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Domestic Abuse

We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.

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What is domestic abuse?

We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse 
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Financial or economic abuse
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Online or digital abuse

Recognising domestic abuse

Although every situation is unique, there are common factors that link the experience of an abusive relationship. Acknowledging these factors is an important step in preventing and stopping the abuse. This list can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship. They include :

  • Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting; mocking; accusing; name calling; verbally threatening.
  • Pressure tactics: sulking; threatening to withhold money, disconnecting the phone and internet, taking away or destroying your mobile, tablet or laptop, taking the car away, taking the children away; threatening to report you to the police, social services or the mental health team unless you comply with his demands; threatening or attempting self-harm and suicide; withholding or pressuring you to use drugs or other substances; lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
  • Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
  • Breaking trust: lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
  • Isolation: monitoring or blocking your phone calls, e-mails and social media accounts, telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives; shutting you in the house.
  • Harassment: following you; checking up on you; not allowing you any privacy (for example, opening your mail, going through your laptop, tablet or mobile), repeatedly checking to see who has phoned you; embarrassing you in public; accompanying you everywhere you go.
  • Threats: making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or a gun; threatening to kill or harm you and the children; threatening to kill or harm family pets; threats of suicide.
  • Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts; having sex with you when you don’t want it; forcing you to look at pornographic material; constant pressure and harassment into having sex when you don’t want to, forcing you to have sex with other people; any degrading treatment related to your sexuality or to whether you are lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.
  • Physical violence: punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling, pinning you down, holding you by the neck, restraining you.
  • Denial: saying the abuse doesn’t happen; saying you caused the abuse; saying you wind him up; saying he can’t control his anger; being publicly gentle and patient; crying and begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.

How can I help someone being abused?

Be aware of the signs

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. It is often brushed under the carpet by society and minimised by those experiencing it.

It is important to remember that victims may respond very differently to domestic abuse. Some may appear depressed and withdrawn, others may appear agitated and angry. Similarly, perpetrators of domestic abuse will not necessarily fit stereotypes – some will be overtly aggressive and domineering, others may appear concerned, attentive and charming.

It is important to have an awareness of the possibility of domestic abuse and of the signs which might suggest it is taking place. These signs may include both physical signs of violence and/or non-visible indicators:

  • visible bruises or injuries, maybe as a result from choking, punching or from an object. Injuries may be inconsistent with the explanation given
  • attempts to cover up bruises or injuries with heavy makeup or clothing. Clothing may not be consistent with the weather (for example, wearing a scarf during the summer)
  • unplanned or unwanted pregnancies
  • misuse of drugs and/or alcohol (this may be used by the victim as a coping mechanism)
  • eating disorders
  • self-harm, suicide attempts
  • depression
  • frequent/over use of medication
  • missed appointments
  • partner accompanies victim, answers all questions, may appear to be dominant
  • victim appears frightened, ashamed, embarrassed, reluctant to speak or disagree with their partner, avoids eye contact
  • victim has few or no friends, may make excuses not to meet friends/colleagues socially

How you can help

If you think a friend, family member or work colleague is experiencing domestic abuse, there are things you can do to help them: raising the issue, listening, acknowledging the situation, giving support and offering practical help.

Visit Berkshire Women’s Aid
Providing advice, support and refuge services to male and female victims of domestic abuse throughout Bracknell, Reading and Wokingham
Phone: 0118 950 4003

Visit the Citizens Advice
Providing free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities
Phone: 03444 111306

Visit the National Domestic Violence Helpline
A national helpline service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
Phone: 0808 2000 247

For more information bracknell-forest.gov.uk/crime-and-emergencies/domestic-abuse