Frequently Asked Questions
What is domestic abuse?
Swansea Women’s Aid uses Welsh Women’s Aid’s definition of domestic abuse.
“Domestic abuse is the exercise of control by one person over another within an intimate or close family relationship; the abuse can be sexual, physical, financial, emotional or psychological. The abuse can happen in the home or elsewhere.
It is usually a pattern of behaviour and happens regardless of sex, age, carer responsibility, class, disability, gender identity, immigration status, ethnicity, geography or religion. However, the gender of the victim and of the perpetrator influences the severity, risk, and harm caused.”
This definition of domestic abuse emphasises that abuse can happen to anyone and takes many different forms.
Who can experience domestic abuse?
Anyone can experience domestic abuse, regardless of sex, age, carer responsibility, class, disability, gender identity, immigration status, ethnicity, geography or religion. However, the gender of the victim and of the perpetrator influences the severity, risk, and harm caused.
At Swansea Women’s Aid, we recognise that there is a gender bias towards women with domestic abuse with one in four women in England and Wales experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime. It is for this reason that we operate as a women’s only service.
Are there different types of domestic abuse?
There are many different types of domestic abuse. Among others, these can include:
- Physical Abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Stalking and harassment
- Coercive control
- Cyber abuse
The types of abuse people experience can often overlap and people often experience several types of abuse. Everyone’s experience of domestic abuse is different; it doesn’t matter what type of abuse you have experience; we are here to support you.
What is Physical Abuse?
Physical abuse is when a person uses physical force against another person to cause them harm or does a physical act that could have caused the person harm.
This can include:
- Hair pulling
- Throwing things
- Use of weapons.
Physical abuse is never acceptable in any relationship. Whether it is one incident of physical abuse or multiple, it is never okay and you should not have to endure it. If you are at risk of physical harm and it is safe to do so you can call 999 for help.
What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse is when a person is using or misusing money which limits and controls their partner’s current and future actions and their freedom of choice, it can also be when a person prevents their partner from accumulating income. Financial abuse can often limit a person’s independence and trap them in abusive relationships.
Financial abuse can include:
- Withholding someone’s money, from their wages or benefits
- Preventing someone from working to earn money
- Running up debt in someone’s name
- Preventing someone from education which would help them gain employment
- Stealing money
- Demanding gift and expensive items or money to pay bills
- Breaking expensive items which the victim will need to pay to replace
What is emotional abuse?
Sometimes called psychological abuse, emotional abuse is a person’s attempts to control, imitate or scare someone through their actions and behaviours which often are persistent and repetitive. Emotional abuse can cause the victim to live in fear and become isolated from their families, friends and the surrounding community.
Emotional abuse is often made up of verbal threats which can also be accompanied by the threat of physical violence.
Emotional abuse can include:
- Playing mind games
- Checking up on someone
- Causing arguments
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is sexual behaviour or a sexual act forced upon a person without their consent. This can include:
- Unwanted kissing or touching
- Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity
- Rape or attempted rape
- Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control
- Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
- Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity
- Pressuring or forcing someone to have sex or perform sexual acts
- Using sexual insults toward someone
- Forcing someone to view pornography or to act out pornography
Sexual abuse is never okay and is unacceptable in any relationship.
What is stalking and harassment?
Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered and harassed. Some examples of this include:
- Giving unwanted gifts
- Making unwanted communication
- Following or spying on someone
Stalking and harassment are not only done in person but can also be done online, with modern technology meaning people can be followed and contacted in more ways.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control is a pattern of threats, intimidation, humiliation and acts of assault or other abuse which is done to control, punish or harm the victim.
Coercive control can isolate people from their support networks, remove or lessen their independence and stop them from being able to have control of their everyday behaviour.
Examples of coercive control include:
- Taking over control of a persons daily life including where you can go, what you can eat, what you can wear, who you can see and when you can sleep.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Deprivation of food and other basic needs.
- Name-calling and insults to lower aimed to lower self-esteem.
- Threats that degrades, humiliate and intimidate
- Monitoring of time and activities, which can include stalking online usage
The abuse I am experiencing is not physical, is it still domestic abuse?
