Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence occurs when one person harms another person with whom they have or have had a relationship.
They do not need to be heterosexual partners and they do not need to live in the same property. Both women and men can be the victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence can be where one person physically attacks the other, but it may also be emotional, sexual or financial abuse. Children can be victims if they have witnessed domestic violence.
If you need help to recognise whether you are being abused, there are many organisations that can give you confidential advice and we can provide you with details of them. There are also many local shelters and we can help you find a place of safety.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse – also known as psychological abuse – can be particularly hard to spot because it leaves no physical evidence on the victim. The abuser is trying to gain psychological power and control over the victim.
Emotional abuse is typically verbal and can involve the abuser:

  • Threatening the victim
  • Making the victim believe they are worthless
  • Ignoring the victim
  • Trying to control the victim – what they say, do and wear
  • Humiliating the victim

What is coercive controlling behaviour?

Coercive controlling behaviour is a form of domestic violence. The definitions are:
Coercive behaviour
An act, or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten the victim.
Controlling behaviourA 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.

What is gaslighting?

The term refers to a form of intimidation or psychological abuse where false information is presented to the victim, in order to encourage them to doubt their memory and perception.
At its most extreme, gaslighting is used by abusers in conjunction with physical abuse to prevent it being reported.
The techniques have been compared to brainwashing and have lasting effects on the victim. Gaslighting is often difficult to spot as it has no obvious physical signs, however is very manipulative and can cause long-term mental health issues which often lead to victims questioning their own sanity.

5 key characteristics of gaslighting:

  • Manipulation
  • Denial
  • Misdirection
  • Contradiction
  • Lying

What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Whilst some people have some narcissistic traits on occasion, high levels of narcissism that occur in a pathological form are traits of narcissistic personality disorder. Typically, a person overestimates their abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation. Often, narcissists have a limited ability to experience emotion.
Whilst this disorder rarely features in family cases, knowledge of and experience in dealing with cases involving narcissism is important to ensure that appropriate protections are put into place so that the case proceeds without undue distractions and that the agreed strategy can be executed.

Legal options for those affected by domestic violence

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have a number of options available. These include reporting the violence to the police, leaving home temporarily (or permanently) or staying in your home and getting the person who is harming you to leave. The paramount consideration is securing your safety and we can provide legal advice as to the most appropriate steps to take.
Once you are safe, consideration needs to be taken as to your future plans such as:

  • Whether you wish to permanently separate from your partner
  • Whether you want to take action to keep the violent partner away from you
  • Protecting your rights to the family home – whether this involves preserving your interests after you have left the property or maintaining your interest whilst you remain there
  • Ensuring that appropriate contact arrangements are in place between the children and your former spouse or partner