?

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, whether they're male or female.

Does your partner ever:

  • touch you in a way you don't want to be touched?
  • make unwanted sexual demands?
  • hurt you during sex?
  • pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
  • pressure you to have sex?

If you decide to leave

The first step in escaping an abusive situation is realising that you're not alone and it's not your fault. If you're considering leaving, be careful who you tell. It's important your partner doesn't know where you're going.

Before you go, try to get advice from an organisation such as:

Women's Aid has useful information about making a safety plan that applies to both women and men, including advice if you decide to leave.

Other sources for support and help

  • Refuge - helpline: 0808 2000 247 (freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run with Women’s Aid), helpline@refuge.org.uk
  • Men's Advice Line - helpline: 0808 801 0327 (Mon to Fri: 9am to 5pm), info@mensadviceline.org.uk, Confidential helpline for all men (in heterosexual or same-sex relationships) experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner.
  • Respect - helpline: 0808 802 4040 (Mon to Fri: 9am to 5pm), info@respectphoneline.org.uk, Runs support services and programmes for people who inflict violence in relationships, including young men and women. Also runs the men's advice line, as above.
  • Respect not fear - Website for young people about domestic violence.
  • The Hide Out - Women's Aid website to help young people understand domestic abuse, and how to take positive action if it's happening to them.
  • The Forced Marriage Unit - helpline: 020 7008 0151, fmu@fco.gov.uk, Joint initiative between the Foreign Office and Home Office. It assists actual and potential victims of forced marriage, as well as professionals working in the social, educational and health sectors.
  • Ashiana Sheffield - helpline: 0114 255 5740, info@ashianasheffield.org.uk, aims to help prevent murder and serious harm to black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee women in England, Wales and Scotland as a result of domestic abuse and forced marriage and 'honor'-based violence. Also supports children and young people.
  • GALOP - LGBT+ anti-violence charity. If you’ve experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse, we’re here for you. We also support lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people who have had problems with the police or have questions about the criminal justice system.


Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Who Can Help Page for lots of services who are local and national!


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