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We have attempted to answer some of the questions we frequently get asked so that our readers can become more informed about the types of Domestic Abuse. To find the answers click on the '+' button to expand each section.
+ What is Domestic Violence?
The Home Office definition of domestic violence is:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
Controlling behaviour can involve humiliation or intimidation and can make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Examples include cutting someone off from friends and family, stopping them from having independent finances, and controlling where they go.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence (HBV), female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
Coercive or controlling behaviour within an intimate or family relationship was established as a criminal offence in the Serious Crime Act 2015, and came into force on 29 December 2015. The offence was created because this form of domestic abuse was not previously covered by legislation. Read about someone's experiences of coercive and controlling behaviour in our blog 'Waking up to find you are a victim of coercive control'.
+ Why does Domestic Abuse Happen?
All forms of domestic violence and abuse - psychological, financial, emotional and physical - come from the person's need to control their environment or someone else's behaviour. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors involved. As adults in a relationship with another, it is our responsibility to address any behaviours that may be abusive regardless of where or why they have started and to acknowledge when it is not in our power to change someone else's behaviour towards us.
+ What are the Signs of Coercive and Controlling Behaviour?
Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting/mocking/accusing/name calling/verbally threatening
Pressure tactics: sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children, lying to your friends and family about you, telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
Control: telling you what to wear, dictating style of clothes, colour, how revealing they are; and similarly your hairstyle and colour. Who you see and when you see them or preventing you seeing friends and family at all.
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, using jealousy to control access to other relationships, having other relationships, breaking promises and shared agreements.
Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls, telling you where you can and cannot go, preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.
Harassment: following you, checking up on you, opening your mail, repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you, embarrassing you in public.
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.
Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don't want to have sex, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.
Physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.
Denial: saying the abuse doesn't happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, being publicly gentle and patient, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.
'Gaslighting' describes how an abuser lies and manipulates information, making the victim question his or her sanity. Read more about this in our blog article on this form of partner abuse.
Visit our 'How to spot the signs someone is enduring Domestic Violence' blog for more examples of abusive behaviour.
+ Clare's Law - the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme
The Disclosure Scheme gives you the right to ask the police for information about whether your partner has a history of violence and domestic abuse that might pose a risk to you. Members of the public can also enquire about partners of close friends and family if they are concerned about someone’s welfare. For more information read our blog on Clare's Law and also see Herts Police webpage including links to the enquiry forms.
+ How Common is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is very common. Research shows that it can affect one in four women and one in six men in their lifetimes, regardless of age, social class, race, disability or lifestyle.
The Home Office report into the economic and social cost of domestic abuse, found that domestic abuse cost England and Wales £66 billion in 2016 to 2017. To summarise, the research highlights:
• £47 billion = cost of the physical and emotional harm
• £2.3 billion = cost to health services
• £724million = cost of victim services
+ Is Domestic Abuse a Crime?
Domestic abuse may comprise a number of different behaviours and consequences, so there is no single criminal offence of “domestic abuse”. However, many forms of domestic abuse are crimes – for example: harassment, assault, criminal damage, attempted murder, rape and false imprisonment. Being assaulted, sexually abused, threatened or harassed by a partner or family member is just as much a crime as violence from a stranger, and often more dangerous.
Successful prosecutions for domestic violence cases rose from 46% (of all cases brought before the courts) in a December 2003 'snapshot' to 65% during the whole of 2006-07.
Not all forms of domestic abuse are illegal, however; for example, some forms of emotional abuse are not defied as crimes. Nevertheless, these types of abuse can also have a serious and lasting impact on a woman’s or child’s sense well-being and autonomy.
However, if your experience does not fit within the above you can still access support such as emotional support, learning how to keep yourself safe, learning how to change beliefs and behaviour or family support. This support is available for anyone affected by domestic abuse regardless of age, race, gender, religion, disability or sexuality.
+ Can I get support if I am worried about my behaviour towards others?
There may have been influences on your upbringing which may impact on the way you behave now within relationships. Using abusive behaviour is often a way of coping with how you feel. However, it is your responsibility to learn to communicate in ways that do not impact the health and wellbeing or your family and partners.
Consider whether you use any of the following behaviours in your relationships or with your family members.
Destructive Criticism or Verbal Abuse: - Shouting, mocking, accusing, name calling or verbally threatening.
Pressure tactics - Sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the care away, commit suicide, take the children away, reporting to welfare services, lying.
Disrespect - Persistently putting individuals down in front of others, not listening or responding when others are trying to communicate with you, interrupting telephone calls, taking money without permission and refusing to help with childcare or housework.
