Domestic abuse can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, wealth, disability or lifestyle.
It is estimated that one in four women and one in six men will suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime. On average, two women a week are murdered by their partner or ex-partner. Domestic abuse is the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is an incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. Domestic abuse happens between people aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Just because it isn't physical, doesn't mean its not abuse.
Abuse is rarely a one-off event and sometimes abusers apologise for their behaviour promising it won’t happen again. Very often it continues and gets progressively worse over time.
Coercive behaviour is an act, or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation, intimidation and other abuse which is used to cause harm, punish or frighten the individual.
Domestic abuse can include:
- When someone uses physical force against another person which causes, or could cause physical harm.
- Examples include slapping, hitting, pushing, pinching, biting, choking, burning, using a weapon and throwing things.
- Any situation where an individual is forced or threatened to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity.
- Examples include inappropriate and unwanted touching, unwanted sexual demands, hurting them during sex, pressurising them to have sex or unsafe sex.
Emotional and psychological
- This can be verbal or nonverbal, affect the confidence and independence of the individual. Intending to make them more compliant and limiting their ability to leave.
- Examples include belittling, degrading, sulking, blaming them for abuse and arguments. Isolating them from friends and family, stopping them going out, accusing them of flirting or having affairs. Telling them what to wear and making them think they’re crazy by denying the abuse.
- Limiting an individual’s ability to access money or an income to deprive them of independence or from being able to access help.
- Examples include controlling the finances, withholding money for basic necessities, preventing them working, deliberately running up debts or forcing them to work against their will.
Stalking and harrassment
- This is a very common form of domestic abuse which includes obsessive and repetitive behaviour that causes the individual distress.
- Examples include frequently contacting them, driving past their home unnecessarily, gathering information on them through contacting people who know them or using public records, sending unwanted or malicious gifts.
'Honour' based violence
- This is perpetrated in the name of so called ‘honour’ and involves an individual being punished for bringing shame on the family, as a result of not abiding by the honour code.
- Examples of not abiding by an honour code can include rejecting a forced marriage, sexuality, pregnancy outside of marriage, interfaith relationships, seeking divorce, wearing make-up or urban clothes and being in a relationship.
Female genital mutilation (FGM)
- This can also be referred to as female circumcision which involves females undergoing procedures wrongly believed to ensure their chastity and marital fidelity.
This is a marriage performed under duress and without full and informed consent of both parties. A forced marriage is different from an arranged marriage as with an arranged marriage both parties freely consent.
Seeing the change in an individual’s behaviour
Individuals who are experiencing domestic abuse may start to behave differently, this can be a gradual or sudden change and could include:
- A loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
- Starting to become withdrawn
- Changing socialising patterns such as no longer seeing friends or family
- Changes in their physical appearance, clothes and make up
- Always checking in with their partner or being concerned about what they will think
- Unexplained injuries
Reporting on behalf of someone else
Some of the reports we receive can alert us to potential cases of domestic abuse. These can include anti-social behaviour reports such as noise – arguments, shouting, banging and crying. Individuals in a domestically abusive relationship may not recognise they are being abused or be afraid or unable to end the relationship.
What we can do
Concerns of domestic abuse can be reported to us via phone, email or by completing our online form through our website. This can be completed by the individual themselves, family, friends or neighbours. Our employees are understanding, sensitive and non-judgemental, and will support the individual experiencing domestic abuse. If you would prefer to speak to an employee who is the same sex as you, please let us know.
Every case is different and we have people that are trained to give advice on housing including tenancies and relocation. Plus support agencies and charities that may be able to offer further support or advice on legal orders which are designed to protect individuals and where they can be accessed.
With permission, we can refer an individual to other agencies who will be able to offer independent specialist support and advice.
Your details and information are kept private and will not be shared unless you give us permission to or we have serious concerns for the individual or their children’s safety. If we have safeguarding concerns, we have a legal responsibility to pass on the information.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse and in immediate danger, please call 999.
Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
The Essex Domestic Abuse Helpline 0330 333 7 444
You can find your local domestic abuse specialist service by visiting the below website