Enter your town or postcode to see information from your local force

    Q108: What is domestic violence?

    Domestic violence is violence - not necessarily only physical but also emotional, financial or sexual - between people who are or have been in an intimate relationship or are family members.

    The definition of domestic violence 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:


    Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

    Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.*

    *This definition includes so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

    The definition includes same sex partners and ex partners, it is irrespective how long ago the relationship ended.

    Figures show that domestic violence seems to occur mostly towards women from men, but it can also happen towards men. Domestic violence can occur in any relationship regardless of age, sex, class, race or disability. There are many organisations that specialise in helping victims of domestic violence, see related websites.

    If you have suffered domestic violence and want to report the incident to the police, then contact your local police force. Each force has a domestic violence unit with specially trained officers who can help you with all the difficulties involved in reporting domestic violence from personal safety to locating safe accommodation.

    For more information please see the websites in related information. There is also link to the 'Help for Victims' website and a Youtube video guide to the website.

    Some useful telephone numbers are -

    Womens' Aid National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
    Refuge 0808 2000 247 (
    Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 80 10 800 (
    ManKind Initiative 01823 334 244 (
    National Centre for Domestic Violence 0844 8044 999 (

    How useful did you find the answer?

    Current answer rating


    Do you still need to contact the police?

    If you can't find the answer? Ask a question