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Am I abusive?

As with other areas of the website, we want to answer as many of your questions as possible. To that end, please click on one of the below questions to find the information you are looking for.

What is domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic abuse is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Intimate partners could mean boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, or other sexual partner.

Family members includes step/half family (e.g. step-daughter or half-brother) and extended family (e.g. uncle, cousin, grandmother).

Domestic violence and abuse is rarely a one-off incident and is a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victim.

It occurs across the whole of society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion, class, or lifestyle and income.

Crimes committed in the name of 'honour', forced marriage and female genital mutilation are also considered acts of domestic violence and abuse

Mental / emotional abuse

Do you criticise the way your partner looks all the time? Domestic violence and

abuse often starts off small, with lots of different events that gradually chip away or erode the victim's confidence.

If you are being mentally or emotionally abusive, you might be: using language designed to humiliate; stalking; blaming; intimidating and threatening. You may also destroy the victim's personal belongings. 


You may threaten to:

  • Take children away
  • Have children taken away
  • Have your victim deported
  • Have your victim sectioned
  • Abuse your victim's children, family, friends or pets
  • Kill someone
  • Commit suicide
  • Mutilate your victim or their loved ones
  • Stalk your victim

(any of which could be in person, via phone call, email or text message)

Intimidation and Isolation

You may:

  • Repeatedly criticise your victim
  • Tell your victim that they are ugly / worthless / useless
  • Prevent your victim from having contact with family and friends
  • Humiliate your victim in front of others
  • Give your victim a curfew
  • Stop or monitor your victim's phone calls

Psychological Abuse

It is possible that you may:

  • Act jealously
  • Blame your victim for causing the abuse
  • Lie to your victim
  • Manipulate your victim to do as you want
  • Ignore your victim
  • Undermine or confuse your victim
  • Tell your victim that they are losing their mind

Financial abuse

If you are being financially abusive you may be:

  • Building debt up in your victim's name
  • Withholding money from your victim
  • Stealing money from your victim
  • Limiting or preventing your victim from having access to money
  • Not letting your victim work
  • Using family money for alcohol / drugs
  • Claiming and keeping your victim's benefits
  • Selling your victim's possessions
  • Not paying child support
  • Refusing to pay bills
  • Forcing your victim to earn money for you/ another person
  • Threatening to report to your victim to the Benefits Agency or other authorities

Sexual abuse

You may be asking your victim to do things in return for meeting their basic needs and requirements. Whether in a relationship or not, if someone does not want to have sex, they do not have to. If you are forcing someone against their will, you are being abusive.

Some forms of sexual abuse can include:

  • Rape
  • Forcing someone to engage in sexual acts
  • Degrading treatment
  • Sexual name-calling
  • Forcing someone to prostitute them self
  • Making someone wear clothes that they haven't chosen
  • Forcing someone to take part in or look at pornographic images
  • Forcing someone to have sexual relationships with other people

Sexual abuse of any form is never right.

Violence / physical abuse

You may be directing violence and physical abuse at your victim, or at their family, friends or pets.

You may be doing the following:

  • Hitting / punching / kicking / shoving
  • Spitting
  • Strangling
  • Pulling hair
  • Making angry or physical threats
  • Biting
  • Burning
  • Using weapons
  • Forcing someone to use drugs and / or alcohol
  • Depriving someone of sleep
  • Hurting a pet
  • Invading other's space 
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