Domestic abuse is when a partner, ex-partner, family member or carer engages in controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading or violent behaviour, including sexual violence. Read more >
7 million women and girls aged over 16 experienced domestic abuse in the year up to March 2022.
Almost one in three women aged over 16 have experienced domestic abuse in their adult life.
These are some of the different types of domestic abuse:
Physical abuse, which is when someone harms the other person’s body, causing them to experience pain or suffer physical injuries. Physical abuse includes slapping, beating, hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, biting, choking, pushing, grabbing, shaking, or burning another person.
Sexual abuse, which includes any form of touching or sexual contact without the other person’s explicit consent. Sexual abuse also includes any form of sexual contact between an adult and a person below the age of 18.
Emotional or psychological abuse, which includes yelling, cursing, name-calling, bullying, coercing, humiliating, gaslighting, harassing, infantilizing, threatening, frightening, isolating, manipulating, or otherwise controlling another person. Emotional/psychological abuse can be just as harmful as sexual or physical abuse.
Neglect, which involves failing to provide a child or a dependent adult with necessities such as food, water, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision. Neglect can also be emotional, which involves failing to provide love, care, and emotional support to a family member.
Financial abuse, which involves taking control of an individual’s finances by controlling their income, restricting their ability to work, or accumulating debts in their name.
Cultural identity abuse, which involves using aspects of a person’s cultural identity to cause pain. This might involve threatening to out a person as LGBTQ+, using racial or ethnic slurs, or not permitting the person to practice traditions and customs of their faith.
Technological abuse, which involves using technology as a means to threaten, stalk, harass, and abuse the other person. Examples of this form of abuse include using tracking devices to monitor someone’s movements or online activities and demanding to have access to the person’s social media or email accounts.
Immigration abuse, which involves inflicting harm on a person by using their immigration status to threaten or restrict aspects of their life. Examples of this might involve threatening the individual’s family members, destroying or hiding their immigration papers, and threatening to have them deported.
Coercive control which is the act or a pattern of acts such as assault, threat’s, humiliation intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.
‘Sexual violence’ is a term we use to describe any sexual activity that happened without consent. It includes behaviour such as ‘unwanted sexual touching’ and it is important to use the word ‘violence’ as it explains the serious and lasting impact that non-consensual sexual activity and acts can have on victims and survivors. Read more >
Consent can only be given by someone who has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Sex without consent is rape. This is a very serious crime that carries the same maximum sentence as murder. Read more >
Less than 16% of serious sexual assaults are reported to the Police.
360 rape offences were recorded by Police in Ealing in 2022.
Sexual harassment is any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that makes you feel intimidated, humiliated, uncomfortable, degraded, scared, or is meant to make you feel that way. It can happen in public or private places, over electronic devices or in online spaces, by a stranger or someone you know. Read more >
86% of women aged 18-24 experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public place.
Sexual harassment includes a wide range of behaviours, such as:
Flashing/exposure – for example, exposing genitals in a public place and/or masturbating in public (this can also be done underneath someone’s clothing).
Sexual comments/gestures – behaviour such as ‘catcalling’ and ‘wolf-whistling’, sexual propositions (verbal and non-verbal), and/or making comments about someone’s body.
Stalking – classed as a pattern of fixated or obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the person targeted – find out more.
‘Cyberflashing’ – for example, sending or showing sexual images and/or website content/links, commonly transmitted via AirDrop or Bluetooth.
Intrusive/persistent questioning – when you’ve made it clear you don’t want to talk to someone – e.g. “Have you got a boyfriend/girlfriend?”, “Where are you going?” etc.
Touching or rubbing against the clothed body of another person in a crowd (e.g. on a busy train or bus) as a means of obtaining sexual gratification.
Watching explicit content in public areas – e.g. pornography, including in some cases trying to show this content to others nearby.
‘Upskirting’ – placing a camera beneath a person’s clothing to take a voyeuristic photograph without their permission.
Standing too close when there is no need to/invading personal space – e.g. somebody standing/sitting unusually close to you on a bus or train service that isn’t very busy.
Some forms of sexual harassment automatically break criminal law in England and Wales, and are therefore crimes. These include:
flashing/exposure – often known as indecent exposure
any sexual harassment involving physical contact (this amounts to sexual assault in English and Welsh law)
Other forms of sexual harassment might also break criminal law, depending on the situation. For example, if someone carries out sexual harassment behaviours on more than one occasion that are intended to cause another person alarm or distress, they may be committing the crime of harassment.
No matter what the situation is, sexual harassment is never OK and it is not your fault.
Whilst not all acts of harassment are technically a crime, they’re all unacceptable and need to be stopped. When behaviour is left unchecked, it could escalate into perpetrators moving on to more extreme and dangerous types of harassment.
Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
This means that people are legally protected from sexual harassment in certain places – for example, at work, on transport and at schools, colleges and universities.
So, if sexual harassment does happen in these places, victims and survivors have the right to take action to find a solution. This could include making a complaint or making a claim in the civil courts.
Stalking is a pattern of persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered, scared, anxious or harassed. It includes persistent unwanted communication, damaging property, repeatedly following, or spying on you and threats. Read more >
3% of women have been the victim of stalking since the age of 16.
Stalking is a pattern of persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered, scared, anxious or harassed. It is a crime and can cause major disruption to someone’s life, involving them living in constant fear and distress and, sometimes even leading to physical illness.
23.3% of women have been the victim of stalking since the age of 16.
Some examples of stalking are:
Repeatedly follow or spy on you.
Constantly call you, at home or at work.
Repeatedly send you unwanted emails, letters, or gifts.
Vandalize or damage your property or repeatedly leave signs to let you know they’ve been around.
Threaten you or someone you care about.
Ask family members or friends for information about you.
Repeatedly—and inexplicably—show up wherever you are.
Taken in isolation, some of the behaviours may seem like small acts, but together they make up a consistent pattern of behaviour that is frightening and upsetting. It’s important to know that stalking is a criminal offence and because of this, if you go to the police they will take it seriously.
You can find out more about the characteristics of stalking behaviour, the law on stalking and how to get help or refer someone else here.