What is domestic violence?

Information in Irish sign language

Domestic violence is where one person tries to control and assert power over their partner in an intimate relationship. It can be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse. In the majority of cases it is perpetrated by men and experienced by women. Any woman can be affected and it can happen in any home. There may be warning signs that your relationship is abusive.

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is perhaps the most recognisable form of abuse. It can result in physical injury, and in some cases it can be life threatening. It doesn't always leave visible marks or scars. Having your hair pulled or an egg thrown at you is domestic violence too. Don't underestimate what is happening to you. Over time it often gets worse.

It includes:

  • being pushed
  • being punched and slapped.
  • being beaten with sticks, golf clubs, hurley sticks, hammers and belts.
  • being stabbed with knives or broken glass.
  • being gagged to stop the screams during physical assaults.
  • being spat and urinated on.
  • being bitten severely, being pulled by the hair.
  • being beaten and raped while pregnant, being thrown down the stairs while pregnant.
  • having your head banged off walls and car dashboards.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is a highly effective means of establishing a power imbalance within a relationship. It is often unseen or intangible to those outside the relationship. Emotional abuse is as harmful as physical violence. It often involves threats of and actual physical or sexual abuse.

It includes:

  • being put down
  • being constrantly criticised
  • being constantly controlled and monitored by the use of technology: including their phone use being checked and recorded; their mobile phone logs being checked and having all text messages read; abusers using spyware to read emails and secretly installing cameras in the house.
  • threats by the abuser to kill women, the children, members of women's family, or himself, including details of how and when he will do it.
  • property being destroyed including their cars, furniture, clothes, and home.
  • being referred to using derogatory language including calling women 'it', 'bitch'.
  • being trapped as the abuser takes their car keys, empties the petrol from their cars, and steals or smashes phones so women cannot seek assistance.
  • never being left on their own; women being followed room to room; being accompanied to all outside activities.

What is sexual abuse?

Where there is a dynamic of control and abuse in an intimate relationship, the likelihood of sexual coercion and abuse is high. It is harder for women who are being abused by their partner to negotiate a free and equal sexual relationship with that partner.

It includes:

  • being repeatedly raped and beaten; being forcibly stripped and raped; being told that it is their duty to have sex with the abuser.
  • being raped in front of the children.
  • being raped when particularly physically vulnerable, e.g., directly following childbirth.
  • Sexual degradation including the enforced use of graphic and hardcore pornography.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence in which the abuser uses money as a means of controlling his partner. It is a tactic that abusers use to gain power and dominance over their partners and is designed to isolate a woman into a state of complete financial dependence. By controlling the woman's access to financial resources the abuser ensures that she will be forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and facing extreme poverty.

It includes:

  • Controlling the family finances
  • Not being allowed to have independent income
  • Having to account for all purchases including providing receipts and account for all spending.
  • Not being allowed to buy personal items such as tampons and sanitary towels.
  • Taking all of the woman's bank cards and emptying joint accounts.
  • Non-payment or erratic payment of child maintenance.
  • Women's signatures being forged on cheques.
  • Withholding money because women do not want to have sex.
  • Denying money for food for women and the children and money to pay household bills.
  • Using the recession to justify the abuse.

If you are, or think you may be in an abusive relationship, you can ring the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 today for information and support. Find out more about keeping safe and how Women's Aid can help .

Digital Revolutionaries