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What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse occurs across society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth, and geography, between intimate partners and family members. Domestic abuse is always unacceptable.

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What is
domestic abuse?

There are many different types of abuse. Here you will find a list of some of the most common that we come across here at Behind Closed Doors.

Most people can identify physical abuse but there are other more subtle forms, which are equally as devastating. This page gives examples of abuse and control.

physical abuse

Hitting, biting, restraining, locked in/out of room or home, spat or shouted at, stabbed, burnt, throttled.

Sexual abuse

Rape, forced to watch porn, openly cheats, withholds affection, sexually explicit films or photos without consent, sex on demand, passes STDs, any forced act, criticises sexual performance.

Emotional abuse

Degradation, exhaustion, isolation, enforce trivial demands e.g. recook a meal, displays of total power, threats, distortion, occasional treats to cause confusion, unhealthy bond.

Coercive control

This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. Monitoring time, isolating from friends and family, taking control of every aspect of day to day life, controlling finances, monitoring through online activity, or using spyware to monitor movements.

Economic and financial abuse

Run up debts, keeps money, prevented from working e.g. not allowed to go to work, no financial contribution made, all the bills in victim’s name, forced to give up work, forced to beg, false credit e.g. forgery of signatures, fraudulent claims

Verbal abuse

Name calling, ‘put downs’, silence, blames victim for everything, false accusations, insulting you or your family, humiliating you in private and/or in company, leaving nasty messages for you.

Cyber abuse

Checking phones, hacking into your own emails/social sites, putting app’s on systems which allow them to track you, access your messages, placing tracking devices on cars/bugs in homes.

warning signs
of domestic abuse

Signs of domestic abuse can often go unnoticed. Listed below are that may indicate that someone is affected by abuse.

These often leave the person feeling more dependent on the abuser, keeping them from realising their own self-worth and making it increasingly difficult to leave.


Bruising, cuts or injuries occurring frequently, or in areas that can be hidden by clothing, or perhaps is walking stiffly or appears sore. Sometimes gives explanations for injuries that don’t fit with the description or downplay their severity.


Displays physical symptoms related to stress, other anxiety disorders or depression, such as panic attacks, feelings of isolation and an inability to cope. May even talk about suicide attempts or self-harming.

Absent from work

Often off work, takes time off without notice or is frequently late. When they are at work they perform poorly, isolate themselves or are frequently checking their phone.

Stops socialising

May make excuses for not going out with friends, or suddenly pulls out of social meets at the last minute.

Lack of opportunity to communicate independently

Perhaps their partner talks over them, or for them, and they may be reluctant to speak. Their partner can appear controlling or make disparaging remarks to them.

Personality changes

You may notice personality changes when around their partner. They may be jumpy or show nervous mannerisms.

Low self-esteem

Has low self-esteem when talking about relationships or their life in general and may seem sad, cry or be depressed.


May take the blame for anything that happens, whether it’s at work, with the kids or with friends. May blame themselves for the abuse.

Lack of money

Perhaps they never seem to have any money on them or forgets their purse/wallet because their partner is withholding money to control them.

Their partner displays irrational behaviour

May say that their partner is jealous, irrational/possessive, or you can pick up that they behave this way. Their partner may accuse them of having affairs, check phone or constantly phone to check up on them.

Unwanted pregnancy or termination

Pregnancy often triggers the start of domestic abuse. She may be unhappy at being pregnant, not wish to continue with the pregnancy, or be forced into having a termination.

Substance abuse

May use alcohol or drugs to cope or even prescribed drugs such as tranquillisers or anti-depressants.

Lack of assertiveness

Seem distressed when it comes to making decisions, sticking up for themselves, giving their own opinion.

Damage to property

Damage may be observed in the home or even harm to pets.

Unwilling to give out personal details

May not give friends and colleagues their address or telephone number. May insist that they contact you, so that you don’t turn up on their doorstep.