Introduction

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If you are afraid for your safety, dial 999. You will be taken seriously even if the abuse is not physical.

Domestic violence can affect anyone. Whatever your gender, gender identity, age or ethnicity, whether you are in a different gender or same gender relationship, or whether you have a disability or not, you may be at risk of abuse from a partner or of becoming abusive yourself. If someone has been an abuser in the past, they can become a victim themselves. You can also experience domestic abuse from a partner, or ex-partner you do not live with.

If you need help call 0808 80 10 800, the free 24 hour Live Fear Free Helpline.

Almost a third of domestic violence and abuse starts during pregnancy. If it starts before pregnancy, it can get worse over the nine months.

There are helpful organisations that will support you if you feel that you are being abused, and there is also support for you if you feel that you may be abusive.

It is important to understand that in the society we live in, the most visible abuse is male on female, but this is not always the case. Men can be victims and members of the LGBT community are especially likely to experience abuse. This can occur in same gender relationships, different gender relationships and also from family members.

Here are some links to organisations for people who don’t have time to read ahead:

If you are unable to contact any of the organisations for victims of domestic abuse, speak to any health professional - your GP, a doctor or nurse in a hospital, or anyone professional you come into contact with (e.g. a police officer, a teacher at your child’s school or your school if you are a young person). They have a duty to help you.

If you are being abused, you are not alone. More than a quarter of women and nearly a sixth of men have experienced domestic violence. This includes people in same gender relationships. One in four lesbian and bisexual women have experienced domestic violence, and more than a third of gay and bisexual men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse in a relationship with a man.

What are the issues?

Welsh Women’s Aid have information about how to spot abuse in your own relationship or if you are worried about a friend or family member. Here is a quick checklist that may help you, but for more information go to the Welsh Women’s Aid website.

 What is Abuse?

The list of behaviours that are abusive includes physical and sexual assault, financial control, emotional abuse, threats, harassment, stalking and controlling behaviour/coercion.

If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.

  • Has your partner tried to keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • Has your partner prevented you from continuing or starting a college course, or from going to work?
  • Does your partner constantly check up on you or follow you?
  • Does your partner accuse you unjustly of flirting or of having affairs?
  • Does your partner constantly belittle or humiliate you, or regularly criticise or insult you in front of other people?
  • Are you ever scared of your partner?
  • Have you ever changed your behaviour because you're afraid of what your partner might do or say to you?
  • Has your partner ever deliberately destroyed any of your possessions?
  • Has your partner ever hurt or threatened you or your children?
  • Has your partner ever kept you short of money so you're unable to buy food and other necessary items for yourself and your children?
  • Has your partner ever forced you to do something that you really didn't want to do, including sexually?

Even if your partner has not physically assaulted you, it is abuse if you are controlled by them to the point of being afraid of doing the wrong thing.

What abuse is not

It is not realistic to believe that a relationship will always be happy. When a person expresses their anger in ways that hurt another person, the relationship is at risk of becoming abusive. Arguing between equals, ‘calling out’, displays of anger that do not personally attack others are all examples of healthy non-abusive relationship behaviour.

 If someone accuses you of being abusive every time you disagree with something they have said or done, this in itself is a form of controlling behaviour.

Rape and Sexual assault

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can get help. Follow this link for advice [link to rape and sexual assault page]. It is illegal for anyone, including your partner, to force you into sexual activity.

Is my partner abusive?

If you recognise your own relationship in the list of behaviours above, it is important that you seek help from one of the organisations listed. If you are afraid for your safety, dial 999. You will be taken seriously even if the abuse is not physical.

Experiencing abuse from a partner is traumatic. Do not underestimate how long it will take you to recover from the abuse. The psychological impact may last for a long time after any physical or financial problems have been resolved. Your mental health may be affected. Go to your GP and explain the situation.

You may blame yourself. Remember, abuse is never the victim’s fault. Often a perpetrator will blame the victim for bringing it on themselves.

There are organisations that can help you in the initial stages after leaving your abusive partner. You may not have to leave your home. The police can help you to stay in your home and prevent your abuser from returning to the home.

There is also ongoing support for survivors of domestic abuse. You are not alone. Everyone’s experience is different, but there are survivor groups of people who have had similar experiences and can empathise. Follow the links in the resources list below.

If you have children, there are specialist groups that can support them. Children who have witnessed domestic abuse can experience trauma even if they have not been abused themselves. Children who have witnessed the after effects of domestic abuse can experience trauma even if they did not witness the abuse. Children may not display signs of trauma until they feel safe. Be aware of signs of stress and go to your GP if you are at all worried. When you do so, explain to the GP what happened so that they can understand where the stress may have come from.

