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Domestic abuse is a crime and is unacceptable. It is about power and control. It is rarely a one off incident, but a pattern of abusive and coercive control and can take many forms, often escalating in frequency and severity.

Domestic abuse affects men, women and children. It can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, disability, age, race, social group, wealth, class or lifestyle.

The cross-Government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Family members - mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and grandparents whether directly related, in laws or step-family. The Government definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Forms of domestic abuse can include:

(this list is not exhaustive)

Physical abuse:

  • Slapping
  • Pinching
  • Beating
  • Kicking
  • Scalding
  • Punching
  • Stabbing
  • Strangulation
  • Suffocation
  • Use of a weapon
  • Destroying possessions
  • At its extreme, it can result in murder

Financial abuse:

  • Forcing you to take out loans or debts
  • Witholding money
  • Forcing you to beg for money
  • Having to account for every penny spent

Stalking and harassment:

  • Unwanted or malicious persistent communication
  • Turning up at or waiting at your workplace/home unannounced/unwanted
  • Being followed
  • Sending unwanted gifts

Sexual abuse:

  • Forced to have sex against your will (rape)
  • Forced to watch or make pornography or take pornographic images
  • Making sexually inappropriate/degrading comments
  • Forced to have sex with or in front of others
  • Being made to do things you feel uncomfortable with

Emotional and psychological abuse:

  • Being isolated from friends and family
  • Not being allowed money, food, sleep or freedom
  • Being made to feel too tired or exhausted
  • Degrading treatment
  • Intimidation and bullying (in private and public)
  • Threats made to harm you, your children, your pets, your friends/family
  • Constant criticism and being told you are useless, ugly or worthless

The 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates 1.2 million females and 70,000 males have experienced domestic abuse in the last year

On average, 32,000 incidents of domestic abuse are reported to police in the Thames Valley each year. On average, 153 incidents of domestic abuse are reported to police in Bracknell Forest each month

Thames Valley Police

Domestic abuse will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime

Living without abuse