How do I know if I am experiencing domestic violence & abuse?

Domestic violence is physical, sexual, psychological or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and ‘honour crimes’.

All forms of domestic violence come from the abuser’s desire for power and control over other family members or intimate partners.

This list explains some of the ways in which a partner or family member can be abusive and can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship:

Physical violence

  • Punching
  • Slapping
  • Hitting
  • Biting
  • Pinching
  • Kicking
  • Pulling hair
  • Pushing,
  • Shoving
  • Burning
  • Strangling

Verbal abuse

  • Shouting
  • Mocking
  • Accusing
  • Name calling
  • Being verbally threatening

Sexual violence

  • Using force
  • Threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts
  • Having sex with you when you don’t want to have sex
  • Any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation


  • Monitoring or blocking your telephone calls
  • Telling you where you can and cannot go
  • Preventing you from seeing friends and relatives


  • Following you
  • Checking up on you
  • Opening your mail
  • Repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you
  • Embarrassing you in public


  • Making angry gestures
  • Using physical size to intimidate you
  • Shouting you down
  • Destroying your possessions
  • Breaking things
  • Punching walls
  • Wielding weapons
  • Threatening to kill or harm you and the children


  • Persistently putting you down in front of other people
  • Not listening or responding when you talk
  • Interrupting your telephone calls
  • Taking money from you without asking
  • Refusing to help with childcare or housework

Pressure tactics

  • Sulking
  • Threatening to withhold money/disconnect the telephone/take the car away/commit suicide/take the children away/report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children
  • Lying to your friends and family about you
  • Telling you that you have no choice in any decisions

Breaking trust

  • Lying to you
  • Withholding information from you
  • Being jealous
  • Having other relationships
  • Breaking promises and shared agreements


  • Saying the abuse doesn’t happen
  • Saying you caused the abusive behaviour
  • Being publicly gentle and patient
  • Crying and begging for forgiveness
  • Promising it will never happen again

Domestic violence & abuse of any kind is never okay and never your fault.