Isn't home meant to be where you belong, where you go to be comfortable and safe? But what if it's actually where you never know when you will be abused or assaulted and you don't feel safe at all?

If you are in immediate danger of violence, call 999. 

What is domestic abuse?

As of March 2013, the definition of domestic violence is: "Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a 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.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.” 

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group and for the first time extends to 16- and 17-year-olds.

It happens all the time

According to the Gov.uk site, The British Crime Survey 2009-10 found that 16-19-year-olds were the group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner. 12.7 per cent of women and 6.2 per cent of men in this age group suffer abuse, compared to seven per cent of women and five per cent of men in older groups. Scary stuff and not just happening to adults. If this is all you've known in your relatively short life, you might not even realise it's wrong but it's just the same as any other kind of stuff you don't deserve and shouldn't have to put up with.

Bad relationships

It's not just about parents and other family members abusing you or subjecting you to violence. You don't have to be an adult, or even living with a boyfriend or girlfriend to be suffering relationship or dating abuse. And you certainly might know it's happening to someone else in your house.

If you are going out with or living with someone with whom you are supposed to have a romantic and perhaps sexual relationship, this should be the last person to abuse you. But it isn't just adult partners who are violent or controlling towards each other. It can start early and it can scar you for life and make later relationships much more difficult for you.

There are all kinds of abuse, you can read about them on the being abused page. If you recognise this as how your boyfriend or girlfriend is starting to treat you, get help now.

The government launched a campaign in 2011 about relationship (dating) abuse and teenage rape. You can checkout the special website This is ABUSE for all the information on what to avoid and how to get help, post messages and watch videos as well as find out where to go from there. You can answer yes or no on the checklist to see if you may have a problem relationship.  

Nottinghamshire young people helped produce the Respect not Fear website where you can use their games to test out what the consequences are of certain actions and think more about how relationships should be, share stories with other young people and put your own relationship under the microscope.

The Hideout is a dedicated website for young people up to the age of 21 where they can find information about relationship abuse and where to get help. There is also a moderated messageboard where young people can post about what's going on in their relationships and get direct information and support.

There is more from the USA about teenage dating abuse. Here is some sensible advice from the YWCA of central Alabama's website:

How to end an abusive relationship and stay safe

1. Tell a trusted adult such as parents, a friend's parents, teachers or counsellors. The more isolated you are, the more control your partner has.

2. Avoid being at home, school, work, or anywhere alone with your partner. Ask friends to stick closely by you at parties.

3. Be prepared for you partner to try to talk you into getting back together. Plan what you will do if your partner becomes abusive.

4. Physical assault, rape, stalking and harassment are crimes. Call the police to report incidents or threats of abuse.

How to help a friend in a violent relationship

1. Don't ignore the signs of abuse. Talk to your friend and be supportive without judging.

2. Point out your friend's strengths. Many people in abusive relationships are no longer able to see their own abilities/ gifts.

3. Encourage them to confide in a trusted adult. Talk to a trusted adult if you believe the situation is getting worse. Offer to go with them for help.

4. Never put yourself in a dangerous situation with the abuser. Don't be a mediator.

5. If you witness an assault, call the police to report the incident.

American site Loveisrespect have a whole site helping young people understand what a healthy relationship looks like, recognising and dealing with dating abuse, and advice for getting out of an abusive relationship. You can chat online with one of their trained peer support workers but obviously texting or phoning is out of the question from the UK. They also have a lot of thought provoking material including videos and the Power and Control wheel with how to handle variations on situations. They also invite you to take a quiz to assess whether you are a good boyfriend/girlfriend, see how well you communicate, and answer whether abusers change.
The NHS has advice on relationships for teenage girls www.nhs.uk/livewell/teengirls/Pages/Teengirlshome.aspx
and for teenage boys
www.nhs.uk/livewell/teenboys/Pages/Teenboyshome.aspx 
You might also find some help on the Boys don't cry? and It's different for girls pages. 

Bad families

If you are suffering at the hands of your parents, brothers or sisters or even grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, it might be simply that they are abusive or violent and shouldn't be allowed to continue. Get in touch with Social Services who may be able to remove you from an abusive home. Talk to Childline 0800 11 11 or any of the other general national or local helplines, the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), and if you are 16 or over use the national domestic violence helpline 0808 2000 247. Women's refuge, women's aid help women and children. The men's advice line help men and young men, gay or staight. Broken rainbow help and support lesbian, gay bi or trans victims of relationship violence and domestic abuse.

But if your cultural background is not British, it could be that their excuse is the way things are or were done in another country. It is not ok in the UK to mutilate female genitals. So called honour based violence is just violence and as much inexcusable as any other kind. Forced marriage is against the law. People trafficking is no better than slavery and also against the law. So if you or someone you know is being threatened with any of this, or has had it happen to you or to them, get some help NOW. There are organisations out there who specialise in helping women from ethic communities and in their own languages.

  • IKWRO helps Middle Eastern women and girls (Iranian, Kurdish, Arab, Afghan and Turkish) who are living in the UK and provide confidential advice on issues including domestic violence, “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, separation and divorce, child custody, housing and benefits. They speak Farsi, Arabic, Kurdish, Dari, Turkish and English.
  • Aanchal Women's Aid help women affected by physical as well as mental, financial, sexual and emotional domestic abuse. Their guiding principle is that they will never turn their back on a woman in need of help.
  • Karma Nirvana state " we have one clear aim: to stop the scandal of forced marriage and honour-based violence. No apologies. No excuses. No backing down". They support all victims of forced marriage and so called honour based violence.
  • Asha Forced Marriage offers safe temporary accommodation for South Asian women and children fleeing domestic violence, including forced marriage.
  • The Forced Marriage Unit is there to take action. Call them on 020 7008 0151.
  • Forcedmarriage.net has all the help and advice you need including survivors' stories.

If your refusal to accecpt any of this unfair treatment means you are disowned by your family or community, find comfort and new friends amogst others who did the same. Simran's link are "there for you when there is no-one else".

If you or someone you know has been "trafficked" - brought into the country or moved around without consent - for the purposes of modern day slavery whether it is work or prostitution, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) can act. Use Crimestoppers to report what you know or suspect by calling 0800 555 111. For urgent help call 999. Think it's all a bit dramatic and far-fetched? Take a look at Blueblindfold.org and think again when you read the facts and their FAQs. It's big business globally, and it's serious criminal activity which every little piece of information can help to stop. That's why there are European sites and international activity.

Bad habits

Got a suspicion you might not be squeaky clean in the way you treat your boyfriend/girlfriend? Take the tests they might be using to realise how bad you are! If you are shocked or ashamed to realise you are being abusive yourself, you can face up to the truth and get help from This is ABUSE. Respect offer programmes for people who are violent in their relationships. If you are a bit of a bully, checkout being a bully for ideas on how to stop, and if you think it is an anger management problem then get some help for that. It's no excuse.

So however your life is affected by domestic or relationship (dating) violence or abuse, get some help, tell someone, before it is too late.  

This is Abuse lists sources of help. There are other suggestions on the cultural differences and where you live pages in GTRT, see also rape and sexual assault and being unsafe or in danger as well as being abused. If you ran away to escape, find safety and a permanent solution. If you are fed up with knowing your dad beats your mum up, or your older sister is getting violent towards your little brother, tell someone and help to break the cycle of abuse and violence. It's not just about it happening to you.

The page was last updated on 18 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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