Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents 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 gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological,

  • Physical,

  • Sexual,

  • Financial,

  • Emotional.


What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. The majority of victims of domestic abuse are women but it can happen to men too. Everyone has arguments and may disagree with their partners, family members and others close to them from time to time, however anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s or family member's reaction is being abused. It can begin at any stage of the relationship. Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off. Incidents generally become more frequent and severe over time.

You can view the 2021 Domestic Abuse Act here


Types of Abuse

Psychological and emotional abuse - Calling you horrible names like stupid or ugly, a bad parent, making you feel ashamed, worthless, or not allowing you to go out alone, checking on you all of the time, ignoring you or giving you the silent treatment, saying you are fat, mad or ill.

Physical - Bruising, cuts, welts, burns anywhere on your body, loss of hair in clumps, pulling your hair, being pushed, slapped, hit, bit, etc.

Sexual - When someone does something to your body that you don’t want.  It can happen to men or women of any age. It includes unwanted kissing or touching, rough or violent sex, rape or attempted rape, refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control, stopping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Economic abuse - controlling your money, taking your pay, checking your shopping receipts, making you justify what you are buying, making you ask for money or just giving you an allowance,  refusing to let you claim benefits, preventing you from working or studying.

Coercive or Controlling behaviour - controlling and bullying you to do things that you don’t want to do. You may be isolated from friends and family.  There may even be threats to harm or kill you or your child or other family members. You may be told that you will be reported to the police or other authorities such as Social Services.  Your property, personal or household goods may get damaged and you may be forced to take part in child abuse or other criminal activity.

Harassment and stalking - Stalking is persistent and unwanted attention, it makes you feel like you are being pestered, or feel scared, anxious or harassed.  You may be followed or aware that someone is keeping track of where you go or even feeling someone is spying on you.  Unwanted messages on your phone or via social media may be frequent or you receive unwanted gifts. 

Unfortunately for some, leaving an abusive relationship doesn’t always stop abusive behaviour.  Stalking is also a pattern of persistent and unwanted attention, monitoring you and it can make you feel pestered, scared, anxious or harassed. Some examples of stalking are:

  • Regularly giving unwanted gifts

  • Making unwanted communication

  • Damaging property

  • Repeatedly following you or spying on you

  • Threats

  • Setting up false social media site(s)


Domestic Abuse Affects Men too

Abuse of men and male victims of domestic abuse are far more common that people realise.  It is a myth to think that it only affects women or girls.  Men often find it hard to speak out about it, worried about seeming weak or worry that they will be blamed or won’t be believed.

Is it different for men?
There are both similarities and differences. Some of the responses to violence from a partner are the same. Being abused by somebody you love and trust can be confusing and bewildering, and any victim whether male or female may wonder if it's their fault. The emotions they feel are going to be similar whether they are male or female, but it can be harder for men to cope with the emotional impact of domestic abuse.

Admitting to being abused is difficult for anybody, and sometimes men often don't have the social networks in place to easily tell a friend or family member. 
It may not be easy to recognize domestic violence against men. Early in the relationship, similarly to women, your partner might seem attentive, generous and protective but later these incidents turn out to be controlling and frightening. Initially, the abuse might appear as isolated incidents. Your partner might apologize and promise not to abuse you again.

Below is a list of ways that you can be used by your partner and can be considered domestic abuse:

  • They may call you names, insult you or put you down

  • They can try to prevent you from going to school or work

  • They will stop you from seeing your family members and friends

  • There may be an attempt to control how you spend money, where you go or what you wear

  • They can act jealous or possessive and accuse you of being unfaithful

  • They will try to control whether you can see a health care provider or may accompany you to an appointment

  • Sometimes they will threaten you with violence or a weapon

  • Other acts of violence include being hit, kicked, shoved, slapped, choked or otherwise hurt you, your children or your pets

  • They will force you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will

  • They may blame you for his or her violent behaviour or tell you that you deserve it

  • They may threaten to tell friends, family, colleagues or even community members your sexual orientation or gender identity

If you are gay, bisexual or transgender, you might also be experiencing domestic violence if you are in a relationship with someone who:

  • Tells you that authorities don’t help gay, bisexual or transgender people

  • Tells you that leaving the relationship means you are admitting that gay, bisexual or transgender relationships are deviant

  • Justifies abuse by telling you that you're not "really" gay, bisexual or transgender

  • Says that men are naturally violent


Disabilities and Domestic Abuse

A review by Public Health England in 2015 confirmed that people with disabilities are more vulnerable to domestic violence, experience domestic abuse for longer periods of time, and experience more severe and frequent abuse than non-disabled people.

Abuse can also happen when someone withholds, destroys or manipulates medical equipment, access to communication, medication, personal care, meals and transportation.


If you are disabled, your abuser may also be your carer, or your personal assistant and you may be reliant on him/her for personal care or mobility. You can be subject to physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence in any or all of the ways that non-disabled women are abused, but in addition you may experience the following forms of abusive behaviour:

  • Your abuser may withhold care from you or undertake it neglectfully or abusively.

