What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is physical, psychological ( emotional), sexual or financial abuse that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and usually forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.

Approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women and the perpetrator is usually male. Whilst most people normally think of domestic violence as being something one partner does to another, abuse by your own family or your partner/ spouse’s family is also domestic violence.

You can use this list* to help you recognise if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship.

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is when family members, including extended family members, use physical violence or emotional pressure to make you marry someone, without your free and full consent.

Threats Regarding ‘Honour’

Immediate and extended family members, partners and ex-partners justifying a range of abusive and violent behaviour (listed below) in the name of ‘honour’. For example, using violence to prevent you from bringing dishonour or shame upon yourself or them.

Destructive Criticism and Verbal Abuse

Shouting/mocking/humiliating/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, demanding more dowry.

Disrespect and Humiliation

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.


Monitoring or blocking your telephone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from contacting friends and relatives; accompanying you wherever you go.


Following you; checking up on you; opening your mail; repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you; embarrassing you in public.


Making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or a gun.

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; raping.


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.


Acting in ways which make you feel suicidal or encouraging you to contemplate or commit suicide.

*This list borrows in part from the list of abusive behaviours provided by the Women’s Aid Federation on their website.

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