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What is Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence and Abuse



    Domestic abuse is common in our society. It effects 1 in 5 women. Domestic abuse is not just physical abuse it can be emotional or psychological, financial, sexual, and digital and involve coercive control. Domestic abuse can continue when a relationship has ended. This is called post separation abuse. [link to post separation abuse info]

    Domestic abuse exists in all communities and is not determined by class or social status. Poverty, disability and ethnicity can have additional and severe impacts.

    I was involved in a violent relationship. I mainly suffered psychological abuse which is really a very short, formal and inaccurate term for absolute sadness, depression, horror, desperation, confusion, darkness, pain and helplessness

    DVR Client testimony

    Domestic abuse is not her fault. It is not her imagination. It is not acceptable. (Safe Ireland 2019)

    What is Domestic violence and abuse?

    We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases, it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men. Domestic abuse can be physical, emotional or psychological, financial, sexual, and digital and involve coercive control


    I don’t want daddy to hurt mummy anymore”

    What is coercive control?

    Coercive control is formally defined as psychological abuse in intimate relationships that causes fear of violence or serious alarm or distress that has a substantial adverse impact on a person's day-to-day life, manifesting as a pattern of intimidation or humiliation involving psychological or emotional abuse.

    Coercive control is a crime and can be prosecuted. It is at the very heart of domestic abuse. It does not have to be physical violence. It is persistence and deliberate pattern of behaviour by an abuser over a prolonged period of time designed to achieve obedience and create fear. Coercive control specifically relates to tactics used by an intimate partner - a spouse, non-spouse or civil partner - now or in the past.

    What are the tactics of coercive control?

    Coercive control is all about making a woman’s world smaller, trapping her and restricting her independence and freedom.

    Being isolated from your family or friends

    Control what you wear / what you eat

    Preventing you from accessing essential services like medical, support services

    Humiliate, degrade and dehumanise you

    Force you to take part in criminal activity

    Controls all the finances / prevents you from working or having your own money

    Threatening to publish pictures or videos of you online

    Monitor your online activity or install spyware on your phone or laptop

    It was a guard who gave me a leaflet for the DVR and told me I was in an abusive relationship. At this point I was so disillusioned, broken and afraid I didn’t think there was a name for such madness. I eventually plucked up the courage to call and immediately things started to change for me.

    DVR Client testimony

    The cycle of abuse

    Domestic violence and abuse can happen in dating relationships as well as more established relationships or marriage and can be just as dangerous.  Abusive relationships typically become intense quickly and are often difficult and dangerous to end.  Domestic violence is used deliberately to gain and maintain power and control over you through the use of many different tactics including physical violence.  Perpetrators will deny, minimise, excuse or blame you for the abuse and their behaviour.  This pattern of behaviour can be confusing and often this confusion is deliberate.  Abuse doesn’t happen all the time and there is often a pattern to their dynamic.

    calm and happy phase

    He treats you well and you enjoy being with him

    A tension building phase

    He seems more stressed, you feel you are walking on egg-shells

    An explosion phase

    He may create a big argument or explode and lose his temper, could assault you physically

    A re-start phase

    He may say he’s sorry and it won’t happen again, may blame you and say it was your fault, may cry and beg you to stay, may deny that it happened.

    Once this cycle is established it is difficult to break it, and the periods between the different phases become shorter.


    Is your relationship abusive ?

    (Women’s Aid Checklist)

    Any one of the following signs is serious. You do not need to experience several, or all of them for your relationship to be abusive.

    • You are afraid of your partner.
    • You are constantly 'walking on eggshells' because of his mood swings.
    • You spend your time working out what kind of mood he is in and the focus is always on his needs.
    • He loses his temper easily and over minor things.
    • He has hit you or almost hit you and/or your children.
    • Your partner has been abusive in a previous relationship.
    • He criticises your family and friends and/or makes it difficult for you to see them or talk to them on your own.
    • He calls you names and threatens you and/or your children.
    • He is jealous and accuses you of flirting and having affairs.
    • He regularly criticises or undermines you in front of other people - including about the way you look, dress, and/or your abilities as a mother.
    • Your needs are not considered important or are ignored, and he makes the decisions in the relationship.
    • You find it hard to get time on your own. When you do spend time away from him, he demands to know where you were and who you were with.
    • He controls your access to basic essentials such as the car, the family finances, food, the telephone and internet.
    • He has forced you to do something that you really did not want to do.
    • He has forced you to have sex with him or with other people. He has made you participate in sexual activities that you were uncomfortable with.
    • He has threatened to have you deported because of your immigration status.
    • He tries to control aspects of your life such as whether you work, and where; who you see and when; what you can spend; what you can wear; what you watch or listen to on the radio or television.
    • He demands to know the passwords to you email account and social networking pages.
    • He has threatened to kill you, or to kill himself, if you leave him.



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