Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is when a grown-up threatens, bullies or hurts another adult in the family. Sometimes it's called domestic violence. And it can happen in any family. It can be very hard to deal with but remember that it's never your fault.

What is domestic abuse?

It might not always be obvious if what's happening at home is domestic abuse. But if somebody in your family uses bullying or violence to get another adult to do what they want, that's domestic abuse.

It can include:

  • Physical violence
    Like hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, hair-pulling.
  • Threats
    This includes threatening to hurt you, another person in your family, or a pet. Or threatening to stop money for food or bills.
  • Sexual violence
    Making another person do something sexual when they don't want to, or making someone watch sexual material on the internet or television.
  • Controlling someone's finances
    This includes not allowing somebody to spend their own money. Or not giving them money for basic things such as food, nappies for babies, or clothes.
  • Controlling someone's life
    This could include stopping someone from going to work or school.
  • Cultural or 'honour' violence
    This includes being hurt or abused as a punishment for something that's not seen as culturally acceptable by your community or family. It can include being forced to marry someone.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend is under 16 and is being abusive, this is relationship abuse

Things you should remember:

  • nobody should have to experience domestic abuse in their home 
  • if it’s happening, it’s not your fault
  • domestic abuse doesn’t always involve physical violence – it can also include bullying and threats
  • you can always speak to a counsellor about what's going on
  • if you’re in danger call 999.

Coping if you feel unsafe at home

If you’re being abused or made to feel unsafe at home, the schools closing and being told you can’t go out can have a big effect on you.

You might be worried about not getting support when you need it, or things getting worse. Your safety is more important than anything.

There are important things you can do when you’re feeling unsafe:

why don't they leave?

Abuse often gets worse over time. By the time somebody decides they no longer want to be in a relationship, it can be very difficult to get out. They might stay because they:

  • are too scared to leave
  • don't have money or anywhere else to go
  • worry about taking their children out of school and moving them
  • no longer have the strength to leave
  • hope that the abuse will stop.

Whatever the reason, it's not your fault and it's important that you get support.

how it can affect your family

Even if the abuse 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 abuse is going on, it can be extremely upsetting.

It's wrong if you're made to see or hear domestic abuse between adults that look after you.

You might also have been hurt or bullied. And you might be worried about your own safety. Talking about how you feel can really help you to cope.

We're here for you whenever you need to talk.

making a safety plan

If you're experiencing domestic abuse, it's really important to have a safe place that you can go to. And remember, if you or anyone else is ever in danger you should call 999.

  1. Make a plan ahead of time
    And keep it somewhere safe.
  2. Find a safe place
    If you have to stay at home, think about where you feel safe.
  3. Keep a contact number
    Write down the name and contact number of someone you trust if you need someone to call.
  4. Get support
    Go through your plan with a counsellor. We'll support you to find a way to stop the abuse. Or you can contact Victim Support.
  5. Call 999
    In an emergency call 999.

getting support

The most important thing you can do is to keep yourself safe. Domestic abuse isn't your fault. And it's not down to you to stop the fighting, violence or abuse. Trying to stop it could put you in danger.

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's happening or how scary it is.

Talk to a trusted adult about what's happening. This can really help. If you're worried for your own safety, it's important to talk to somebody as soon as you can.

You can also get support for domestic abuse from The Hide Out.