Domestic abuse

Many people have heard the term ‘domestic abuse’ or ‘domestic violence’. The prevalent stereotype is that ‘domestic abuse’ (DA) refers to physical violence, such as punching or slapping; and that it typically occurs within a heterosexual marriage, with the man being the perpetrator. However, sadly, DA occurs within families from all racial backgrounds, all sexual orientations, and all sections of the community. It’s important to recognise the pervasiveness of DA across demographics, in order to raise awareness of the support which is available for victims.

Young people are some of the worst affected by DA. Most recent statistics show that:

  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
  • 57% of college students say it is difficult to identify and 58% say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.

This last statistic is particularly concerning; it suggests that nationally, we are failing to provide the support and resources needed for young people to be able to recognise danger or seek help when they need it. Domestic abuse charities – such as Women’s Aid, Harbour, and Refuge, are campaigning to increase awareness of all types of domestic abuse.

It is important to recognise that not all abuse is of a physical nature; emotional abuse is equally prevalent. Emotional and psychological abuse can include behaviours such as: stalking, limiting a victim’s contact with friends and family, preventing access to finances, making threats, and using emotional blackmail. These tactics are usually used by abusers to control the victim’s behaviour and take away their personal freedoms. Even if the abuser never lays a hand on the victim, they may be controlling their day to day life through threats and fear, and this is equally abuse as physical violence.

If any young person were to suspect that themselves, or a friend, were in a situation of domestic abuse; they could contact any of the following organisations for confidential advice and support:

Always call 999 in an emergency.


Angie Kirkham - Former DWP

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