How to recognise domestic abuse

Domestic abuse may include a range of abusive behaviours.


Types of abuse

Examples of the different types of domestic abuse are/can include:

Physical abuse

  • Hitting
  • Slapping
  • Punching
  • Biting
  • Pulling hair
  • Burning

Emotional abuse

  • Being constantly put down in front of other people
  • Being verbally abused and humiliated
  • Being constantly blamed for things
  • Being isolated from friends and family

Sexual abuse

  • Rape
  • Forced vaginal or anal penetration by fingers or other objects
  • Being forced to watch pornography
  • Being spoken to in a sexually degrading way
  • Indecent phone calls

Financial abuse

  • Having to account for everything you spend
  • Having money taken from you
  • Being kept without money


  • Being watched
  • Being followed
  • Being pestered
  • Receiving unwanted phone calls or text messages

How to recognise if someone is being abused

  • Has the person you're worried about been kept from seeing their friends or family by her/his partner?
  • Has their partner prevented them from continuing or starting a college course, or from going to work?
  • Does their partner constantly check up on them or follow them?
  • Does their partner unjustly accuse them of flirting or of having affairs with others?
  • Does their partner constantly belittle or humiliate them, or regularly criticise or insult them in front of other people?
  • Is she/he ever afraid of their partner?
  • Has she/he ever changed their behaviour because they are afraid of what their partner might do or say to them?
  • Has their partner ever destroyed any of their possessions deliberately?
  • Has their partner ever hurt or threatened them or their children?
  • Has their partner ever kept them short of money so they are unable to buy food and other necessary items for them and their children?
  • Has their partner ever forced them to do something that she/he really did not want to do?
  • Has their partner ever tried to prevent them from taking necessary medication, or seeking medical help when they felt they needed it?
  • Has their partner ever tried to control them by telling them they could be deported because of their immigration status?
  • Has their partner ever threatened to take their children away, or said they would refuse to let them see them, if she/he left them?
  • Has their partner ever forced them to have sex with him/her or with other people? Have they made them participate in sexual activities that they were uncomfortable with?
  • Has their partner ever tried to prevent them leaving the house?
  • Does the partner blame their use of alcohol or drugs for their behaviour?
  • Does their partner control their use of alcohol or drugs (for example, by forcing them intake or by withholding substances)?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, this indicates that the person you are worried about may be experiencing domestic abuse.