The Government defines domestic violence as
“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.”
This includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so called ‘honour based violence’, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.
An adult is defined as any person aged 18 years or over. Family members are defined as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in laws or stepfamily.
Whatever form it takes, domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident, and should instead be seen as a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victim. Typically the abuse involves a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour, which tends to get worse over time. The abuse can begin at any time, in the first year, or after many years of life together. It may begin, continue, or escalate after a couple have separated and may take place not only in the home but also in a public place.
Domestic abuse occurs across society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth, and geography. The figures show, however, that it consists mainly of violence by men against women. Children are also affected, both directly and indirectly and there is also a strong correlation between domestic violence and child abuse suggesting overlap rates of between 40-60%.
Are abusers are in control of themselves when they abuse?
Despite what many people believe, domestic abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his behaviour. Domestic abuse is a deliberate choice made by the abuser.
In the majority of cases the following can be said to be true of his behaviour;
- He is not violent with other people i.e. his boss
- He is able to stop and compose himself if the police arrive or the doorbell rings
- If he uses physical violence he is able to choose where to cause visible injuries – often in places where others cannot see them
- He damages the victims possessions but rarely his own