West Mercia Women’s Aid
What is domestic abuse?
Examples of behaviours that are found in abusive relationships.
Coercive Control and controlling behaviours
Am I free to make my own decisions or share my opinions without being scared of any repercussions?
Coercive behaviour is a pattern of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten you. This behaviour is designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from their support networks (family, friends or professionals) and making them dependent on the abuser. Depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Psychological and/or Emotional Abuse
Are you being Gaslighted? Is someone playing mind games with you to make you doubt your own judgement, feelings, thoughts or sanity? This could be questioning your memory or minimising an abusive incident, or making you believe that your friends or family don’t like you or have said negative things about you.
Are you being verbally abused? Is someone calling you nasty names, laughing at you, or using your past or your insecurities against you to make you feel upset or hurt or lonely?
Is someone causing arguments and blaming you? This could be accusations of cheating or constantly criticising your capabilities, intelligence or parenting to undermine you.
Is someone emotionally blackmailing you to manipulate or control you? This could be threats of suicide, or threats to harm your family or friends or sulking or ignoring you if you do not do what they want you to. This type of abuse is used to control you and prevent you from doing something they do not agree with such as going out with friends/contacting family/going to work or threats of revenge porn or posting/sharing intimate phots or information with others or online.
Is someone using anger or intimidation to threaten or scare you? This could be a knowing look to warn you that they do not approve of what you are doing and/or to let you know there will be consequences for your actions. These behaviours include (but are not limited to): Driving dangerously, hitting an object or a wall, tapping fingers aggressively, throwing things, and making threats to hurt you or your family, slamming doors, or using their body to block your exit to make you feel uneasy or scared.
Have you been physically hurt? This includes: Hitting, shaking, biting, kicking, punching, burning, slapping, pinching, squeezing, pulling of hair, forceful restraint, being hit by weapons ( a weapon could be a remote control or a phone etc if it is used to hurt you), cutting you or your hair or any other form of physical abuse.
Have you ever been choked, suffocated or held underwater? These behaviours include when someone put their hands around your throat forcefully, this may leave a red mark or bruising or leave you struggling to breathe or unconscious.
Do you believe you have been poisoned or have had your medicine withheld from you? Poisoning could be force feeding you a prescribed medication or illegal drugs, it may also be done without your knowledge. Withholding medicine includes stopping you from taking your contraceptive prescription.
Have you been forced into giving consent for a sexual act? Consent must be sought and given for every sexual encounter. If you are scared about the consequences of saying no, you do not have freewill to make your own decision or agree to engage in a sexual activity.
Do you feel threatened, coerced or pressured into having sex or engaging in sexual activities? Using threats, sulking or ignoring you if you do not have sex or engage in sexual activities that you may feel uncomfortable with, is a way to coerce or pressure you and is abusive. This could include participating in sexual acts or having sex with other people other than your partner or having rough or violent sex such as through the use of strangulation or physical assaults.
Have you been forced into unwanted kissing or touching? This includes touching, sexual harassment or groping and rape. Sexual assault is never your fault and there is a number of ways you can access support.
Are you being forced into watching pornography or being threatened with revenge porn? If you are being forced to do something against your will it is abusive. Revenge porn is when someone shows a private sexual photo or film of you to another person, without your consent. They may use it as a form of control by threatening to share the image or video via social media, email or any other form of communication. This can include images that have been obtained without your permission through upskirting.
Do you feel that there is no equality when it comes to finances or is money being used as a form of control by a partner that earns more than you? Do you pay all the household bills whilst your partner or family member spend their funds how they please? Or is money withheld from you if you disagree with your partners view?
Are you building up debt or have you taken out loans for other people that are not being paid? Are you scared to open letters from banks or debtors as you feel the situation is out of control? Are you unsure where you stand legally? Is someone stealing money from you?
Have you been stopped or been discouraged from working or furthering your education? This type of abuse can limit your resources, isolate you and make you dependent on your abuser. Is your partner or family member taking your pay or putting your benefits into their bank account?
Do you feel like you have no control over your property? Is your mortgage/rental agreement or mobile phone or car in someone else’s name? Do you feel trapped financially and feel like you have no way of getting out of the situation?
Stalking & Harassment
Stalking and harassment is a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated.
Do you feel like your movements are being monitored or tracked? Does someone know your routine or whereabouts without your knowledge? This could include turning up at your work or a social event uninvited. Is someone asking your friends or family personal questions about you? Or do you feel like someone is spying on you through a tracking device or app?
Have you received unwanted gifts that have been sent to your home or work? These behaviours may not appear abusive when you think of them as isolated events but stalking is not a single incident, it is a pattern of repeated behaviours that cause fear or distress to the victim.
Do you have repeated unwanted calls, emails or messages or phone or via social media? Are you scared to check your phone or email? Are you being abused through malicious communication?
Have you received threats of violence, suicide or death threats? Do you feel scared or distressed by someone else’s behaviour towards you?
Forced Marriage/Female Genital Mutilation/So Called Honour Based Violence
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not consent to the marriage as they are coerced, or abuse is used, to force them to do so. It is a criminal offence in England, Wales and Scotland and recognised as a form of domestic or child abuse.
For more information and safety advice regarding forced marriage please visit www.gov.uk/guidance/forced-marriage
Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is usually carried out on young girls. It is a procedure where the female genitals are cut, injured or changed, there is no medical reason for this to be done and it can have serious consequences on their health. It is illegal in the UK and is classed as child abuse.
For further information and guidance about what to do if you think someone is at risk of FGM please visit www.gov.uk/female-genital-mutilation
So Called ‘Honour Based Violence
‘Honour based violence’ (HBV) is a crime or incident which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community. However there is nothing religious, honourable or cultural about this type of domestic abuse. There are often multiple perpetrators and offences and this type of abuse is often perpetrated by immediate family and or community members.
If you are in fear of ‘HBV’ or believe another may be at risk of harm, do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation. Honour-based violence takes lives, please seek help and in an emergency always call 999.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse can be defined as:
“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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.”
Domestic abuse is not just about using physical force or seeing bruises that are visible; it is about exerting power and control over another person through the use of fear, manipulation, isolation and intimidation.
You may not experience all of these behaviours or you may have your own not covered here. If you feel scared or anxious, like you are losing part of yourself or fearful to tell anyone about what is happening to you our experienced team are here for you, to listen and talk through your personal situation and to discuss support options.
Looking for help?
24HR DOMESTIC ABUSE HELPLINE
Herefordshire & Shropshire:
Call 0800 783 1359
Telford & Wrekin:
Call 0800 840 3747
Call 0800 980 3331
We also have Livechat available from 9am until 5pm, Monday to Friday for those who want to contact our helpline silently or who prefer to text rather than talk.
If you are in immediate danger please call 999
Help for others
If you are worrying that someone you know or care about may be experiencing abuse, we can help.