Is this abuse?

Individuals affected by domestic abuse often may not recognise their experience /relationship as abusive. Many victims of domestic abuse will try to justify the behaviour of those who abuse them because they still love and care for them. Victims may be encouraged to believe the abuse is their fault and that their own behaviour is to blame.

The following themes are helpful to explore with an individual who may be at risk from domestic abuse:

  • The effect on the victim
    • Victims may be frightened, feel unsafe at home, consistently controlled in terms of actions, speech and/or relationships and may be physically injured. They may ultimately be in fear of their life.
  • The pattern or repetitive nature of behaviours
    • The pattern or repetitive nature of behaviours is a defining element of domestic abuse. Incidents will form a pattern of behaviour, rather than being a unique or one-off incident. Violence may vary in frequency, however, behaviours designed to assert coercive control will form an ongoing and escalating pattern. Coercive control underpins violence and threats of violence, including sexual violence.
  • The intentions and behaviours used by the perpetrator
    • All forms of domestic abuse – psychological, financial, emotional, physical and sexual – come from the abuser's desire for power and control over intimate partners or other family members.
  • Markers and examples of abusive behaviours and activities are as follows:
    • The use of threats or implied threats in order to control every day decisions and actions, in order to maximise control and limit resistance
    • The use of degrading behaviours and language to undermine confidence and self esteem
    • The use of threats or physical harm (including sexual violence) to the victim and/or others to instil fear and limit resistance to other demands or expectations
    • Limiting access to outside support and support networks
    • Using a variety of behaviours and messages which deprive the victim of the capacity to take decisive action