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Recognising domestic abuse

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Recognising domestic abuse

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  • The ‘exit site’ button will open the Google search page. You will still need to delete your viewing history. It may be safer to go online at work, in a library or at the home of a trusted friend or relative.
  • Call the police on 999 if you need immediate help. If you are not at risk of harm right now, you can call the police on 101 to discuss your situation.
  • Camden Safety Net is Camden’s domestic abuse service. Contact the Camden Safety Net duty worker on 020 7974 2526, or email [email protected]. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
  • If it is not safe for you to stay in Camden, you can approach any council for support.

The facts about domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can be a single incident or pattern of behaviour between current or previous partners or family members. The abuser has power and control over the victim. In some cases, victims are not even aware.

Domestic abuse is very common and can happen to people of any race, age, sexuality, ability, religion, gender or class. Statistically, most domestic abuse is carried out by men and experienced by women. People with disabilities or people who identify as LGBTQIA+ are also at greater risk.  

It's important to remember that domestic abuse is a crime under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. If you are a victim, it is not your fault. There is independent and confidential support available.

Types of abuse

Domestic abuse does not always include violence. It can also include other patterns of behaviour.

Coercive control 

Coercive control is when someone you are close to repeatedly behaves in a way that makes you feel controlled, dependent, isolated, or scared. This can include:

  • Isolating you from your family and friends
  • telling you what to wear, who to see, where to go and what to think
  • putting you down
  • threats to harm you if you leave, or threatening to harm themselves
  • blaming you for the abuse or arguments, telling you that you overreact
  • threatening to take your children away from you
  • making threats about your immigration status or trying to send you out of the country
  • using mind games such as denying or downplaying abuse and saying it's you that has the problem
  • making unreasonable demands for your attention
  • getting angry or offended quickly and easily
  • monitoring your social media profiles
  • sharing photos or videos of you without your consent
  • using GPS locators to know where you are
  • controlling your money, or not giving you enough to buy food or other essential things

Coercive control is a crime under Section 76 Serious Crime Act 2015 (SCA 2015).

Women’s Aid has more information on coercive control.

Emotional and psychological abuse

Psychological abuse is causing fear by

Gaslighting is also a form of emotional abuse. It involves manipulating you to make you doubt your own sanity. This may include statements like:

  • “That's not what happened.”
  • “I never said that.”
  • “It was just a joke, stop being so sensitive.”
  • “If you loved me, you wouldn't be saying this.”
  • “I'm the only person who stands by you.

Sexual abuse 

Sexual abuse is any sexual activity that happens without your full and informed consent. Sex should not make you feel uncomfortable or humiliated. 

Sexual abuse is a crime under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. You should report this to the Metropolitan Police.

The NHS website has advice if you have been sexually assaulted.   

Find your nearest rape and sexual assault referral centre.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is when you do not have full control of your own money. It is an example of coercive control.

Examples of financial abuse include when someone:

  • controls all the household income and keeps financial information a secret 
  • takes out debts in your name, sometimes without you knowing  
  • stops you from working, or taking part in education or training 
  • has all finances in their name only
  • monitor your bank account without your consent

Find out more about financial abuse.

Physical abuse 

Physical abuse can be violent behaviours such as:

  • hitting
  • punching
  • strangulation
  • shoving
  • biting
  • throwing things
  • kicking

It can also include the threat of physical violence, or intimidation through breaking things in the home to scare you.  

Forced marriage 

A forced marriage is one in which one or both people do not, or cannot, consent to the marriage, but are coerced into it by their families or community.

Contact the Forced Marriage Unit if you are trying to stop a forced marriage or need help leaving a marriage you've been forced into.

Honour-based abuse

Honour-based abuse is a crime or incident which has, or may have been, committed to protect or defend the honour of the family or community. This includes:

  • child marriage
  • virginity testing
  • enforced abortion
  • forced marriage
  • female genital mutilation
  • physical, sexual and economic abuse
  • coercive control

Karma Nirvana is a specialist charity for victims and survivors of Honour Based Abuse in the UK. Visit the site for more information about honour-based violence.

Female genital mutilation 

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is when female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, without a medical reason for this to be done.

Find out about FGM support clinics or call the NSPCC if you are worried about a child and FGM.


The four warning signs for stalking are if behaviour is:

  • fixated
  • obsessive
  • unwanted
  • repeated

Contact the National Stalking Helpline

Tech abuse 

Tech abuse is where technology is used to control, harass or intimidate you. It can include hacking your phone, cyberstalking, using social media or cameras to try to harm or control you or your children.