Domestic Abuse


What is domestic abuse?

 "In Women's Aid's view domestic abuse is physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and so-called 'honour crimes'. Domestic abuse  may include a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are in themselves inherently 'violent'."

This definition comes from the Women's Aid website.  Please click here to access the Women's Aid website.


Domestic abuse can be physical - such as slapping, punching, kicking, pushing you around, pulling your hair. It can be sexual abuse - forcing you to have sex, abuse of your children. It can be emotional abuse - calling you names, putting you down, humiliating you in public, stopping you from going out or seeing your friends and family, turning your children against you or controlling your life.

Domestic abuse essentially involves the misuse of power and exercise of control by one person over another with whom there is or has been a close relationship.


The majority of victims of domestic abuse are women and children.  Women are considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of violence and sexual abuse.  Women may experience domestic abuse regardless of ethnicity, religion, class, age, sexuality, disability or lifestyle. 

Domestic abuse can also occur in a range of relationships including: heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships and in extended families. 

Facts about domestic abuse

One incident of domestic abuse is reported to the police every minute.

  • In 2008 Humberside police responded to more than 550 incidents of domestic abuse each month.
  • Domestic abuse accounts for between 16% and one quarter of all recorded violent crime.
  • In any one year, there are 13 million separate incidents of physical abuse or threats of abuse against women from partners or former partners.
  • At least 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.
  • At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic abuse.
  • On a typical day, 3615 women and 3,580 children are resident in refuge accommodation in England.


What are the signs of domestic abuse?

Destructive criticism and verbal abuse:  shouting/mocking/accusing/name calling/verbally threatening.

Pressure tactics:  sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report the woman to welfare agencies unless she complies with his demands regarding bringing up the children, lying to her friends and family about her, telling her that she has no choice in any decisions.

Disrespect:  persistently putting the woman down in front of other people, not listening or responding when she talks, interrupting her telephone calls, taking money from her purse without asking, refusing to help with childcare or housework.

Breaking trust:  lying to the woman, withholding information from her, being jealous, having other relationships, breaking promises and shared agreements.

Isolation:  monitoring or blocking her telephone calls, telling her where she can and cannot go, preventing her from seeing friends and relatives.

Harassment:  following the woman, checking up on her, opening her mail, repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned her, embarrassing her in public.

Threats:  making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting her down, destroying the woman's possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm her and the children.

Sexual abuse:  using force, threats or intimidation to make the woman perform sexual acts, having sex with her when she doesn't want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on her sexual orientation.

Physical abuse:  punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.

Denial:  saying the abuse doesn't happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, being publicly gentle and patient, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.


How does domestic abuse affect me?

Domestic abuse can affect women in many ways, they can be seriously hurt or even killed, abusive behaviour can be wide ranging and can have a massive effect on a woman’s emotional state, their physical and mental health and leave women feeling:

  • Isolated
  • Powerless
  • Anxious
  • Fearful
  • Emotionally  drained
  • Out of control
  • Confused
  • Edgy
  • Stressful
  • Physically drained


How does domestic abuse affect children?

Domestic abuse affects children too, and the secret of domestic abuse is a very heavy burden for any child to bear.

Even when it appears that children aren’t being directly abused themselves, research shows that they are likely to be aware of what is happening.

Children living with abuse will actively interpret the situation, try to predict what will happen and assess their roles in causing abuse. They won’t worry about consequences, engage in problem solving, and take measures to protect themselves, siblings and their mother, both physically and emotionally.

A third of children try and intervene during attacks on their mother, and children sometimes feel guilty if they don’t come to their parents aid.  Guilt is often accompanied by self blame and feelings that they may have caused a parent to be abusive.


You can contact Hull Women’s Aid on 01482 446099