Domestic violence is coercive or controlling abusive behaviour within an intimate or family- relationship.
The abuse needn't necessarily involve violence. It can be physical or sexual but it can also be psychological, emotional or even financial and is often a combination of these types of abuse. Forced marriage and so-called 'honour based violence' are also forms of domestic violence.
Sexual abuse is a common component of domestic violence. This includes rape and sexual assault, which are crimes, even if they take part within a marriage or between partners or ex-partners. Examples of sexual abuse can include:
- using threats or intimidation to engage in sexual activity
- taunting or using degrading treatment related to sexuality
- forcing the use of pornography
- forcing partners to have sex with other people.
Domestic violence takes place in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender and heterosexual relationships. The abuser can be your current or former partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, child or other family member.
However, domestic violence is most commonly committed by men against women.
Any woman can experience domestic violence, regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability, lifestyle, sexuality or age.
If you are suffering from any form of domestic violence, please remember: your abuser is solely responsible for their actions, which probably come from a desire for power and control over you. The abuse is not your fault.