Breaking Trust - Deliberately lying, withholding information, using jealousy to control your partner's or family member's access to other relationships, breaking promises or shared agreements.
Isolation - Monitoring or blocking telephone calls, controlling where someone can and cannot go or preventing someone from seeing friends or relatives.
Harassment - Following someone, checking up on someone, opening others' mail, repeatedly checking to see who has phoned someone and embarrassing someone in public.
Threats - Making angry gestures, using your physical size to intimidate others, shouting someone down, destroying someone's possessions, punching walls, wielding a weapon and threatening to kill or harm partners, family members, children or pets.
Sexual violence - Using force, threats or intimidation to manipulate someone to perform sexual acts, having sex when someone doesn't want to, degrading someone based on their sexual orientation.
Denial - Saying the abuse didn't happen or saying that the other person caused the abuse to happen.
If you are concerned about your behaviour towards others, you can get help to learn healthier ways to communicate and respond to partners and family members.
The support available usually takes the form of a weekly programme, anything from 12 weeks to 2 years, or 1 to 1 counselling with a specialist who specialises in this area. To make lasting and well-embedded changes this will take time and commitment.
The programmes available range from those that specifically look at behaviour in isolation to those that will work if appropriate with the couple and even the whole family.
The Helpline can explore with you the best programme for your situation in which you can do that. Contact us to get answers to any questions you may have about domestic abuse in your relationship or that of a friend or family member.
It should be noted that it is possible for both individuals in a relationship to behave in an unhealthy way.
+ Legal options
Read our Legal Blog for information about legal options you may wish to pursue.
TYPES OF DOMESTIC ABUSE
+ Affecting Women
We know that one in four women suffer domestic abuse or domestic violence in their lives - and we know that for some women it spans more than one relationship. Often women have learned beliefs about relationships through their families, peers, society and gender roles that mean they 'put up with' or expect to be treated in certain ways. (This can often be subconscious)
In England and Wales, domestic abuse accounts for 25% of all violent crime.
Many women find reasons why they should stay... fear, children, shame, financial stability, emotional investment (love)... to name just a small few. Women often feel powerless and feel they have no choices to make, when actually there are many options available.
Our Helpline volunteers are trained to listen and explore your options with you so you can make a choice that’s right for you. If you are suffering from abuse or violence, please call 08 088 088 088 or email Support@hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org to find out more about the help that is available to you.
+ Affecting Men
We know that one in six men suffer domestic abuse or domestic violence in their lives and we know that for some men it spans more than one relationship. There is often a context or a history within the family, but not always.
Men often feel shame as a victim as it may be perceived that they are not fulfilling the social gender role of a real man. This can often isolate them from their peer group and they can keep quiet about what is going on.
At times, men are portrayed as the abusive partner - BY the abusive partner and fear that nobody will believe they are, in fact, the victim.
Men fear leaving for many reasons, including: losing contact with children, being seen as the abuser and being ridiculed by work colleagues, family and friends.
Our article on Domestic Violence against men explores this issue in more detail if you would like more information.
There is support available and the Helpline is there to listen and explore your options with you so you can make a choice that’s right for you.
+ Affecting Children and Young People
Are you worried about your home life?
If you are in immediate danger – call 999 now.
If you would like to talk to someone, call Childline on 0800 1111 or you can visit their website
You can also visit these websites:
• The Hide Out - a website for children and young people affected or concerned by domestic abuse, click here http://thehideout.org.uk/.
• Freedom Charity - information about family issues such as forced marriage and honour based violence, click here https://www.freedomcharity.org.uk/.
If you are a child or young person visiting this website, you might be unsure about things happening in your home. Your parents or members of your family might not be getting on as well as they used to.
You may be feeling very alone, frightened, depressed, confused, isolated. Your school work may be suffering, you may be experiencing difficulties in making friends and relationships, you may be harming yourself in some way as a means of coping with the circumstances at home.
You may feel in some way responsible for the situation or for any violence or abuse that is taking place. Don’t! Remember - it is NOT your fault!
You may feel guilty you cannot protect the adult family member who is being subjected to the violence or abuse. Don’t! It is NOT your responsibility to protect your family member.
You may feel disloyal by speaking about what is happening within your home to other people. Don’t! An adult who is continually angry or violent needs help just as much as an adult who is being subjected to this behaviour.
Don’t try to cope on your own. Try to get as much help and support for yourself as you can.
Remember – if someone is abusing you, it is never right, and there are people you can turn to.
Call 08 088 088 088 or email Support@hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org to talk through your options.
Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (HSCP) has been set up so that all agencies and organisations who work with children and young people work together to keep children safe. If you're an adult concerned about a child or young person, call HSCP any time on 0300 123 4043.
