One woman in four (and one man in six) in the UK will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime, according to research estimates. Two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.
Domestic violence is officially classified as "any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality".
We think of domestic violence as hitting, slapping and beating, but it can also include emotional abuse as well as forced marriage and so-called "honour crimes".
It's abuse if your partner or a family member:
- threatens you
- shoves or pushes you
- makes you fear for your physical safety
- puts you down, or attempts to undermine your self-esteem
- controls you, for example by stopping you seeing your friends and family
- is jealous and possessive, such as being suspicious of your friendships and conversations
- frightens you
Where can you get help?
You don’t have to wait for an emergency situation to seek help. You can:
The Survivor's Handbook from the charity Women's Aid is free and provides information on a wide range of issues such as housing, money, helping your children and your legal rights. The handbook is available as a downloadable PDF in 11 languages.
For forced marriage and “honour” crimes, contact Karma Nirvana (0800 5999 247) or The Forced Marriage Unit (020 7008 0151).
Broken Rainbow UK provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.
Men of any age can be victims of domestic violence or abuse, in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Help and support is available from Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 or Mankind on 01823 334 244.
Anyone who needs confidential help with their own abusive behaviour can contact Respect on their free helpline: 0808 802 4040.
If you decide to leave
The first step in escaping an abusive situation is realising that you're not alone and it's not your fault. Try to get advice from an organisation such as Women's Aid or Refuge before you go.
If you're considering leaving, be careful who you tell. It's important that your partner doesn't know where you're going. Planning is very important. If you decide to leave, it will help to take:
- documents, including birth certificates for your children, passports, any medical records, benefits books, and mortgage or rent details
- your address book
- house keys
- if you have young children: baby items, some clothes and a special toy for each child
Women and men who have been sexually assaulted can get confidential help, treatment and support at a sexual assault referral centre. Find your nearest sexual assault referral centre.