Am I abusive?

Are you hurting someone you love? It can be very difficult to tell whether you are abusive yourself.

If you recognise your own behaviour in the list of abusive behaviours above, it is important that you seek help.

Recognising that your behaviour is wrong is the first step to stopping it. But you may need help to stop.

Sometimes the things that cause abusive behaviour, such as feelings about things that happened in the past, can be very powerful. We can’t always stop things on our own, or straight away. We do need help, which is why it’s important to talk to someone.

One way that you can find out whether your own behaviour is a problem is to seek help from a professional. Discuss your behaviour openly, describe what happens when your partner accuses you of abuse. Be as open as you can to the thought that you may have done something abusive. If your partner does not want a reconciliation, accept that and move on. Acknowledging that you have been abusive may not mean that you can save this relationship but it will help you in the future to prevent it from happening again.

Respect supports people who have been abusive. They run behaviour change programmes and also have a helpline. The Respect Phoneline is available on freephone 0808 802 4040, open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.

My child/friend/family member is in an abusive relationship, what can I do?

It is very difficult to stand by and watch abuse taking place without trying to intervene, especially if it is happening to a young person. If you have spoken to the victim about your concerns and they still want to continue in the relationship, you may feel that you have to do something to stop them from seeing the abuser. Be careful not to become controlling yourself.

You may feel mixed loyalties if your family member is an abuser. You may worry about taking sides. Respect offer an advice leaflet for concerned friends and family members.

If the person is under 18, you may want to encourage them to phone Childline (0800 11 11) or visit their website.

If your child/friend/family member is an adult, you may need to take a step back to allow them to make their own decision. You can be supportive and ensure that they know you’re there for them when needed, but without being judgemental. Do not buy into the myth that victims bring it on themselves. Make sure they are not isolated and that they know their rights. Offer them resources, but be aware that they may not want printouts left in their home for an abusive partner to see.

Resources

The Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline is the national free support and information service for women, children and men in Wales who are experiencing or who have experienced abuse and / or violence at the hands of someone close to them.  Freephone 0808 80 10 800 in confidence, open 24 hours.

Welsh Women’s Aid (WWA) is the national umbrella organisation representing local Women’s Aid groups across Wales. Member groups provide direct services for women and their children who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse. Details of local Women’s Aid groups can be found by contacting WWA or visiting their website, or by phoning the Live Fear Free Helpline 0808 8010 800 (24hrs)

The Men's Advice Line is a national helpline that provides emotional support, advice and sign-posting to any man, irrespective of sexuality who is experiencing domestic violence and/or abuse.  National Helpline Number 0808 801 0327 open 10.00am - 1.00pm and 2.00pm - 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

The Dyn Project (Safer Wales) helpline provides free confidential support to men who experience domestic abuse in Wales, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. The Dyn Project can provide information on services available in your area, help in developing a personalised safety plan, support in accessing other services & organisations and someone to listen without judging. National Helpline Number 0808 801 0321 open Monday and Tuesday 10.00am - 4.00pm, Wednesday 10.00am - 1.00pm.

BAWSO  is a Women's Aid Information and Advice Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic women who have experienced domestic violence. Their confidential service offers a 24 hour helpline, 0800 731 8147. They also provide secure accommodation to Black & Ethnic Minority women and children in Wales who are at risk of or have suffered domestic abuse.

ManKind is a national charity providing help and support for male victims of domestic abuse or domestic violence. The helpline is staffed by trained people who give information and support on all aspects of domestic abuse including reporting incidents, police procedures, housing and injunctions. They refer people to places of refuge, local authorities and other support services where appropriate. National Helpline Number 01823 334244 open 10.00am - 4.00pm and 7.00pm - 9.00pm Monday to Friday.

National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428 Emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse.

Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre freephone helpline: 0808 802 9999 - The helpline is open 12.00pm-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year, providing support for female and male survivors, partners, family and friends.

Survivors UK provide information, support and counselling for men who have been raped or sexually abused. National Helpline Number 0845 122 1201 open Monday and Tuesday 7.00pm - 9.30pm and Thursday 12.00pm - 2.30pm.

For forced marriage and “honour” crimes, contact Karma Nirvana on 0800 5999 247  or The Forced Marriage Unit on 0207 008 0151.

Childline  is a free, 24 hour phone helpline and online services chat/email via website for children and young people up to 18 yrs. National Helpline Number 0800 11 11 available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  SMS Texting Service: Text 1 of 7 key words to 78101.

Respect supports people who have been abusive.  They run behaviour change programmes and also have a helpline. The Respect Phoneline is available on freephone 0808 802 4040, open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS Choices.
Last Updated: 02/03/2017 09:37:32