+ Child/Adolescent on Parent Abuse
There is no legal definition of this type of abuse. However, it is increasingly recognised as a form of domestic abuse and domestic violence. It can include physical violence, damage to property, emotional abuse, economic and financial abuse and can encompass (but is not limited to) humiliation, threats, belittling, stealing, heightened sexualised behaviour. Patterns of coercive control are often seen but some families experience more explosive episodes of violence and less controlling behaviour.
In 2008 Family Lives revealed that 7% of their calls were about physical aggression from children towards parents and usually targeted at mothers.
Siblings may also be at risk.
Parents can face a difficult scenario whereby their child may be criminalised as a result of the parent reporting the child's behaviour. They may also fear not being believed or criticisms about poor parenting.
There is no single explanation. Some families have a history of abuse whilst others experience other behavioural problems such as substance misuse, self harm or mental health problems. Sometimes there is no apparent reason and it can be difficult to understand.
There is a sense of stigma, isolation and shame felt by families experiencing this kind of violence which is exacerbated by the lack of official recognition, policy and public awareness. The most effective support is where there is a tailored response to the whole family system. This can be in the form of family therapy or team around the family.
Talk to someone today to explore your options 08 088 088 088
+ Affecting LGBTQ
We know that one in four women and one in six men suffer domestic abuse or domestic violence in their lives. We know that there are specific risk issues for the LGBTQ community, and that shame has another layer for this minority group around disclosure and reaction to their sexual orientation.
We know members of the LGBTQ community are also at risk of homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, as well as same sex domestic violence and abuse.
We know that the more barriers there are to accessing the right support the less likely it will be that the individual gets that support.
But you do have a choice! And options.
And a human right to feel safe.
We can explore your situation and offer agencies that are specifically trained to support and understand at depth the needs of the LGBTQ community within the context of domestic abuse and domestic violence.
Helpline volunteers are trained to listen and explore your options with you so you can make a choice that’s right for you. If you are suffering from abuse or violence, please call 08 088 088 088 or email -Support@hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org to find out more about the help that is available to you. Affecting the Elderly
+ Affecting the Elderly
As we get older, some of us may need help looking after our money and paying for things like bills and shopping. Or we may need support getting around or carrying out daily tasks.
If this is your situation you may have an arrangement you're happy with where a friend, relative or a carer helps you. However, sometimes things may go wrong or you may feel uncomfortable with the situation. Mistreatment doesn't always involve a stranger. Someone you think of as a friend, or even a family member, could mistreat you, perhaps by taking money from you or by making you feel afraid, uncomfortable or hurt.
No matter who's helping, you're in charge of making your own decisions and you have a right to be respected or listened to. If you're concerned about yourself there are people you can speak to and there is help available. Trust your instinct - if something doesn't feel right it probably isn't. You don't have to put up with it.
Examples of abuse:
Abuse is when someone we expect to trust causes us harm or distress; Abuse can take many forms, including financial, emotional, physical and sexual; Stealing or pressurising someone to hand over money; Making decisions without consulting the person involved; Treating someone in a way that makes them feel threatened, belittled or embarrassed; Touching someone in a way they don't want to be touched; Physically hurting someone; Neglecting someone's needs.
If you're being cared for abuse can include not giving you enough food, not keeping you warm, refusing to take you to the doctor when you're ill or stopping you from seeing family and friends. It's possible a person could mistreat you in more than one way. Examples of Elder Abuse are available in our blog article with much more information.
Helpline volunteers are here to listen and explore your options with you. Call 08 088 088 088
+ Affecting those with Disabilities or life limiting long term illnesses or conditions
Research shows that individuals with a disability are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse in their lifetime as a non-disabled person; are likely to experience abuse over longer periods of time and are less likely to access support from external agencies.
If you are disabled, your abuser may also be your carer and you may be reliant on them for personal care and mobility. Mistreatment doesn't always involve a stranger. Someone you think of as a friend, or even a family member, could mistreat you. Care, medication and access to the outside world may be withheld as part of the abuse.
Did you know that more and more refuges have wheelchair access and facilities to provide ongoing care for disabled residents?
Examples of abuse:
Abuse is when someone we expect to trust causes us harm or distress; Abuse can take many forms, including financial, emotional, physical and sexual; Stealing or pressuring someone to hand over money; Making decisions without consulting the person involved; Treating someone in a way that makes them feel threatened, belittled or embarrassed; Touching someone in a way they don't want to be touched; Physically hurting someone; Neglecting someone's needs.
