We can all help more women to get safe, stay safe and gain independence by learning to spot the signs of abuse. If you suspect that someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse please call the National Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for advice on how to support them. If they live in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea,Westminster or Brent, call Advance on 020 8741 7008. Below are some common signs of domestic abuse.

  • Controlling and jealous behaviour from the abuser – isolating the victim/survivor, using intimidation, male privilege, coercion and threats.
  • Economic abuse – the abuser prevents their partner from getting a job, demands to see receipts, steals or demands money; controls spending.
  • A perpetrator has mental health issues – mental health issues are not the causes of the abusive behaviour; however it can be an exacerbating factor.
  • Cruelty towards animals – violent offenders can often have histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. For families suffering domestic abuse, the use or threat of abuse against companion animals is often used for control.
  • Abuser is aggressive to others – a perpetrator who has demonstrated aggressive behaviour to the general public (such as bar fights, gang related violence, job related violence, vandalism, or repeated unlawful behaviour) is more likely to abuse a partner.
  • Depression – abused women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic systems, eating problems and sexual dysfunction.
  • Child abuse – child abuse can indicate domestic abuse and vice versa.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth – a third of domestic violence starts in pregnancy.
  • Escalation – previous domestic violence is the most effective indicator that further domestic violence will occur. And the severity of violence tends to escalate after each incident.
  • Cultural awareness / isolation – it can be harder to spot cases of domestic abuse if certain cultural factors are a barrier to a woman speaking out. The victim may fear bringing shame upon family when reporting incidents. Difficulty speaking / reading English or an insecure immigration status can allow domestic abuse to continue. Other obstacles include: social isolation resulting from same sex relationships, disability, mental health or substance abuse; and not working outside the home.
  • Issues of control – men who believe that ‘men should be in charge’ are more likely to use violence against their partner.
  • Recent suicidal or homicidal thoughts / intent – if the survivor tries to leave, the abuser will often threaten to kill himself. This is a manipulative move and one that needs to be taken seriously.
  • Recent employment problems – low income and financial stresses are a risk factor and a sudden change in employment status can increase the risk of violence.
  • Victim/ survivor alcohol dependency – many women who suffer domestic abuse use drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Furthermore, abusive partners often force their partners to use substances in order to gain more control.