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Domestic violence

Domestic violence is when a grown up threatens, bullies, or hurts another adult in the family. Sometimes it’s called domestic abuse. It can happen between parents, married couples, girlfriends and boyfriends, in gay or lesbian relationships, or after a couple has split up. Domestic violence can happen to anybody.

Domestic violence

How does domestic violence affect you?

Even if the violence at home isn't aimed at you, it doesn't mean you don't get hurt too. If you’re in the same or next room when the violence is going on this can be extremely upsetting. Seeing or hearing domestic violence between adults that look after you is wrong.

You might also have been hurt or bullied as part of the domestic violence and feel worried about your own safety.

Talking about how you feel can really help you to cope. ChildLine is always here for you whenever you need to talk.


What can I do to make it stop?

The most important thing you can do is to keep yourself safe. Domestic violence isn’t your fault, and it’s not down to you to stop the fighting, violence or abuse. Don’t try to step in to stop violence or abuse - this could put you in danger.

The most helpful thing you can do is to talk to a trusted adult about what is happening. If you are worried for your own safety it is important that you talk to somebody as soon as you can. ChildLine is a safe space for you to talk about how you feel and to think about safety plans. We will support you to find a way to stop the abuse.

If you feel it’s safe, tell your parents how you feel about what's happening at home. They may not realise that you know what is happening or how scary it is.

  • What steps can I take to keep safe?

    Find out more about what domestic violence is. This can help you to recognise when it’s happening and understand that you don’t have to put up with it.

    Think about making a safety plan so you know what to do in an emergency. Have a safe place that you can go to and remember if you or anyone else is ever in danger you can always call 999. You can find out more about making a safety plan on The Hide Out.

  • Is what's happening at home domestic violence?

    If somebody in your family uses bullying or violence to get another adult to do what they want this is domestic violence. Domestic violence is a way of trying to control other people’s behaviour, it might include:

    - Violence – hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, hair pulling.
    - Threats – threatening to hurt you, another person in your family, or a pet. Threatening to stop money for food or bills.
    - Sexual - making another person take part in sexual activity when they don’t want to, or making someone watch sexual material on the internet or television.
    - Financial – not allowing somebody to spend their own money or not giving them money for basic things such as food, nappies for babies, or clothes.
    - Stopping someone from going to work.
    - Cultural or honor violence - being hurt or abused as a punishment for something that is not seen as culturally acceptable by your community or family. Being forced to marry someone or demanding bigger dowries.

  • Is it my fault?

    If you’ve seen domestic violence at home or have been hurt or bullied by your boyfriend or girlfriend – it is never your fault. You and your family don’t have to put up with it. You have the right to feel safe in your own home.

  • Why don't people being abused just leave?

    Abuse often gets worse over time and by the time somebody decides they no longer want to be in a relationship it can be very difficult to get out. Some reasons people stay are:

    - they’re too scared to leave.
    - they don’t have money or anywhere else to go.
    - they’re worried about taking their children out of school and moving them
    - they no longer have the strength to leave.
    - they may hope that the abuse will stop.

  • Is my relationship with my girlfriend or boyfriend abusive?

    It is unusual for a relationship to be violent straight away, although this can sometimes happen. Usually it starts with jealousy, constant checking up on what you’re doing or bullying. Your partner might complain about the clothes you wear or they might not want you to hang out with your friends anymore. They might want to be with you all of the time and get moody or angry if you say you want to be with your friends.

    Many people find that they slowly become more distant from friends and even family. When this happens friends sometimes feel that you want to be with your partner instead of them. They won’t know that you feel like you don’t have a choice and might feel hurt, confused or angry. If you think that your relationship might be abusive think about how your partner reacts to the things you do.

    - Do they try and stop you from spending time with other people – friends or family?
    - Do they get angry with you if things aren’t going the way they want them to?
    - Do they say unkind things about your friends or family?
    - Are you afraid to say ‘no’ to them?
    - Does your partner go through your phone or complain if someone texts or calls you?
    - Do you feel pressured into having sex with them?
    - Do they ask you to have sex with their friends?
    - Do they ever hit, push, shove or kick you (physical violence)?
    - Do they call you names, or say you’re too fat, too thin?
    - Do they make you feel that you are not good enough?
    - Do you feel that your partner checks up on you all the time?

    If you answered yes to any of the questions you might be in an abusive relationship. Sometimes we make excuses for our partners because we love them – maybe they are stressed because of exams or maybe they are having a difficult time at home. We might even think that we did something to deserve it. Whatever the excuses we come up with abuse is wrong and must stop. ChildLine is always here for you, you can talk to us if you're worried you might be in an abusive relationship.

  • I'm being pressured into having sex what should I do?

    Having sex is a big decision. If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to have sex with someone, then you shouldn’t feel like you have to do it. Your boyfriend or girlfriend should care about you enough not to pressure you or make you do something you’re not happy about. There can be a lot of pressure from other people to have sex and it might seem everyone else is doing it or talking about it. This shouldn’t be the reason that you start having sex – you should do it because you want to. Remember most under 16s aren't having sex - studies show that most people wait until they're at least 16 to have sex. If you need to talk about sex you can call ChildLine.

  • What is a healthy relationship?

    A healthy relationship has love and trust - you can be yourself and talk about how you feel and what you want. Even when you don’t agree or argue you try to understand each other’s views and decisions and find a way to work things out. Both of you will compromise and respect each others opinions. Being in a relationship should be something that makes you happy. When you are in a good relationship, you feel comfortable and not under pressure to impress or do anything you don’t want to do. You can talk to your friends when you want to and spend time with them without feeling you might get into trouble.

Other sites that can help

Are you living with domestic abuse? Get more support and advice at The Hideout.
The Hideout

Advice from Refuge aimed at teenage girls dealing with domestic violence.
Help for teenage girls from Refuge

Learn more about how to spot the signs of abusive behaviour in a relationship.
This Is Abuse

Advice from Victim Support for young people affected by domestic violence.
Victim Support

Call ChildLine

You can call ChildLine at any time on 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor. Calls are free and confidential.

Call ChildLine

Violence at home?

Have seen or experienced domestic violence at your home? Get support from the ChildLine community on the message boards.

Abuse and safety message board

How did this help?

How did this information about domestic violence help you?

Domestic violence 


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