What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is a significant problem in Tower Hamlets, with the Safer Communities CSP Officer recording an average of 7 incidents every day.

Tower Hamlets council is committed to working in partnership with statutory and community organisations to prevent Domestic abuse and reduce the harm it causes to individuals, families and the community as a whole.

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

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, which is not a legal 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.

Domestic abuse happens across all communities, faiths and cultures. Most often, domestic abuse is committed by men against women, but it also happens in gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender relationships. Sometimes women abuse men. Sometimes other family members may be involved.

As many as one in four women and one in six men experience some form of domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

Is this about you?

  • Does your partner or a close family member hit you or push you around?
  • Do they threaten to hurt you, your children, your friends, family or pets, or even themselves?
  • Do they put you down and make you feel bad about yourself?
  • Are they jealous and possessive?
  • Do they control all the money?
  • Do they stop you from studying or taking a paid job?
  • Do they humiliate or degrade you?
  • Do their moods rule your home and your life?
  • Do they hurt you sexually, or force you to do things you don’t enjoy?
  • Does their family also abuse you, or back them up?
  • Are you often anxious, afraid, depressed, confused?
  • Is what’s happening to you affecting your children?
  • Have your friends, relatives or colleagues expressed concern about you or what is happening to you?
  • Is it getting worse?  

It can be hard to admit, even to yourself, that you are a victim of Domestic Abuse. But this is the first step to getting help and getting safe.

No one has the right to abuse you. You and your children have a right to be safe.

Ignoring violence is dangerous. Violence rarely happens only once. In fact it is more usual for the violence to become more serious the longer it carries on.

How you may be feeling

  • You may feel that you are in some way to blame, that if you change the abuse will stop.
  • You may feel that it is your problem and you have to solve it all by yourself.
  • You may feel embarrassed or ashamed that this is happening to you.
  • You may fear that things will get worse if you try to challenge the abuse.
  • You may fear family or community disapproval or rejection if you take action to protect yourself.
  • You may love the person who abuses you and want your relationship to work.
  • You may keep hoping that things will change. The abuser may promise that they will change.

The fact is, unless a person takes full responsibility for their abusive actions and gets specialist help, chances are they will not change. The help for perpetrators pages gives information on specialist services in London that can help people who are abusive to their partners.