relationships - dating - love - intimacy - health
The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.

This website has largely referred to victims as women and children and to perpetrators as male.
According to the latest figures 81 per cent of the victims were women and 19 per cent were men.


Facts and definitions

* What is domestic violence?
* Imagine what it's like
* Why this site refers mainly to women

Common myths
There are lots of myths and stereotypes about domestic violence. The facts are very different...
* She could just leave
* It mainly happens to poor women on council estates
* It's alcohol that causes men to be violent
* Abused women must have done something to deserve it
* Certain women attract violent men
* Abusers were abused themselves
* Violent men can't change
* Domestic violence is quite rare.
* If children don't see the violence, they won't be affected
* You shouldn't get involved in other people's rows
* Do violent song lyrics glorify domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and aggressive behaviours from one adult, usually a man, towards another, usually a woman, within the context of an intimate relationship.

* It can be physical, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse. Financial abuse and social isolation are also common features.
* The violence and abuse can be actual or threatened and can happen once every so often or on a regular basis.
* It can happen to anyone, and in all kinds of relationships - heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. People suffer domestic violence regardless of their social group, class, age, race, disability, sexuality or lifestyle. The abuse can begin at any time - in new relationships or after many years spent together.
* Children are affected by domestic violence both in the short and the long term.
* Less frequently but still wholly unacceptable, men are abused by their partners, both male and female.
* All forms of abuse - psychological, economic, emotional and physical - come from the abuser’s desire for power and control.

Imagine what it's like to live with domestic violence.
you've never experienced domestic violence it can be difficult to imagine just what those affected have to go through. We all know what a bully is.
* Imagine living with a bully all the time, but being too scared to leave.
* Imagine being afraid to go to sleep at night, being afraid to wake up in the morning.
* Imagine being denied food, warmth or sleep.
* Imagine being punched, slapped, hit, bitten, pinched and kicked.
* Imagine being pushed, shoved, burnt, strangled, raped, beaten.
* Imagine having to watch everything you do or say in case it 'upsets' the person you live with - or else you'll be punished.
* Imagine having to seek permission to go out, to see your friends or your family or to give your children a treat.
* Imagine being a prisoner in your own home - imagine being timed, when you go out to the shops.
* Imagine that you believe what he tells you - that it's your fault. That if only you were a better mother, lover, housekeeper, kept your mouth shut, could only keep the children quiet, dressed how he liked you to, kept in shape, gave up your job - somehow things would get better.
* Imagine that you don't know where to get help, what to do, or how to leave.
* Imagine that you can't face the shame of admitting what's really going on to family or friends.
* Imagine his threats if you dare to say you will leave. How could you ever find the strength to leave? Will you ever be safe again?
* Imagine threats to find and kill you and your children, wherever you go.
* Imagine permanent injuries and sometimes death.

Why does this site refer mainly to women?
This website has largely referred to victims as women and children and to perpetrators as male. According to the latest figures 81 per cent of the victims were women and 19 per cent were men.

Of course, lesbians and gay men also experience domestic violence. Men also experience domestic violence at the hands of female abusers. However, in the overwhelming majority of cases, domestic violence, especially the most dangerous and lethal violence, is committed by men towards their female partners. Also, most male victims are not harassed after they end the relationship, whereas for abused women this is the most dangerous time for them. There is a section on male victims that addresses issues which specifically affect men.

However, much of the information here will be of use to anyone who experiences domestic violence irrespective of gender or sexuality. Of all the services available to assist domestic violence victims, only refuges are exclusively for women.