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What is Domestic Abuse?

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional) between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

The abuser can use a pattern of behaviour(s) that is both abusive and controlling. This behaviour is designed to give control and power over their victims and isolate them from other people and support. They can also deprive people of their independence and try to control and regulate their everyday behaviour.

The effects of domestic abuse can be both frightening and devastating. If you, or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse Durham Police are here to help you. Talk to them or someone you trust and together we can stop domestic abuse.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 creates the first statutory definition of domestic abuse which includes not only physical violence but that of emotional, coercive and controlling behaviour and economic abuse. This can be limited to a single event or a series of actions. Children will now be given statutory recognition as “victims” rather than “witnesses” if they see, hear or experience abuse in the home.

The Act has extended the scope of coercive and controlling behaviour to incorporate abuse post-separation. The offence, will widen the parameters of “personally connected” to include ex-partners and family members who do not live together.

Signs of domestic violence and abuse

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship. See the Further Support Section for how you might seek help. 

Emotional abuse

Does your partner ever:

  • belittle you, or put you down?
  • blame you for the abuse or arguments?
  • deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
  • isolate you from your family and friends?
  • stop you going to college or work?
  • make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
  • tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
  • control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?

Threats and intimidation

Does your partner ever:

    • threaten to hurt or kill you?
    • destroy things that belong to you?
    • stand over you, invade your personal space?
    • threaten to kill themselves or the children?
    • read your emails, texts or letters?
    • harass or follow you?

Physical abuse

The person abusing you may hurt you in a number of ways.

Does your partner ever:

  • slap, hit or punch you?
  • push or shove you?
  • bite or kick you?
  • burn you?
  • choke you or hold you down?
  • throw things?

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, whether they’re male or female.

Does your partner ever:

  • touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
  • make unwanted sexual demands?
  • hurt you during sex?
  • pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
  • pressure you to have sex?
  • If your partner has sex with you when you don’t want to, this is rape.

Have you ever felt afraid of your partner?

Have you ever changed your behaviour because you’re afraid of what your partner might do?

If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, there are lots of people who can help you.

If an incident occurs: 

  • Try to leave before the incident gets worse and go to a safe place if possible, if not try to remain calm and near to an escape route in case you can leave quickly.
  • When it is safe, get out of danger as soon as possible and go to a safe place. This may be with friends, family or someone you can trust.
  • Always call 999 in an emergency or use a pre-agreed code word to alert family or friends to call the police for you.
  • Keep a record of what has happened to you, including damage to your home and belongings to give to the police.
  • Report domestic abuse to the police straight away; nationally it takes on average 35 incidents before someone will ask the police for help, so please do something about this sooner as chances are it will happen again.
  • If you, or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse we are here to help you. Talk to us or someone you trust and together we can stop domestic abuse.

Everyone is entitled to live safely without fear of violence or abuse.

Further information:

  • Men who are victims of domestic abuse can use the following email address ([email protected]) which can refer men to local places that can help, such as health services and voluntary organisations.
  • For forced marriage and “honour” crimes, contact Karma Nirvana (0800 5999 247) or The Forced Marriage Unit (020 7008 0151).
  • Anyone who needs confidential help with their own abusive behaviour can contact Respect on their free helpline on 0808 802 4040.