Domestic Abuse – What is it and Are there any warning signs?
Domestic abuse is more common than we realise, happening behind closed doors with few or no one aware at all. But what is domestic abuse?
The definition is;
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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.
This can include but is not limited to:
- Online/digital abuse
So what is controlling behaviour?
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.
And what is considered coercive behaviour?
An act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten.
It goes without saying that physical violence is clearly abuse but abuse does not have to be physical, both the physical and non-physical are just as painful and detrimental to the victim and any children of the relationship.
Examples of non-physical abuse include;
- Isolating you from family and friends
- Controlling your finances- your ability to work, how much money you have, how you access money and how you spend it
- Monitoring your movements, checking your whereabouts, your phone, restricting your activities
- Knocking your confidence, repeatedly belittling you, calling you names and making you feel worthless
- Threatening to harm you or your children
- Damaging your property
- Forcing you to take part in criminal activity
- Threatening to publish private information about you or to report you to the authorities
On average two women a week are killed by their partners or ex partners. In Mansfield and Ashfield alone there have been 15 domestic homicides recorded between 2012 and 2015. Nationally the volume of reported domestic abuse crimes rose from 92,779 to 100,930 in 2016 and that’s without the numbers of unreported abuse.
So are there any red flags to look out for when entering a new relationship?
Aggressive behaviour is a clear indicator and signs of controlling behaviour can include; checking your phone, monitoring your whereabouts, putting you down, criticising various aspects of your life/decision making, taking control of your finances.
It can be very difficult to identify but if the behaviour feels wrong and makes you feel uncomfortable, sad or lonely then it is not a healthy relationship.
You can try to find out if you are at risk of abuse. Following the death of Claire Wood in 2009 who was murdered by her partner a campaign for ‘CLARES LAW’ was successful. Now, otherwise known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.
The scheme came into force in 2014 and allows people and agencies to enquire about an individuals past.
Under the scheme there is the ‘right to ask’ and the ‘right to know’.
The ‘right to ask’ allows an individual to ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. If the records show that the individual may be at risk of domestic abuse the police have to consider disclosing the information.
The ‘right to know’ enables an Agency to apply for Disclosure.
The important thing is that anyone being abused or at risk of being abused knows that these things are taken very seriously and there is a lot of help and support available through the Police, Solicitors and support agency’s such as NIDAS, Women’s Aid, Wais and Equation.
Here at Hopkins we provide the legal advice and support to apply for protective orders and to assist you through the legal processes that inevitably arise when there is a separation such as dealing with issues about child contact and residence as well as financial matters. We hold a legal aid contract and can therefore offer assistance with funding for those that meet the income criteria.
Contact us today by phone or the enquiry form below if you’d like to speak to a domestic violence family law specialist. Remember you are not alone, we are all here to support you and your family.