What is Domestic Abuse?
Bexley Women’s Aid defines domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence. In the majority of cases by domestic abuse is by partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.
BWA recognises that domestic abuse takes place in a range of situations, including;
- where a man is the victim
- where a woman is the perpetrator
- lesbian and gay relationships
- where the victim is a child or young person under 18 years old
- where the victim is a more vulnerable adult i.e., an older or disabled person
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
- Psychological and/or emotional abuse
- Psychological and emotional abuse have tended to be used interchangeably. The former covers abuse that impacts on the mind and mental health the latter abuse that impacts on emotions and well-being.
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Stalking online or digital abuse
Women’s Aid recognise domestic abuse as a gendered crime which is deeply rooted in the societal inequality between women and men. According to the United Nations (UN) (1993), it takes place “because she is a woman and [domestic abuse] happens disproportionately to women”.
Women are more likely than men to experience multiple incidents of abuse, different types of domestic abuse (intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking) and in particular sexual violence. Any woman can experience domestic abuse regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, sexuality, class, or disability, but some women who experience other forms of oppression and discrimination may face further barriers to disclosing abuse and finding help. Domestic abuse exists as part of violence against women and girls; which also includes different forms of family violence such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so called “honour crimes” that are perpetrated primarily by family members, often with multiple perpetrators.