There doesn’t have to be physical abuse for there to be domestic abuse. Due to the use of the term domestic violence instead of domestic abuse, many people think that all abuse has to be physical, however, this is not the case. There are many forms of non-physical abuse, such as emotional abuse, financial abuse and coercive control which are just as harmful as physical abuse and need to be treated equally as seriously.
We take all types of abuse equally as seriously. We know that sometimes women can be apprehensive about using our services if they haven’t experienced physical abuse, however, we want to assure you that no type of abuse is ever okay.
Does domestic abuse happen in LGBT+ relationships?
Domestic abuse can happen in all relationships, including the relationships involving LGBT+ people. There can sometimes be added stigma around abuse in LGBT+ relationships which can make it harder for LGBT+ people to seek support. We also know that a person’s sexuality and gender can be used against them in the abuse that they receive.
Research by LGBT charity Stonewall shows that one in four lesbian and bi women have experienced domestic abuse in a relationship. Two-thirds of those abused say their perpetrator was a woman, and in one-third of incidents the perpetrator was a man. There is also evidence to suggest that Transgender women are at heightened risk of domestic abuse with a report by The Scottish Transgender Alliance indicating that 80% of trans people included in the report had experienced emotional, sexual, or physical abuse from a partner or ex-partner.
Does Swansea Women’s Aid support LBGT+ women?
Yes, Swansea Women’s Aid supports LGBT+ Women. Our service is open to all women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.
Does domestic abuse only happen in intimate partner relationships?
No, domestic abuse can be present in many different types of relationships, including family relationships such as a person experiencing abuse from their parent, child, sibling, grandchild or other relations. We know that for many people experiencing this type of abuse recognising it as domestic abuse can be hard. Domestic abuse where a family member is a perpetrator is less talked about in society, however, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen or that if it does happen, that It’s okay.Swansea Women’s Aid can support women who are experiencing domestic abuse by a family member/s and understands the difficult and often complex situation women who experience domestic abuse from a family member are in.
Can I experience abuse from my adult child?
Yes, domestic abuse can be perpetrated by adult children. Adult child to parent abuse is any act of an adult child over the age of 18 that creates fear and/or is intended to hurt the parent. This can include physical, emotional, verbal and financial abuse, among other types of abuse.
Arguing within families is normal and is usually swiftly resolved when everyone is equal in the relationship. However, the use of violence and other forms of abuse is not normal and is about the abuser having control over the victim, creating an imbalance of power through fear and intimidation.
Parents can often feel responsible for their children’s actions and feel guilt and shame due to the abuse. They may also refrain from seeking help as they worry about the repercussions their children might face. It is important to remember that adult child to parent abuse is domestic abuse. Protecting yourself from abuse does not make you a bad parent. The only person to blame for the abuse is the abuser.
Can Children experience domestic abuse?
Children can experience and be affected by domestic abuse in many ways. They can be impacted by witnessing the abuse of another person or they can be directly targeted by the abuser. No child should have to face or endure domestic abuse. Young people can also face domestic abuse in their own relationships.
What are the effects of domestic abuse on children?
Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on young people which can last in adulthood. Experiencing domestic abuse can be deeply traumatic. Domestic abuse affects each child differently and can have both short and long term effects on a child. Some examples include:
- Being withdrawn and anxious
- May have difficulty sleeping, this can include having nightmares or flashbacks
- They may have a lowered sense of self-worth
- May have issues expressing their emotions
- Can be seen to act out.
It is important to support young people to deal with the trauma that they faced. Our Children and Young People’s Service work with young people to help them understand and process the trauma that they’ve face. Find out more about CHYPS here.
What is a MARAC Meeting?
MARAC stands for Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference. Swansea Women’s Aid works closely with the Police, IDVA’s Housing, Health Visitors, Probation, Education, Health and Voluntary Sector Organisations and various other strategic bodies as part of the MARAC process. This panel meets fortnightly to identify and form a safety plan for high need survivors of domestic abuse.
Is there help and support available for men?
As a women’s only organisation we do not provide support for men. However, we do recognise that men can and do experience domestic abuse. Many other organisations can support male victims of domestic abuse. By calling the Live Fear Free Helpline on 08080808088 you can be put in touch with a relevant organisation.