Understanding domestic violence and relationship abuse We're all affected by the issue of domestic violence To understand domestic violence or relationship abuse, we must recognize that it is more than physical violence. Ending the harm and stigma of domestic violence requires a nuanced understanding of the behaviours that define it, as well as examples of healthy relationships to inform your decisions and interactions moving forward. Our specialists can discuss your situation and help you determine if your relationship might be abusive. You can reach our helpline on 0300 365 1700 or email us. What is abuse We define 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 a 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. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim — or perpetrator — of domestic violence. That includes behaviors that physically harm, intimidate, manipulate or control a partner, or otherwise force them to behave in ways they don’t want to, including through physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, or financial control. There are many different types of abuse and multiple forms of abuse are usually present at the same time in abusive situations, and it’s essential to understand how these behaviours interact so you know what to look for. When we know what relationship looks like and means, we can then take steps to get help for ourselves as well as better support others who are experiencing abuse.