The legal definition of domestic abuse is: any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

This can include but isn't limited to the following types of abuse:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • psychological
  • sexual
  • financial

Domestic abuse also includes honour-based abuse and forced marriage. 

The Crown Prosecution Service website has a breakdown of the types of domestic abuse.

Just one incident counts as abuse.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality or social background.

If you are suffering from physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse, or are being threatened, intimidated or stalked by a current or previous partner or close family member, it’s likely you’re a victim of domestic abuse.

You're not to blame for what's happening. You're not alone.

You can report it to us or, if you’re not ready to speak to the police, you can contact support organisations who will help you.

We have a list of national and local support organisations who can help.

Domestic abuse: a survivor's story

Watch these three videos about Katie Royle, who suffered alone as the victim of an intensely coercive and controlling relationship. Katie's talking to Sergeant Ebony Lee.

Chapter one: Katie discusses how the relationship went from what she thought was caring behaviour to abuse. (We apologise that around half way through the sound quality reduces for about a minute.)

Chapter two: Katie on how she reached breaking point and knew she had to seek help.

Chapter three: After her former partner’s conviction, Katie urges others in the same situation to take action and Sergeant Lee explains what support is available when reporting domestic abuse to the police or other organisations.