What Is Abuse

Abuse, which is also called domestic violence, is any behaviour that causes physical, sexual or emotional damage, or causes you to live in fear. Non-physical forms of abuse can be just as damaging as physical violence.

Emotional abuse is when your partner:

constantly puts you down or criticises you
threatens to stop you from seeing your children, or
threatens to commit suicide if you leave the relationship.

Social abuse may include:
preventing you from seeing your friends and family
making you feel guilty about going to work or socialising
constantly checking up on your whereabouts.
Financial abuse is when your partner takes control of your financial affairs when you don't want him to, or prevents you from having access to money.

Sexual abuse is making you do sexual things that you don't want to do. Forcing you to have sex is a criminal offence, even if you are married.

Stalking is when a partner or ex-partner follows you around, or repeatedly tries to contact you, even if you've said you don't want this.

Physical abuse includes pushing, hitting, throwing objects, or threatening to physically harm you, other people, or pets.

Can this be happening to me?

Abuse can be difficult to identify, because an abusive person doesn't always act this way. Sometimes they may be loving and kind. But if you often feel afraid of upsetting your partner, and change what you do to avoid their anger, then this is a sign that you are being abused.

How might this be affecting me?

All forms of abuse have damaging consequences. Your confidence can become worn down by abuse. If you have been in an abusive relationship you may feel: afraid to tell anyone
worried that it's your fault
depressed and alone
scared of coping on your own
scared it will get worse if you leave
worried about what others will think
afraid that no-one will believe you
frustrated and sad because you've tried everything.

Your safety is important
It's important to think carefully about your safety and prepare yourself in case you or your children are placed in physical danger. If you are in immediate danger, or if you have been physically or sexually assaulted, threatened or stalked, you can call the police on 000. If there's sufficient evidence, they should lay criminal charges. If you need legal protection from further violence, you can apply for an Intervention Order. This is a court order that can say the abuser is not allowed to hurt or threaten you, or is not allowed to come near you. If the abuser disobeys the Intervention Order, he can be charged with a criminal offence. Contact the services listed for more information on your legal rights.