Domestic abuse occurs when one adult uses threatening, violent or abusive behaviour to control another person with whom they are having or have had a relationship with. This could be a partner, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or a family member. The abuse could be psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional and is often a combination of these.
It is not only couples who experience abuse. Sometimes, family members are abusive to each other e.g. a son may hit his mother or parents may try to force their daughter into an unwanted marriage.
Abuse can start in quite subtle ways. For instance your partner may start to text you often, question your friendships or say cruel things about the way you behave or look. Abuse often becomes worse over time and can progress to constant harassment, belittling and physical violence. For more information about healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships please follow this link.
Because domestic abuse happens behind closed doors, many people think that it is only happening to them. This is not true - domestic abuse can happen to anyone - it is not related to where you live, your background or ethnicity.