Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is when someone is being hurt or victimised by their partner. It is a crime and is never okay.
Unhappy young couple

Family members and partners sometimes disagree, and it's OK to be angry. But anger needs to be expressed safely, so that:

  • no one is hit or hurt,
  • no one feels afraid,
  • and no one feels abused.

When arguments involve violence or threats, intimidation, manipulation, lying or always putting people down, this is abuse. 

Abuse can happen to anyone, of any age. There is no one reason why abusive situations happen. They can be difficult to sort out, but support is available.

Crucial: If someone is in immediate danger or badly hurt dial emergency services 999.

What is abuse?

Abuse is when someone does bad things to someone else over a period of time.

There are different kinds of abuse:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse

Part of learning about relationships, is learning to spot the signs of abuse. This video talks about some of the signs of relationship abuse:

Why does abuse happen?

Young people may be more at risk of abuse in relationships. But domestic abuse can happen at any age, including to young and very old people.

Where there is a big power imbalance in the relationship (for example, if someone is much older, or has a lot more friends, independence or money, or considers themselves to be much better than the other person) then there is a higher risk of abuse, because there is less respect.

Crucial: Domestic abuse causes harm to everyone in the home. If someone in your home is being targeted by someone they are (or have previously been) in a relationship with, it is important to get help. If you're not sure how to start the conversation, you can contact Childline or talk to your School Health Nurse.

Why does abuse carry on?

Relationships often carry on, even when they have problems. This can be hard to understand for other people not in the relationship. But each situation is different.

It is normal and okay to need help to stop the abuse for good.

You can get support to stop abuse. This can include support to end the abusive relationship. It can also include things like counselling, and learning ways to change relationships and improve behaviour.

Crucial: Challenging sexual harassment helps create a safer environment for everybody, and makes it easier to ask for help. 

Domestic abuse and families

Domestic abuse of a parent or someone else in your home and also harms the children in the household. This might include feeling sad and frightened, or having to deal with problems on your own, or caring for brothers and sisters.

When domestic abuse is happening, everyone in the household suffers. If:

  • You are witnessing violence between family members
  • You're afraid of a family member getting hurt, or of getting hurt yourself
  • You no longer feel safe at home

It's not your fault, you are not alone and you can get help.

Getting help with domestic abuse within your home:

  • Talk to a trusted adult such as a teacher, School Health Nurse or another worker
  • Call Childline on 0800 1111
  • Call the police on 999 if you are in immediate danger, or 101 if not an emergency


When someone tries repeatedly to contact, harass, hurt or upset you, it is called stalking. This can include:

  • Regularly sending flowers or gifts
  • Making prank, nasty or persistent phone calls or texts
  • Threats of violence to you or others
  • Damaging property
  • Following, spying and chasing
  • Attacking

Stalking is dangerous, even if the person stalking insists that they mean you no harm. If you are being stalked, it is important to let someone know right away.

Take Action: You can call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300

Getting help if you are being stalked:

  • Call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300
  • Call the police on 999 if you are in immediate danger, or 101 if not an emergency

Risky Relationships

Some relationships are riskier than others. Things like substance misuse, mental health difficulties, addiction and joblessness can increase the stress in a relationship. Past experiences can also cause difficulties in relationships. But recovery is possible and support is available.

My experience: We realised we both came from homes affected by domestic violence and would need help and support if we were going to "break the chain". That was two years ago. We still have our ups and downs, but have learned loads of ways to cope with those explosive feelings that used to end in violence. If you and your partner want to change, don’t be afraid to go for help, even if you are a man. - Ayla,18

Find out more


Posted by Hughes
Posted ago
I need to talk to someone, where can I get help?

Hi, I've edited your comment to remove personal details, but I would like to reassure you that you have been heard and listened to. I would like to encourage you, when you are ready, to contact the Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse helpline on 800 731 0055 - it's open Monday – Friday 9.30am – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm. You can find further help and support here and from

Posted by Bobbie Stewart
Posted ago
Ssomeone I know is being victimised. They are too scared to go to the police. What can I do?

First of all, thanks very much for leaving this question. It can be very difficult to know what to do in this situation. But, domestic abuse is a crime and can be reported by anyone - it doesn't have to be the victim. You can contact your local police on 101 or report anonymously to Crimestoppers - instructions on how to report are here - If anyone is in immediate danger (being attacked or threatened) call 999.

For more information, and to talk things over with someone, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247 - it doesn't have to be the victim who calls, and it doesn't have to be about a current relationship. 

Support is available to protect the person being abused, and make sure there is no further contact. There is also support that will help the abusing person change their behaviour and stop victimising others. You can find out more about all the kinds of help and support available here

I edited your comment to remove the personal information, in order to protect the privacy of those involved. 

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