equality, empowerment & advancement
Domestic Violence and Abuse
1. What is domestic abuse?
It is any threatening, abusive, violent, controlling, coercive, degrading behaviour in the home between adults or with children?
Domestic abuse can be
- Psychological and/or emotional
- Physical or sexual
- Financial abuse
- Harassment and stalking
- Online or digital
- Female circumcision
- Forced marriage
- Honour killing
2. Who are victims of domestic abuse?
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background
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.
Why do people abuse?
The main reason for abuse is to control, manipulate exercise power over the other person.
3. Signs of domestic violence and abuse
How will you know if you are being abused? If your answer to these questions is yes then you may be a victim of abuse.
Does your partner:
- slap, hit or punch you?
- push or shove you
- bite or kick you?
- burn you? choke you or hold you down? throw things?
- threaten to hurt or kill you?
- destroy things that belong to you?
- throw things
Does your partner ever:
- belittle you, or put you down? blame you for the abuse or arguments?
- deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
- isolate you from your family and friends?
- stop you going to college or work
- make unreasonable demands for your attention?
- accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
- tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think
- control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things
- stand over you, invade your personal space?
- threaten to kill themselves or the children?
- read your emails, texts or letters
- harass or follow you?
- A third of domestic violence and abuse against women starts during pregnancy. If the relationship is already abusive, it can get worse. Have you ever changed your behaviour because you’re afraid of what your partner might do?
- Touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
- make unwanted sexual demands?
- hurt you during sex?
- pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
- pressure you to have sex?
- If your partner has sex with you when you don’t want to, this is rape.
- Have you ever felt afraid of your partner?
- If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, there is help available.
4. The effects of domestic violence
- It creates fear, shame
- Low self-esteem
Inability to make decision
- It creates anger, hate
- Helping a friend if they’re being abused
- If you’re worried a friend is being abused, let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong.
- They might not be ready to talk, but try to find quiet times when they can talk if they choose to.
- If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:
- listen, and take care not to blame them
- acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse
- give them time to talk, but don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation
- tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said
- support them as a friend – encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions
- don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they’re not ready – that’s their decision
- ask if they have suffered physical harm – if so, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
- help them report the assault to the police if they choose to be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse
If you decide to leave
The first step in escaping an abusive situation is realising that you’re not alone and it’s not your fault.
Before you go, try to get advice from an organisation such as:
Women’s Aid or Refuge for women
Men’s Advice Line for men. Getting help and support for domestic violence
Women can call 0808 2000 247, the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence
Men can call the Men’s Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327
ManKind on 01823 334 244
In an emergency, call 999
How do we react to domestic violence, what kind of support system do we need, what research been done to see how Africans handle domestic violence and abuse. What role will do culture and faith play in our reporting domestic violence?By Bertha Yakubu