What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive/ threatening, controlling behaviour used by one person over another within a close or intimate relationship.

It can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse

Power and control

At the root of all domestic violence is a desire for the abuser to have power and control over their partner. In most situations, the abuser uses a range of behaviours to gain, and ensure power and control, over the other person. These abusive actions often get worse over time.

Coercive Control

Coercive control describes the pattern of sustained emotional and psychological abuse of an intimate partner. It can include threats, intimidation, control and restrictions of liberty. It can also include physical and sexual violence, which are often used as tools by abusers to exert further control and fear.

See the link below from women’s aid to a guide to coercive control which includes the signs to help recognise coercive control.



In the majority of cases, women are the victims of domestic violence. While, male partners (husbands, boyfriends etc) the perpetrators. Domestic violence can also occur between family members, between same sex couples and be perpetrated by women against men.

Types of abuse

The list below will help you recognise the signs of an abusive relationship. Not all methods of abuse are listed here though. Some are hard to define. But, if you are nervous, frightened or anxious around your partner, then the relationship may not be equal. If something does not feel right, then it probably isn’t. You are the best judge of your own situation, trust your instinct.

Physical abuse

  • Punching or slapping you
  • Using weapons, such as knives or hammers against you
  • Using household items as weapons, such as throwing a phone at you
  • Biting you
  • Pinching you
  • Kicking you
  • Pulling your hair
  • Pushing or shoving you
  • Burning you
  • Strangling or choking you
  • Raping you

Emotional or psychological abuse

  • Constantly putting you down and calling you names in private and/or in front of others
  • Not listening or responding when you talk
  • Restricting where you can travel to or who you can see.
  • Monitoring the petrol or diesel you have used in your car or the distance you have travelled
  • Not allowing friends or family to the house or stopping you from spending time with them
  • Telling your family and friends lies about you
  • Sulking or not speaking to you when you do something, they don’t approve of
  • Lying to you or withholding information from you
  • Being jealous of your other relationships with family, friends or colleagues
  • Having other relationships
  • Breaking promises and shared agreements
  • Threatening to harm themselves
  • Stalking you
  • Monitoring your whereabouts by following you or using tracking devices on your phone
  • Monitoring your online activity or opening your post and emails
  • Making threats to hurt you, your children or others you care about including pets
  • Destroying or threatening to destroy your property, belongings or car

Sexual abuse

  • Raping you
  • Using force, threats, or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts
  • Making you feel guilty for not having sex
  • Any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation
  • Withholding contraception or controlling your access to it
  • Making you watch pornography or forcing you to participate in the making of it
  • Sharing, or threatening to share, intimate images online or with friends, family or colleagues

Financial abuse

  • Controlling all household money and asking you to account for money spent, including showing receipts
  • Denying you access to your bank account or shared bank accounts
  • Sabotaging your work or preventing you from attending work (example: hiding your car keys)
  • Withholding money for food, household or personal items
  • Not paying bills, rent or the mortgage and allowing arrears to build up
  • Not paying child maintenance as agreed or at all

Digital abuse

  • Sharing intimate and private pictures or messages online
  • Harassing you by sending insulting or threatening texts or messages
  • Making fake profiles to harass you
  • Monitoring all of your online activity, examples include who comments or likes your posts
  • Checking your search history.
  • Using technology to track your whereabouts
  • Demanding you give them your passwords to your online accounts

The above information was created by Safe Ireland and is reproduced with their permission.

For more information on what is domestic abuse, click on the link below https://www.safeireland.ie/get-help/understanding-domestic-violence/

What does research tell us about Gender Based Violence in Ireland?

The most recent prevalence figures for gender-based violence are available from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency [FRA] survey carried out in 2015.

1,567 women were interviewed in Ireland for this survey. The survey results indicate that:

-4% of women were being physically and sexually abused by their current partner/spouse

-11% had been physical or sexual abused by a former partner/spouse

-11% of women were experiencing psychological abuse from a current partner/spouse

-37% experienced psychological abuse by a former partner/spouse

-41% of women knew a woman in their family and friendship circle who was being abused

-49% of women had seen an awareness campaign on domestic violence, 49% had not.

Domestic Violence and Gender

While we know that men also experience domestic violence and more work and focus is happening on this issue, 1 in 7 women compared with 1 in 17 men experience severe domestic violence. Women are over twice as likely as men to have experienced severe physical abuse, seven times more likely to have experienced sexual abuse and are more likely to experience serious injuries than men. (National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men, 2005)

For more information on domestic violence check out www.womensaid.ie and www.safeireland.ie