Midlands Women's Aid

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What is domestic violence?

Domestic Violence is physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.

It can happen to any woman regardless of her age, race, ethnic or religious group, class, sexuality, lifestyle or disability.

Any type of Domestic Violence may not happen regularly, but it is rarely a one-off event and can escalate in frequency and severity over time.

On average, women are assaulted approximately 35 times by partners or ex-partners before reporting the violence to the police. (Bewley S, Friend J & Mezey G (eds) (1997) Violence Against Women, London, RCOG)

Domestic Violence is all about one person's desire to maintain control and power over another person. Living in a violent relationship destroys confidence and self-respect.


Aspects of domestic violence

(Based on Women's Aid Federation of England leaflet: `Domestic Violence - Breaking Free')

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 you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children; lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no say in making decisions.

persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding to you when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from you without asking; refusing to help around the house.

Breaking trust:
lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.

monitoring or blocking your telephone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.

following you; checking up on you; opening your mail; checking the telephone after you have used it; embarrassing you in public.

making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding weapons.

Sexual violence:
using force, threats or intimidation to make you form sexual acts; forcing you to have sex when you don't want to; any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.

Physical violence:
punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair; pushing and shoving; burning; strangling; raping.

saying the abuse doesn't happen; saying that you caused the abusive behaviour; being gentle and patient in public; crying and begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.