What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is defined as when an intimate partner, ex-partner or family member(s) uses coercive, dominating, violent and threatening behaviour to assert power and control in a relationship. We refer to the abusive person(s) as a ‘perpetrator’. 

Domestic abuse is a form of gender based violence, and women are far more likely to be abused repeatedly, by a male perpetrator close to them. Domestic abuse is a crime that is highly prevalent in our society. It is estimated that 1.6 million women experienced abuse last year alone. 

Domestic abuse does not only refer to physical harm; this is a myth.  It can also be psychological, financial, sexual or emotional. It can also include other Harmful Practices such as ‘honour’ based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and trafficking. It refers to both a pattern of controlling behaviour as well as individual incidents and violence in any form is extremely traumatising and can lead to devastating consequences if left unreported.

Any woman can experience domestic abuse, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or disability. However, some women may face additional barriers because of their culture, background or identity. It is possible that a woman may not realise she is in an abusive relationship and so will not seek help. 

Why do some women stay in the relationship?

There are many reasons why a woman may choose not to report or leave an abusive relationship. They may fear it could put themselves (or their children) at more risk, especially if they have been threatened by their perpetrator. Or another common reason could be because of a lack of financial independence or insecure immigration status. 

Other reasons that may stop someone from accessing support could be because of a language barrier, a disability and/or physical dependence on the perpetrator, mental health and substance abuse difficulties or feeling isolated and ashamed. 

Victim Blaming

It is important to remember that the abuse is never your fault. Domestic abuse can leave you feeling isolated and alone with no one to turn to, as perpetrators seek to gain power and control in your life. There is never a situation which can justify abuse, and the fault always lies entirely with the perpetrator. 

Inequality between men and women is deep rooted in our history and attitudes toward women in our society are ingrained in misogyny that perpetuates violence toward women and girls. By recognising the power that comes with a patriarchal society, it does not mean that all men are perpetrators of abuse, but it does acknowledge that domestic abuse is a gendered crime and highlights the importance of having women-only safe spaces to support survivors. 

Disclosing the Abuse

At Hillingdon Women’s Centre we will always listen to you without making judgements or assumptions about you, and our services are confidential. We care greatly about making sure that women who access our services feel safe, supported and cared for. We will talk through your rights and options available and will ask how your wish to proceed.

We can support you for as long as you need, and work closely with other services in the community to ensure that you are supported through any barriers, each step of the way. Our support is confidential and non-judgmental and we work with women from all backgrounds and ethnicities, aged 18 and over. You are not alone.

If you feel that you need some support or know someone in need of help, but don’t know what to do, please get in touch with us. You can either use our contact form or give us a call on 01895259578.

For professionals making referrals we ask that you use our dedicated referral form.

If you do not feel safe or have been threatened and you are in danger, please call 999 to get emergency support.