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Signs of domestic abuse

There are many different types of domestic abuse. It’s a crime that involves an abuser having power and control over a victim and it can happen to anyone, at any time.

As a victim of domestic abuse, the most important thing you can do is admit its happening and tell someone.

Recognising the signs of domestic abuse

We understand it’s natural to feel scared and you might be worried that contacting us may put you in danger. It’s our duty to protect you and by contacting us, we can help you take positive action against your offender. The important things to know are;

  • there are no excuses for domestic abuse
  • it isn’t your fault
  • we will take your report seriously
  • support services are available for you to speak to.

Worried about domestic abuse

If you think someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse, the most important thing you can do is be supportive, to be open-minded and to listen. 

The victim may not want to admit that he or she is in an abusive relationship. As an outsider, it may be hard to understand why victims don’t leave abusive relationships, or why they return to them, but it is important that the victim knows you are there to provide them with support and help when it is needed most.

It isn’t easy to support someone experiencing domestic abuse. There are many organisations that can offer support and advice to you and the person you know.

What we do to help domestic abuse victims

As a victim of domestic abuse, you may be unsure whether or not to call us for help. We urge all victims to get in touch so that you don’t suffer in silence. We can;

  • protect you if you’re in immediate danger
  • help you and any children get away safely
  • arrest abusers without a warrant
  • put you in contact with support services 
  • begin prosecution proceedings against your abuser.

Domestic violence protection orders

We can issue Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) when there is not enough evidence to charge an offender.

DVPOs can prevent offenders from returning to particular addresses and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days. This aims to give victims time to consider their options and the help of a support agency. The protection orders are a two-step process;

  1. when we are called to a domestic abuse incident and have reasonable grounds to believe a victim remains at risk, an emergency Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) can be issued which gives the victim immediate protection
  2. within 48 hours of a DVPN being served, an application to a magistrates’ court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order will be made by our officers. The initial emergency notice will continue until the court makes a decision. If the court believes the victim needs continued protection, they may issue a DVPO which can last up to 28 days.

View our Domestic Violence Protection Order policy for more information on how we manage domestic abuse investigations.

Types of domestic abuse 

Types of domestic abuse
Psychological abuse Psychological abuse can include violence or the threat of violence to make their victim fear them. This type of abuse can come in the form of; humiliation and embarrassment, control of what they can and cannot do and social isolation from friends and family members.
Physical abuse Physical abuse involves causing harm and injury to a victim and in extreme cases, it can result in disabling or even death. An abuser can cause physical injury through the use of weapons, restraint or the use of their own size or strength.

To classify physical abuse or violence, an injury does not have to be major or require medical treatment. Physical abuse can also include; burning, shaking, pushing, punching, biting and grabbing.

Financial abuse Financial domestic abuse is the most common type of abuse, although it is often the most difficult to recognise. Partners deny the victim access to money or other financial dealings, sometimes with an abuser not allowing their partner to work, forcing their partner into social isolation which has similar limitations seen in psychological abuse.
Emotional abuse Emotional abuse is the cause of someone to feel a lack of self-respect or self-worth and can be constant, unrelenting insults and criticisms intended to humiliate and bad-mouth the victim. This type of abuse is often connected with other forms of domestic abuse to gain control over the victim and emotional ‘scars’ can often be as harmful as physical ones.
Sexual abuse Sexual abuse involves an abuser physically sexually assaulting or raping a victim. It also includes degrading and humiliating behaviour such as; exposing a partner or victims’ body to others, forcing someone to pose for pornographic photos, secretly filming someone whilst engaging in sexual activity, forcing a partner to have sex without protection or forcing a partner to have an abortion, known as reproductive coercion.

Sexual assault or abuse can happen to anyone, including those who may be unable to refuse due to disability, illness or whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The three main forms of sexual abuse are;

  • the use of physical force to make someone engage in sexual activity against their will, whether any sexual act is performed or not
  • having or attempting to have sex with someone who doesn’t understand the nature of the act or request, or is unable to refuse, or is unable to communicate their refusal
  • any abusive sexual contact, of any kind.

Signs to look out for in domestic abuse victims

Victims of domestic abuse may show signs of;

  • physical injuries
  • excuses for frequent injuries
  • stress, anxiety or depression
  • absent from work and social occasions
  • personality changes – being jumpy or nervous
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of independent communication
  • self-blame
  • increased alcohol or drug use
  • lack of money
  • damage to property.

Signs to look out for in an abuser

Every case of domestic abuse is different but there signs suggesting someone may be abusing you, which can include but aren’t limited to;

  • controlling behaviour
  • bullying
  • being forced into a sexual act
  • humiliation
  • constant yelling and shouting
  • the threat or use of violence
  • destroying personal items
  • limiting  contact with family, friends and work colleagues
  • checking up on your whereabouts
  • accusing you, the victim, of committing the abuse when it is the other way around.

Being an abuser

If you think you may be an abuser, help is available. If you would like to seek help, you can talk to your GP or arrange counselling, visit the Everyman Project website for advice.

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