Domestic abuse

Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence is defined as

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviours, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to

  • Psychological

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Controlling behaviour is a range if acts designed to make person subordinate and or dependant by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them from of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.


Coercive behaviour is an act or pattern of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used harm, punish or frighten their victim.


The British Crime Survey (BCS) self-completion module on intimate violence found that 7 percent of women and 5 percent of men were estimated to have experienced domestic abuse in the last year this is equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million females and 800,000 male victims. In addition to this women's aid estimate that two women are killed each week by their partner or ex partner (2011)


The BCS (2011) also looked into the nature of the abuse and found that around a quarter ( 27 percent ) of partner abuse victims suffers a physical injury as a result of the abuse. Among those who had experienced any physical injury or other effects (such as emotional problems) around a quarter (28 percent) received some sort of medical attention. when domestic violence is happening not all people take themselves out of the situation, and when asked for the reasons why they did not leave shared accommodation. 38 percent mentioned the presence of children as the reason. 34 percent stated love or feelings for their partner and 21 percent stated that they had nowhere to go.


NICE guidance has identified some of the risk factors associated with domestic violence, these include

  • Is female
  • Is aged 16-24 (women) or 16-19 (men) (Smith et al. 2011)
  • Has a long-term illness or disability ( this has been shown to almost double the risk) (Smith et al. 2011)
  • Has a mental health problem ( Trevillion et al. 2012)
  • Is a woman who is separated ( Smith et al. 2011)
  • Is pregnant or has recently given birth ( Bowen et al 2005 and Harry Kissoon et al 2002)
  • Are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (Roch et al 2010) (Donovan et al. 2006)
  • Have a alcohol or drug misuse problem (Smith at al. 2012)

Facts and figures

For more details read our domestic abuse facts and figures (PDF document.)