Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can happen in any relationship

Anyone can experience domestic abuse, regardless of age, race, sex, gender identity, sexuality, ability, wealth, or lifestyle. Someone can experience abuse from a current or ex-partner, in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, or from children or other family members.

Whoever you are and whatever abuse you’re experiencing, you’re not alone.


It’s not just about physical harm

Domestic abuse is behaviour that is intended to dominate, threaten, coerce and control someone else in an intimate relationship. Domestic abuse is not only about violence and physical harm. It can include emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.

Forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called “honour”-based violence are also forms of domestic abuse.

If someone is being abused, they may be experiencing some or all of the following:

  • Mocking, humiliation, insults, criticism
  • Being checked up on, followed, or stalked
  • Pressure, threats, intimidation, or violence
  • Destruction of their possessions
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Being forced into sex
  • Having money taken or controlled
  • Lying, blame and denial of the abuse


You’re not alone

Domestic abuse is very common. It can be very difficult for someone who is experiencing domestic abuse to reach out to an expert support service or to the police. This means that the scale of the problem is not well recognised in everyday life.


Find out more

Coercive control

This is when a partner, ex partner or family member repeatedly does things that make you feel controlled, dependent, isolated or scared. Over a period of time it chips away at your self confidence and self esteem.

Coercive control is when someone


  • Makes you feel like everything is your fault
  • Monitors what you do, where you go, your texts and calls
  • Controls who you see, what you wear, when you sleep, and how you spend your time
  • Makes you feel isolated by making you feel it’s easier not to go out to see friends or family
  • Keeps track of what you do online
  • Deprives you of basic needs, such as food or medical services
  • Puts you down, humiliates you, and makes you feel worthless
  • Controls your finances, or makes you take out loans
  • Intimidates you or threatens to hurt you, your family, or your pets
  • Threatens to damage your things
  • Stops you from working or makes you work
  • Threatens to share sexual images of you
  • Makes you feel scared
Psychological and emotional abuse

This is when a partner, ex-partner or family member says and does things to make you feel controlled, dependent, isolated, confused or scared. Psychological or emotional abuse isn’t physical but can be just as traumatic.

Over a period of time, it can confuse or influence your everyday life and affect your confidence and self-esteem.

Psychological or emotional abuse is when someone


  • Humiliates your or puts you down in front of others
  • Makes you feel as though everything is your fault
  • Calls you names
  • Gives you the ‘silent treatment’
  • ‘Gaslights’ you by lying and using false information to make you question your memory, perception, and sanity
Physical abuse

This is when somebody hurts or injures you on purpose. It includes pushing, hitting, pushing, punching, kicking, strangling you, or using a weapon to physically hurt you in any way.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse can happen in or outside of relationships, including marriage. If you’re being pressured to have sex, get involved in sexual acts or made to watch pornography, if you’re being hurt during sex or pressured to have unprotected sex, this is sexual abuse.  

Financial or economic abuse

Financial abuse is when someone controls or misuses your money in a way that limits your freedom.

Economic abuse is wider than financial abuse. It’s when your access to basic resources like food, clothing, transport, accommodation or income is interfered with, restricted or taken away altogether.

This could be:

  • Controlling the family income
  • Refusing to contribute to household income or costs
  • Stopping you from going to work, restricting your working hours or accessing education
  • Taking your pay
  • Not letting you access a bank account
  • Controlling when and how you spend money and what you can buy, or place certain conditions on whether you can have it
  • Make you justify everything you spend money on
  • Insisting your savings, house or any other assets are in their name
  • Interfering with or preventing you from sorting out your immigration status so you’re financially dependent on the perpetrator
  • Stopping you from claiming benefits or making you commit benefit fraud
  • Stealing your money or property
  • Spending money needed for household costs on themselves
  • Insist all bills, credit cards and loans are in your name and make you pay for them
  • Force or encourage you to get into debt, or take out loans in your name without you knowing
Harassment or stalking

Stalking is a pattern of persistent and unwanted behaviour that can make you feel pestered, threatened or scared. It happens when the person stalking becomes fixated or obsessed with you and it’s a criminal offence.

It can include:

  • Repeated unwanted contact, either by phone, email, on social media or turning up in person
  • Following you
  • Checking your emails and phone calls
  • Sending unwanted gifts
  • Sending you threatening messages
  • Damaging your property


Help for stalking

Equation and Juno Women’s Aid’s Stalking Advisory Service is here for anyone experiencing stalking, regardless of whether you’re experiencing domestic abuse.


Online or digital abuse

If your accounts are being monitored or someone is using software to monitors what you’re doing or where you’re going, or intimate videos or photos have been shared online without your consent, you’re being digitally abused.


This can include


  • Tracking your whereabouts or monitoring who leaves or arrives in your home using ring doorbells or smart locks
  • Monitoring or controlling your emails, phone calls or social media – either without you knowing or against your will
  • Hijacking or setting up fake social media accounts or other accounts, to impersonate you or gain your personal information
  • Trolling you or posting false and malicious information about you on your or others’ social media
  • Threatening to, or actually sharing sexual images of you
  • Harassing you through unwanted and excessive messages or calls
  • Using spyware or GPS locators on phones, computers, wearable technology, cars or pets, and even children’s toys
  • Hacking devices like laptops, PlayStations or iPads to get access to accounts or see your location history
  • Using personal devices like smart watches or smart home devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home to monitor, control or frighten you
  • Using hidden microphones and cameras

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