AdviceDomestic Violence

What is domestic abuse?

Within all relationships there are ups and downs and people can say or do things which are hurtful to each other, however there is a difference between the course of normal relationship issues and domestic abuse.

The Home Office definition* of domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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.

Abuse can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional

Controlling behaviour is 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.

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

* This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

How Cavell Nurses’ Trust can help

Many people leave abusive relationships suddenly and with very few possessions. Starting again can be difficult.

Cavell Nurses’ Trust can assist with grants towards the cost of essential household furnishings and electrical items such as a washing machine. If you are able to forward plan, sometimes Cavell Nurses’ Trust can help with rental deposits – as long as you're receiving support from a support agency.

If you have a limited income, depending upon your individual circumstances we may be able to offer some short-term financial support.

Cavell Nurses’ Trust can provide contact details of a local domestic abuse service and provide advice and support.

We're here for you. Get in touch.

Rhoda's story

Rhoda has been left with no hearing in one ear due to the blows she used to receive on a regular basis from her husband and unknown to her, his infidelity led to them both contracting HIV.

Read Rhoda's full story

Domestic abuse is about power and control.

Domestic abuse does not have to be physical, it can take many forms but all include a pattern of behaviour that exerts power and control over the other person. Domestic abuse also tends not to just happen once, over time it tends to take place more often and get more serious.

Where domestic abuse takes place within a family, it is often not just the adults that are effected - the whole family suffers. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social background or religion and it can start at any stage of the relationship.

Types of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can take many forms and may include just one or several of the behaviours below:

• Physical abuse this can include hitting, punching, burning, strangling, slapping, biting, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing and shoving.

• Sexual abuse this can include forcing unwanted sexual acts, including rape, using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.

• Emotional abuse such as constant criticism, insults, undermining capabilities.

• Isolation such as preventing someone from having or developing family, social or professional relationships, preventing from working, monitoring or blocking telephone calls, never leaving you alone. To outsiders the perpetrator may appear to be very caring, always wanting to be by your side, the reality is that you are never allowed to be on your own.

• Financial abuse which includes withholding money, making a person account for every penny they spend, taking money without asking, being forced to take on debts, having your salary being paid in your partners account

• Threats including making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a weapon, threatening to kill or harm you and/or children.

However, the list above is not exhaustive.

Often people do not realise that they are victims of domestic abuse. If you think you are or may be the victim of domestic abuse there are many agencies that can help.

Getting more help

24 hour National Domestic Abuse helpline
0808 200247 (delivered in partnership with Women’s Aid and Refuge)


Women’s Aid

Galop - Specialist advice for LGBT community:
020 7704 2040

Freedom Programme
01547 520 228