  • Your abuser may remove mobility or sensory devices that you need for independence.

  • Your abuser may be claiming state benefits in order to care for you – enabling him to control your finances more effectively.

  • Your abuser may use your disability to taunt or degrade you.


If you are experiencing domestic violence and you are disabled, you may find it harder to protect yourself or to access sources of help.


  • You may be more physically vulnerable than a non-disabled woman.

  • You may be less able to remove yourself from an abusive situation.

  • You may be socially isolated both because of your disability and as a result of your abuser’s control of your social relationships.

  • You may find it harder to disclose abuse because you have no opportunity to see health or social care professionals without your abuser being present.



If you are disabled, you may have particular concerns about moving out of your home: it may have been specially adapted for you, or perhaps a care package has been organised and you are worried that you will lose your current level of independence if you are forced to move elsewhere. You may be reluctant to report domestic violence from a partner whose care you depend on, and which you believe enables you to stay out of institutional care.

Seeking help


As a disabled woman, you may be regarded as a “vulnerable adult”, and in this case, the multi-agency Policies and Procedures for the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable adults will apply. All areas have had to develop these policies and procedures following on from the publication of the Government’s No Secrets guidance. The criteria for being defined as a “vulnerable adult” vary from area to area – but if you do fit the criteria set in your area, than all agencies (both statutory and voluntary) have to follow these procedures.

You may be reluctant to report domestic abuse if you do not feel confident you will be believed or that your concerns will be taken seriously. You may also think that there is little that anyone can do, and nowhere for you to go. If you decide you want to leave your abuser, refuge-based support and other domestic violence services may not always be appropriate. Some refuge accommodation may not be accessible, and you may need help with personal care or other needs (such as sign language interpreters or transport).


There is help and support available for any woman experiencing domestic abuse. Many domestic abuse services are able to support disabled women and have outreach services or independent advocacy services which can help you. If you need safe accommodation many refuges now have full wheelchair access, and workers who can assist women and children who have special needs such as hearing or visual impairments, and some Women’s Aid organisations offer BSL interpreters.

The Ann Craft Trust (ACT) has produced a useful directory for support and advice for those with disabilities.


COVID-19 - Surviving Lockdown

The Domestic Abuse Helpline took more than 40,000 calls during the first three months of lockdown.  Here, you will find links and key contact numbers across the 7 local authorities across the west midlands and a link to the government’s web page for their domestic abuse campaign.

Download the Men Ending Violence – A Lockdown Toolkit here:


Clare’s Law

In 2009, Clare Wood was killed by George Appleton, a man with a known history of violence towards women. Clare's bereaved father Michael Brown's grim determination contributed towards a law that could have saved his daughter’s life. His aim was to help to prevent a repeat of what happened to Clare.


Since 2014, Clare’s Law gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. Under Clare’s Law, a member of the public can also make enquiries into the partner of a close friend or family member- this is the Right to Ask. Professionals who have concerns for a client or indeed a police officer themselves can apply under the Right to Know. The aim of this scheme is to give members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.

Every request under Clare’s Law is thoroughly checked by a panel made up of police, probation services and other agencies to ensure information is only passed on where it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. Trained police officers and advisers are then on hand to support victims through the difficult and sometimes dangerous transitional period.

Clare’s Law, or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, has two functions: ‘right to ask’ - this enables someone to ask the police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme; and ‘right to know’ - police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances.

How do I make a Clare's Law request?

If you would like to make a request under Clare's Law, you can do so by filling in West Midlands Police online form.

Alternatively, you can also visit your local police station.


After the form has been received and initial enquiries have been completed, you may be asked to come to a face to face meeting with a police officer. If you are asked to this meeting, you should bring two forms of ID, with at least one being photographic ID.

What happens after I make the request?

Once an application has been made, the police will carry out a range of checks along with other partner agencies. If the police find a record of abusive offences, or if the police feel there is a risk of abuse or violence, the police will consider sharing this information.
If the police do decide to make a disclosure, it will always be done in person. This will normally be made to the person at risk, but in certain circumstances someone else may be in a better position to use the information to protect the person.
The aim of this information is to help people make a more informed decision on whether to continue with their relationship, as well as providing help and support when making the choice.


Domestic Violence Protection Orders

The Domestic Violence Protection Orders approach has two stages:
Where the police have reasonable grounds for believing that a perpetrator has used or threatened violence towards the victim and the victim is at risk of future violent behaviour, they can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice on the spot, provided they have the authorisation of an officer at Superintendent rank.
The magistrates’ court must then hear the case for the Protection Order itself – which is the second step – within 48 hours of the Notice being made. If granted, the Order may last between a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days. This strikes the right balance between immediate protection for the victim and judicial oversight.


Support a friend if they’re being abused

If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:

  • listen, and take care not to blame them

  • acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse

  • give them time to talk, but don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to

  • acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation

  • tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said

  • support them as a friend – encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions

  • don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they’re not ready – that’s their decision

  • ask if they have suffered physical harm – if so, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP

  • help them report the assault to the police if they choose to

  • be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse