What is domestic abuse? (Definition)

Domestic violence and abuse:

New definition published by Home Office - click here to read.

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour

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

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.

(Please note this is not a legal definition)


High level stats relating to issues connected to domestic abuse

  • At least 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse at some time in their adult life.
  • On average 2 women per week in England and Wales are murdered by a partner or ex-partner.
  • Women on average are assaulted up to 35 times before they report the violence to the Police. Even so, the Police receive a call relating to a domestic abuse incident every minute in the U.K.
  • The Specialist Domestic Abuse Court in Surrey has dealt with over 400 cases a year in the past two years.
  • 12,481 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to Surrey Police between April 2012 and March 2013. This figure includes 3,625 incidents where the victim had previously experienced domestic abuse, a rate of 29%.  9,816 of the incidents reported to Surrey Police in 2012/13 were from female victims.
  • The average number of referrals to domestic abuse outreach services in Surrey is 3,205 per year, based on the past seven years. 70% of referrals to outreach each year are from Surrey Police, fifteen percent of victims self-refer, and other agencies, such as social care, refer a small percentage of victims.
  • Domestic abuse is the most prevalent cause of depression and mental health difficulties.
  • Those experiencing domestic abuse are as much as 15 times more likely to misuse alcohol and 4 times more likely to misuse drugs than women generally.