Domestic Abuse

What is abuse?

Abusive behaviour can be:

  • violent (hitting, kicking, slapping)
  • emotional (humiliating and putting you down)
  • sexual (forcing you to do sexual acts you don't want to)

Abusive relationships can start with verbal or emotional abuse and often escalate into physical abuse. Abusive relationships can happen to anyone.

Some signs of potential violent and abusive behaviour are:

  • extreme jealousy
  • anger when you want to spend time with your friends
  • isolating you from friends and family
  • trying to control your life
  • humiliating you, putting you down
  • threatening to harm you or to self-harm if you leave them
  • demanding to know where you are all the time
  • monitoring your calls and emails, threatening you if you don't respond instantly
  • explosive anger
  • using force during an argument
  • blaming others for his/her problems or feelings
  • being verbally abusive
  • threatening behaviour towards others
  • pressuring you to send sexual texts and images of yourself
  • sharing any sexual text and images of you with others

The Women's Aid federation for England has put together an online questionnaire.  It may be useful to you whether you are a man or a woman, and you want to identify whether what you are experiencing is abuse.

What happens if I go into a refuge?

A refuge offers a safe, secure and supportive environment for women and their children fleeing domestic abuse.

There are many different sorts of accommodation ranging from flats to shared houses but you always have your own private space and your own key.  There are also communal areas and facilities for children.  You can get advice about housing, benefits, legal questions, health, education and other issues. You will have your own key worker to work with you throughout your stay, who will help you rebuild your life. When you are ready to move on, there will be help too.

Although the refuge is temporary accommodation you will be able to settle whilst you recover and supported to ensure you can return to a safe home in the community. 

What if I want to stay in my own home?

The organisations and support services in your area can help you consider your options and make the right choices for your future at your own pace, whilst you stay in your own home.  They can provide practical and emotional support at home or somewhere safe in your community, with an opportunity to meet others who are experiencing similar situations.

Sanctuary schemes help victims of domestic violence stay in their home and feel safe through installing physical security measures.  Every 'sanctuary' is tailored to individual needs and circumstances, and range from fitting new locks and external lighting to creating secure 'sanctuary rooms'.

To find a local support service, use the search box at the top of the page.

What is a DVPO?

A Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) is a civil order aimed at protecting victims from further violence.

A Domestic Violence Protection Notice's (DVPN) is issued by the Police and 'bans' an individual from certain acts for a period of 48 hours. During this 48 hours, the Police can then make an application to a Court to issue a DVPO. This will then extend the 'ban' for a further 14 to 28 days.

The Crime and Security Act 2010 provides police and magistrates courts with the powers to issue these.

If a DVPN or DVPO is breached, the Police can then arrest the perpetrator.

What is Clare's Law?

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is often called Clare's Law after the case that led to it.

Clare's Law gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may post a risk to them. Under Clare's Law, a member of the public can also ask about the partner of a close friend or family member.

Applications are made to the police who will then carry out a range of checks to reveal any record of abusive offences or violence. They will then make an informed decision, with other partners, about what information they release to you.

Any disclosure of information will be done in person.

You can find out more information and make an application on the Sussex Police website.

What is a Forced Marriage?

You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.

Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (e.g. threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (e.g. if you're made to feel like you're bringing shame on your family).

For help, or if you are concerned about a forced marriage, you can contact the national Forced Marriage Unit (FMU)


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