If you're being cared for abuse can include not giving you enough food, not keeping you warm, refusing to take you to the doctor when you're ill, or stopping you from seeing family and friends. It's possible a person could mistreat you in more than one way.
Read our Disability and Partener Abuse article for more information about specific challenges faced.
Helpline volunteers can help you explore your options. Call 08 088 088 088
+ Honour Based Abuse
Honour Based Abuse (HBA) (often referred to as 'HBV' - ‘Honour Based Violence’)
"any crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of a family and/or community."
Crimes can include: harassment; assault; false imprisonment; threats to kill; rape and murder. There is, however, no ‘honour’ in murder or abuse of an individual’s human rights.
HBA can be distinguished from domestic abuse and other forms of violence as it is committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or community members, in response to perceived immoral/shameful behaviour, which is deemed to have breached the honour code of the family or community. It may also be linked to misconceptions about culture and/or religious belief.
HBA cuts across a number of cultures and communities, for example, Turkish, Kurdish, Afghani, South Asian, African, Middle Eastern, South & Eastern European and the traveller community. Where a culture is heavily male dominated and honour is a factor, HBA can exist. Click here to read a helpful guide which has been produced by Herts County Council and the Police.
Help is available. Call 08 088 088 088 or email Support@hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org for more information.
+ Forced Marriage
Too often forced marriage is mistakenly understood to be, or linked to, arranged marriage.
The difference between arranged and forced marriage:
In arranged marriages the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage, but the choice whether to accept the arrangement remains with the individuals.
In forced marriage at least one party does not consent to the marriage and some element of duress is involved. Duress can be physical, or extreme emotional/psychological pressure.
Forced marriage is primarily an issue of violence against women. Most cases involve young women and girls aged between 13 and 30 years, although there is evidence to suggest that as many as 15 per cent of victims are male.
Many women forced into a marriage can suffer for many years from domestic abuse. Those who have escaped a forced marriage often live in fear of their own families who will go to great lengths to locate them and ensure their return.
The majority of cases of forced marriage encountered in the UK involve South Asian families. However, despite appearances, this is not solely an “Asian” problem and cuts across many different cultures . Most incidents of forced marriage in Hertfordshire have involved Bangladeshi and Pakistani women around the age of 16 years.
The issue of forced marriage should not be used to stigmatise any community. Some forced marriages take place in the UK with no overseas element while others involve a partner coming from overseas or a British Citizen being sent abroad.
There is no basis in any religion, but often misconceived notions of religion and culture are present in forced marriage and cases of violence related to honour.
The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007
The Act came into force in November 2008 and provides support for potential and actual victims via Forced Marriage Protection Orders. The Orders can be applied for at The High Court and a number of designated County Courts. Luton County Court is the nearest Court for Hertfordshire. The victim or a third party (the local authority or police) may apply. The Orders are tailored to individual circumstances but can include stipulations such as the seizure of travel documents and/or passports; the necessity for leave of the Court for a marriage to take place; permission of the Court prior to the victim travelling outside of the UK.
Although forced marriage is not a criminal offence as such, a power of arrest can be added to the Orders, so that an arrest can be made if there is a breach of the terms of the Order.
You can read more in Information for Herts Schools
If you fear that you may be at risk of being forced into marriage please call 08 088 088 088 or email - Support@hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org to find out more about the help that is available to you.
+ Modern Slavery and Sexual Exploitation
This is an issue of concern in Hertfordshire. Victims of both sexes can be subject to insults, abuse, threats or violence and sexual exploitation. Read more in our blog
+ For those with no recourse to public funds
If you are experiencing domestic abuse but are without indefinite leave to remain then please see government guidance below. Professionals can also share this with patients/clients in this position. Domestic abuse - how to get help.
If your relationship with a British citizen or someone settled in the UK has broken down because of domestic violence, you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permission to stay in the UK permanently).The ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy is a general rule for most people who apply to come to the UK. The policy is based on the principle that people without a permanent right to remain in the UK should not have the same access to benefits as British citizens. Immigration policy states that migrants coming to the UK should be able to provide for themselves financially without relying on benefits from the state. However, the government is aware of the difficulties victims of domestic violence face, in particular those who can’t access public funds. Because of this, the government provides help to these victims who have been admitted to the UK with leave as spouses, unmarried partners or civil partners of a British citizen, or of a non-citizen who is settled in the UK. This allows domestic violence victims to apply for indefinite leave to remain in their own right, if they have been victims of domestic violence. To find out how to apply for settlement as a victim of domestic violence access the government website here.
If you have other questions about Domestic Abuse we are here to help.
Contact us on 08 088 088 088 for FREE confidential information and advice.