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Is my friend being abused?

Is my friend, family member or neighbour being abused?

Do not put yourself at risk.  If you feel someone is in immediate danger, dial 999.

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 specific information around different types of abuse.

Please think carefully as to why you think your friend, family member or neighbour is being abused, or why they may be an abuser.

It is an all too common myth that domestic violence and abuse only occurs between a husband and wife. Domestic violence and abuse can occur between partners of the same sex, between family members, or between partners in a current relationship, or one that has ended.

Sadly, it is also a myth that domestic abuse is just about violence. It isn't. Your friend / family member can be experiencing domestic abuse if their partner doesn't allow them to control their finances, stops them from seeing their family, controls their access to information, or even what they wear. Domestic violence and abuse is, in many ways, all about control.

"Research shows us that (domestic abuse) is about "control" and it may start with emotional abuse, but it can soon escalate. As the victims confidence becomes lower the abuse becomes worse until the victim can not see a way out - and that's what the abuser wants. But there is a way out, in fact there are many ways out and it starts by just being able to talk to someone." Warwickshire Police

Not all forms of domestic abuse are crimes, but they will still affect your friend's quality of life. By addressing domestic abuse at an early stage, it is far easier for them to recover.

This website aims to give you and your friend as much information as possible to help them take control of their situation. The first step will need to be their choice, when they are ready.

Remember - if anyone is abusing your friend's children - it is serious, and you / they have a duty to protect them from harm.

Below are standard definitions of domestic violence and abuse to help you understand what they may be experiencing.

What is domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have ever 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 abuse.

Mental / emotional abuse

Does your friend's partner criticise the way they look all the time? Domestic violence and abuse often starts off small, with lots of different events that gradually chip away or erode people's confidence.

If your friend is being mentally or emotionally abused, they might be on the receiving end of language designed to humiliate, stalking, blaming, intimidation and threaten. Your friend may also experience the destruction of personal belongings.  


Your friend may receive tthreats:

  • To take children away
  • To have children taken away
  • To have them deported
  • To have them sectioned
  • To abuse their children, family, friends or pets
  • To kill
  • To commit suicide
  • To mutilate them or their loved ones
  • To stalk them

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

Intimidation and Isolation

Your friend may experience:

  • Repeated criticism
  • Telling them that they are ugly / worthless / useless
  • Preventing contact with family and friends
  • Humiliating them in front of others
  • Giving them a curfew
  • Stopping or monitoring phone calls

Psychological Abuse

It is possible that your friend may be on the receiving end of:

  • Jealousy
  • Blame for the abuse
  • Lying

Your friend's partner may:

  • Manipulate them
  • Ignore them
  • Undermine or confuse them
  • Tell them that they are losing their mind

If your friend is experiencing mental / emotional abuse, they may want to talk to someone.

Financial abuse

If your friend is experiencing financial abuse they may experience their partner / family member:

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

If your friend / family member is experiencing financial abuse, they may want to talk to someone.

Sexual abuse

Your friend's partner may ask them to do things in return for their basic needs and requirements. In a relationship, if someone does not want to have sex, they do not have to. If they are forced, they are being abused.

Some forms of sexual abuse can include:

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

Sexual abuse of any form is never right. If your friend / family member has been sexually abused - you may want to get more information here.

Violence / physical abuse

Violence and physical abuse can be directed at your friend, or at family, friends or pets.

Your friend / family member may experience their partner / family member:

  • Hitting / punching / kicking / shoving them
  • Spitting at or on them
  • Strangling them
  • Pulling their hair
  • Making angry or physical threats towards them
  • Biting them
  • Burning them
  • Using weapons on them
  • Forcing them to use drugs and / or alcohol
  • Depriving them of sleep
  • Hurting their pet
  • Invading their space 

If your friend / family member is experiencing physical abuse, they may want to talk to someone.

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