Types of abuse

Domestic abuse can affect anyone, regardless of age, sexuality or gender. Older people and individuals with disabilities are often vulnerable as are young people who may not recognise the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

Domestic abuse can take many different forms:

  • Psychological/emotional abuse - Intimidation and threats (threats to you or your family), social isolation, verbal abuse, humiliation, consistent criticism, enforced trivial routines
  • Physical violence - slapping, punching, pushing, shoving, hair pulling, kicking, damage to property or items of sentimental value
  • Physical restriction of freedom - controlling who you see or where you go, what you wear or do, stalking, imprisonment, and forced marriage
  • Sexual abuse - any non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, sexual assault, coercive sexual activity or refusing safer sex
  • Forced marriage or honour based abuse - forcing someone to marry or punishing someone for bringing 'dishonour' on a family
  • Financial abuse - stealing, depriving or taking control of money, running up debts, withholding benefits or bank cards
  • Coercive or controlling behaviour - taking control of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you wear and when you can sleep

Some people who experience domestic abuse don’t see themselves as victims. Everyone has arguments with their partners, family members and others close to them but if this begins to form a consistent pattern and you often feel afraid, please take a few moments to answer these questions.

Other types of abuse

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FGM involves partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Deriving from complex belief systems FGM is treated as a religious requirement or a necessary rite of passage to womanhood; it's supposed FGM ensures cleanliness or better marriage prospects; prevents promiscuity and excessive clitoral growth; preserves virginity; enhances male sexuality and facilitates child birth.

FGM is usually performed by someone with no medical training. Girls are given no anaesthetic, no antiseptic treatment and are often forcibly restrained. The cutting is made using instruments such as a knife, pair of scissors, scalpel, glass or razor blade. The age of mutilation may range from a few days old to adolescence but the most common age is between 4 and 10.

For further information visit the NHS website.

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