Everyone has disagreements with their partners, family members and others close to them from time to time. However, when intense arguments, silent treatment or hostile verbal exchanges begins to form a consistent pattern, or you feel someone is trying to control you then it could be domestic abuse. You can explore this by signing up to one of our courses in the community such as the freedom programme or ‘own my life’ where you can find out more about healthy and unhealthy conflict.
Womens aid describes domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading or violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but could be by a family member or carer. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.
Recognising abuse can be difficult but some common signs are below:
- They try to stop you seeing friends and family
- They could be jealous or possessive
- You feel anxious, scared, withdrawn or depressed.
- Acts of Physical violence or threats
- Continually calling or messaging when you are apart
- Feeling pressured or forced to do sexual things
- Are they controlling all the money?
- Are you being harassed or stalked after ending a relationship?
See our page on recognising abuse for more in depth information.
If you’re worried a friend is being abused, then let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong and ask them if they need some support. They might not be ready to talk, but try to find quiet time when they can talk if they wish and follow the steps below.
What do I do if someone has confided in me?
If someone is confiding in you about being subjected to domestic abuse, your response is very important. You can make a real difference. If the person feels supported by those around them, they are more likely to seek help. Remember to:
- Listen, and take care not to blame them
- Acknowledge that it takes strength to talk to someone about being abused
- Give the person time to talk
- Acknowledge they are in a frightening and difficult situation
- Tell them nobody should be made to feel scared, despite what the abuser has said
- Support them – encourage them to express their feelings, and make their own decisions
- Don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they’re not ready – that’s their decision
- If they have suffered physical harm – offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
- Help them report to the police if they choose to
- Help with information on organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse
If you are worried about yourself or someone else, you can call the national 24 hour helpline: 0808 2000 247
Calls to this number are free of charge and will not appear in your call history. All calls are private, confidential and, if you prefer, anonymous. The helpline can provide access to an interpreter for non-English-speaking callers. For further information, see the Helpline FAQs
Women’s Aid also have some information on their website which describes ways you may be able to help: I’m worried about someone else (opens in a new tab)