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Domestic Abuse

The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) provides the first statutory definition of domestic abuse between people who are ‘personally connected’ and aged over 16 years.   The Act defines abusive behaviour as physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, or psychological, emotional or other abuse.  It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or course of conduct.  

For the first time children are legally recognised as victims if they see, hear, or experience the effects of the abuse.  

Domestic Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age or culture.  Domestic Abuse can exist in any in any relationship – with partners, ex-partners or relatives.  

Domestic abuse takes many forms and includes, but is not limited to:

  • Physical Abuse
    Assault, punching, kicking, hitting, forced imprisonment, biting, strangling, burning, dragging, using weapons, throwing objects.
  • Sexual Abuse 
    Rape, sexual assault, forced prostitution, degradation, using objects, forced to watch or act in pornography.
  • Psychological Abuse
    Verbal or emotional abuse, threats to kill, blaming, mind games, criticism, accusations, jealousy and obsessive behaviours, manipulation, sleep deprivation.
  • Financial Abuse
    Preventing a person from getting or keeping a job, taking money, not permitting access to or withholding family income, keeping account of all money spent, the perpetrator deliberately running up debts (often in the victim’s name) or not paying the rent.
  • Isolation/Coercive Control
    Not being allowed to see others, to see who you want, denied any form of contact with family or friends and any other support networks, not being allowed to learn the language, not being allowed to attend appointments (even medical appointments) alone.

The police have specialist domestic abuse officers trained to help you and put you in touch with other agencies who can help you with safety planning, housing issues, drug or alcohol problems or give details of solicitors who specialise in any legal family matters.

If you are in an abusive relationship, or you know someone who is, advice and support is available:

The Police – 999 (always call the police if the situation is an emergency)

Hillingdon Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) – 020 8246 1745

Children who witness, intervene, or hear incidents of domestic abuse are affected in many ways, even after a short time.

Short-term effects:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Feeling frightened
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Bed wetting
  • Running away
  • Aggressiveness or behavioural difficulties
  • Problems with school, poor concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping, emotional turmoil
  • Eating disorders or alcohol or drug misuse      

Long-term effects:

  • Lack of respect for the parent
  • Loss of self confidence
  • An inability to trust and form relationships
  • Becoming over protective or feeling responsible for the parent
  • Feeling a ‘loss of childhood’
  • Problems at school, low education attainment
  • Running away         

Domestic abuse is never acceptable. It is a crime. It causes significant harm to children. You can read more about the impact on children on the NSPCC website.