Family walking together

Domestic abuse and violence

Parental conflict and domestic abuse both involve negative family dynamics, but they differ in their nature and consequences. 

Unlike parental conflict, where both people might argue, domestic abuse always involves at least one person hurting or controlling the other. 

What is domestic abuse?

Barnardo’s defines domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in most cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member who is not in an intimate relationship. 

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following: 

  • Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence) 

  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse 

  • Physical or Sexual Abuse  

  • Financial abuse 

  • Harassment and Stalking  

  • Online or Digital Abuse 

What to know about domestic abuse 

It’s never okay to hurt or control another person, in any way. 

Domestic Abuse harms survivors, children and young people.  It can affect them:  

  • Physically 

  • Mentally  

  • Socially  

  • Financially  

  • Generally with health and well-being. 

  • Barnardo’s provide more information about the impact of Children affected by domestic abuse. 

It's important to understand that each domestic abuse situation may appear different and can occur  in any relationship, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.  It can persist even after the relationship has ended. 

Domestic abuse can occur: 

  • both inside and outside the home. 

  • through online platforms 

  • over the phone 

  • on social media sites. 

Getting help and support

Everyone has arguments and disagreements with their partners, family members and others close to them from time to time. We all do things at times we regret which can cause unhappiness to those we care about. But if this begins to form a consistent pattern, then it is an indication of domestic abuse. 

  • Have they stopped you from going to college or work? 

  • Do they constantly call, text or follow you? 

  • Do they accuse you of flirting or cheating? 

  • Do they constantly put you down, criticise or call you names? 

  • Are you ever afraid of them? 

  • Have they ever deliberately destroyed any of your things? 

  • Have they ever hurt or threatened you, your children or pets? 

  • Have they ever forced you to do something that you really did not want to do? 

  • Have they ever tried to stop you from taking medicine or getting medical help? 

  • Have they said you will be deported or lose your children? 

  • Have they ever forced you to have sex with them or others? 

  • Have they ever tried to stop you from leaving the house? 

  • Do they blame their use of alcohol/drugs, mental health condition or family history for their behaviour? 

  • Are you or have you been forced into marriage? 

If you answered yes to one or more of the questions, you may be experiencing domestic abuse.   

If you are worried that your relationship might involve domestic abuse, it's important to get help. You do not have to go through this alone. There are people and organisations ready to support you and your children. They can help you stay safe and figure out what to do next. 

GOV.UK provides lots of information on how to get help and find domestic abuse specialist support services 

The NHS provides more information on getting help for domestic violence and abuse 

Refuge - National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (free confidential advice 24 hrs a day) or visit 

Women's Aid- 

Men's Advice Line- 0808 801 0327 or 

Childline provides information and support for children and young people through calling 0800 1111 or visiting 

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you cannot speak and are calling on a mobile, you can press 55 to have your call transferred to the police. Find out how to call the police when you can’t speak