Domestic violence is physical, sexual, and psychological (emotional) or financial violence, or abuse, that takes place within an intimate, or family, relationship.

Some of these types of behaviour are obvious, such as physical violence e.g. hitting and punching. Or sexual abuse, including marital rape.

These are examples that most people are familiar with. But there are other, more subtle forms of abuse – and sometimes, we don’t even recognise the signs as abuse.

The definition of domestic violence includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Just because you’re not being hit, it does not mean it’s not abuse.

Just because it’s not your partner, it doesn’t mean it’s not domestic abuse.

You can’t be too old, or too young, to be in an abusive relationship.

Not all abusers are men.

Domestic abuse - different types - Woman's Trust

Sometimes a partner, or a close relative, such as a brother, uncle or son can behave in a way that makes you feel frightened, depressed or bad about yourself.

There are many different ways people can do this; and some may seem more serious or alarming than others.

Even if it feels like something small – if you think it’s wrong or it makes you feel scared or low, it’s important not to ignore it.

The behaviour could be part of a larger problem, or lead to more serious abuse.

Signs of domestic abuse

Has someone close to you:

  • threatened or humiliated you, perhaps in front of other people
  • damaged your belongings or property
  • controlled what you do
  • controlled how you use, or have access to, money
  • followed or visited you without your permission
  • been putting you down constantly, criticising you
  • blamed their culture, religion or personal problems as an excuse for their behaviour towards you
  • pushed, bullied, slapped, kicked, punched or seriously hurt you
  • forced you to have sex when you don’t want to
  • forced you to make decisions you don’t agree with (personal, physical, financial, legal, or perhaps about a family member)
  • threatened you and made you fear for your own safety
Domestic abuse - warning signs - Woman's Trust
Domestic abuse - symptoms - support Woman's Trust

Do you ever feel

  • frightened by your partner/family member
  • physically hurt or emotionally drained because of someone else’s actions
  • lonely and isolated
  • depressed
  • suicidal
  • ashamed or guilty
  • like you have no self-confidence
  • that there’s no way out of your relationship
  • you deserve what’s happening to you
  • worried about how your children will be affected by your situation

You can read more about domestic abuse and mental health in this Guide for Survivors Domestic Abuse and mental health

No one deserves to be raped, abused, or made to feel worthless.


If you recognise any of these signs, help is out there. You are not alone.