understanding abuse


Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, but it’s a massively under-reported crime because it tends to happen behind closed doors.

Bruises and broken bones can be hidden or explained away. And the psychological damage caused by non-visible abuse (including emotional abuse, verbal abuse and financial abuse) can remain completely invisible for several years – or in many cases, for an entire lifetime.

Two women are killed every week in England & Wales by a partner or ex-partner.

Many victims don’t even realise they’re being abused. Many will stay with their partner even when they know they’re being abused.

Because part of what abusers do is to convince you that you aren’t worth more. That this is as good as it gets. That you’d be nothing without them. That no-one else will put up with you.

Abuse manifests itself in many different ways. It isn’t always as straightforward as leaving or as obvious as a black eye or broken bones. Domestic abuse is complex and widespread.

Take a look at our understanding abuse pages to find out more:

Physical abuse

Emotional abuse

Verbal abuse

Financial abuse

Sexual abuse


Reproductive abuse

Adolescent to parent abuse

Elder abuse

LGBT+ abuse

If you feel like you might be in an abusive relationship, have a read of the links above or visit our get help section. For more about the services we provide, take a look at our services.

Or for urgent temporary crisis accommodation, call our 24-hour helpline on 0300 123 5101 (or 01270 250390 if you’re calling from another area).