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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:

  • 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.

Facts about domestic violence and abuse

  • It is the largest cause of death for women worldwide and statistically is higher than war, cancer or motor vehicle accidents.
  • Two women per week in England and Wales die as a result of this crime and 30 men die per year
  • At some point during their lives at least one in four women and one in six men are affected by domestic abuse. The statistics in relation to men may in fact be higher than one in six.
  • It accounts for between a quarter and a third of all violent crime reported.

What you can do

Everyone has the right to be safe in their own home and to live free from abuse, violence, threat and fear. There are things you can do to change your life and support services available to help you do this. Whatever you do, you can choose what is the best and safest solution for your situation. There are several things that you could do to change your situation, including some of the following:

  • Recognise that you are in an abusive relationship and that you have the right to be treated differently - this might be difficult and take some time, but until you are able to do this, nothing can change.
  • Find out where you can find emotional support and practical help - you may want to start by talking to a friend you can trust.
  • Get advice from a solicitor or the Citizen's Advice Bureau about your legal rights, protection under the law, safe housing and money.
  • Contact Devon Domestic Abuse Support Service to discuss the available options work out a crisis safety plan to keep you and your children safe. See also phone number shown below.
  • Identify a safe place to go, such as a friend, neighbour, family member or a women's refuge.
  • Plan how to get help in an emergency at any time.
  • Store emergency clothes, money, children's toys, important documents, addresses, telephone numbers and spare keys with someone you can trust or in a safe and easily accessible place.

How to get help

If you are in immediate danger or you know of someone else who is due to domestic abuse do not hesitate in dialling 999.

For women only

  • National 24 hour Freephone Helpline: 0808 2000 247

For men only

  • Men’s Advice Line for male victims and survivors: 0808 801 0327

For men and women and children

  • Devon Domestic Abuse Support Services: 0345 155 1074 (9am to 5pm weekdays)

For Children and Young People

  • A free confidential service for anyone worried about what they are seeing or hearing in their home. The service offers counselling and advice: NSPCC – 0800 800 500

Other contact numbers

  • Sexual Abuse Line (a free listening service for people in Devon who have been sexually abused either recently or in the past). Tel: 0808 800 0188
  • Elder Abuse Helpline (advice is required about older people who are being abused). Tel: 0808 808 8141
  • National Stalking Helpline. Tel: 0808 802 0300
  • Childline: 0800 1111