What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse (or domestic violence) is when abuse or violence is used by one person to hurt, bully, or control another person in a relationship.
Domestic abuse is more often used by men against women, but it can also be used by women against men. It can also happen in same sex relationships between gay or lesbian couples.
Domestic abuse can happen in relationships where couples are married, living together, going out with each other or even living apart.
It is often a pattern that starts early in a relationship and gets worse over time.
It can be:
It can also be things like harassment and intimidation such as stalking, making abusive phone calls, emails or texts.
How much does domestic abuse happen?
It happens a lot. A study in Ireland in 2005 found that 1 in 7 women and 1 in 16 men had experienced abuse from a partner at some time in their lives. (www.crimecouncil.ie)
Other research has found that domestic abuse happens even more than that - in about 20% of families. However, as domestic abuse is usually hidden within families and relationships, it's true extent it probably not fully known.
Are some people more likely to be abused than others are?
If it's so common, why do more people not know about it?
Like a lot of abuse, domestic abuse tends to happen in secret. Often people who are abused are afraid or ashamed to tell anybody. Sometimes abusers use threats to make them keep it a secret.
One of the best ways to stop experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse is to tell someone you trust, who can help you.