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Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship

Summary of domestic abuseGetting in touch

Summary of domestic abuse

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 created a legal definition of domestic abuse. In summary, domestic abuse is where:

  1. both the person who is carrying out the behaviour and the person to whom the behaviour is directed towards are aged 16 years or over
  2. both persons are “personally connected” (including ex-partners and family members)

You do not have to be living with the person who is being abusive to you.

Children who see, hear or experiences the effects of domestic abuse and are related to the person who is being abused, or the person causing harm, are now legally considered as victims in their own right. It does not matter whether the child is present during a violent incident or not, as the effects of an abusive relationship will be experienced anyway, for instance through the tone and words used and actions.

There are many types of behaviours that can form domestic abuse, these may include:

  • Physical harm
  • Sexual abuse
  • Violent or threatening behaviour
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour
  • Economic abuse
  • Psychological or emotional
  • Stalking and harassment

Abuse can occur in many ways, including face-to-face, in writing or online.

Getting in touch

If you are concerned for yourself or someone else, our local, confidential helpline will advise anyone seeking help with domestic abuse. This includes relatives, friends and work colleagues as well as those who are causing harm.

Speak to us on 0800 69 49 999. Our phone line is available 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.


In an emergency, you should always dial 999. If you are worried that an abuser may overhear your call you can remain silent, tap the phone and dial 55 when prompted by the operator who will send help.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired you can register with You will then be able to send a text to 999 if you require help in an emergency.

Last reviewed: September 14, 2023 by Sophie

Next review due: March 14, 2024

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