Spotting the Signs of Abuse

From financial control to ‘gaslighting’, ‘Domestic’ Violence (DV) can take many forms and goes far beyond mere physical violence.

What is Domestic Violence & Abuse? 

Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) is a pattern of behaviour used by one person to establish power and control over another through fear and intimidation and the threat or actual use of violence.

It is a crime entrenched in inequality and one which impacts women of every race, ethnicity, sexuality, religious background, disability and economic standing.

MYTH-BUSTING: Domestic Violence is NOT just perpetrated by partners / former partners. It can also be a method of control used by other members of a household as well as by other women e.g. fathers, brothers, uncles, in-laws etc.

No-one has the right to threaten your safety or impede your human rights. So if you are suffering from any of the following forms of abuse, please seek help and advice as soon as you can.

DVA includes:


An emotionally abusive person seeks to HARM YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE and SELF-ESTEEM.  Forms of emotional abuse include:

  • Belittling you in front of other people
  • Overly criticising you (the ‘not-good-enough’ factor)
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Constant contact e.g. excessive texts and calls
  • Making you doubt yourself by acting as though they know what is best for you
  • ‘Gaslighting’ – causing you to question your own perceptions, memories, understanding, feelings and sanity (‘you’re the crazy one, not me’)
  • Blaming you for their problems
  • Consistently calling on you to ‘prove your love’ to them by making you do things you don’t want to do
  • Isolating you from any friends and relatives who might question their words and actions
  • Emotionally blackmailing / forcing you to undertake actions that go against your free will e.g. forced marriage, FGM, handing over property and money etc.


A financially abusive person can leave you feeling ISOLATED and TRAPPED by preventing you from having control over your money. It includes:

  • Controlling your bank account
  • Running up debts in your name
  • Stopping you from getting (or keeping) a job
  • Refusing to honour their financial pledges/promises to you
  • Making you hand over your wages or benefits
  • Making you ask others for money e.g. family and friends
  • Not allowing you to spend money on yourself or your children
  • Making you account for every penny you spend
  • Stealing, taking or demanding money from you
  • Threatening violence if you do not heed their financial demands


Physical abuse is the DELIBERATE HURTING of another human being so as to cause injury. Signs may include:

  • Cuts and bruises
  • Burns
  • Restraint or grip markings
  • Red or purple marks at the neck
  • Sprained wrists
  • Black eyes
  • Unusual patterns of injury
  • Repeated trips to the emergency room
  • Dietary abuses – extreme under/over eating / nutritional issues


Sexual abuse is the imposition of forced or coerced sexual contact by one person without consent on another. It is one of the most extreme forms of psychological and physical assaults borne of a desire to CONTROL, HARM, HUMILIATE, DOMINATE and SILENCE the victim. Forms of sexual abuse upon women and children include:

  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Child Sexual Abuse / Molestation
  • Oral sex
  • Harassment (online and physical)
  • Flashing / the exposing of sexual parts
  • Forcing / blackmailing a person to pose for sexual pictures
  • Unwanted sexual touching above and under clothing.
  • Force which may include physical assaults, immobilisation of the victim and the use of weapons.


Stalking is any form of PERSISTENT and UNWANTED attention that makes you feel constantly anxious, harassed and afraid that violence may be used against you. Stalking isn’t just ‘physical’ — cyber-stalking and threats made through social media platforms, email and other internet gateways are just as intimidating and are being used more and more by perpetrators of abuse. Forms of stalking and online abuse include:

  • Phone calls from unknown / withheld numbers
  • Social media / networking requests by people you don’t know on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc.
  • Harassing comments, emails, texts
  • And influx of email and text message spam (stalkers want to make contact in any way possible and can sign you up for deals etc. so that you are harassed in this consistent way)
  • Vehicles in front of your home or work place for no apparent reason, especially at odd times
  • Damage to property e.g. your car being ‘keyed’, tyres flattened, front door scratched, gardens ruined etc. in a consistent manner
  • Feeling of being followed