What is domestic abuse

Examples of domestic abuse and our strategy to tackle it.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse as any incident or pattern of incidents of physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, psychological, emotional or other abuse between those aged 16 and over and personally connected to each other.

Persons are 'personally connected' if:

  • They are, or have been, married to each other;
  • They are, or have been, civil partners of each other;
  • They have agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);
  • They have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);
  • They are, or have been, in an intimate personal relationship with each other;
  • They each have, or there has been a time when they each have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child;
  • They are relatives.

The act also recognises post-separation abuse through coercive and controlling behaviour.

It no longer makes it a requirement for perpetrators and victims to either still be in a relationship or to still live together.

The act also recognises children as victims of domestic abuse.

This is the first time that a child who sees or hears, or experiences domestic abuse, and is related to the person being abused or the perpetrator, is also to be regarded as a victim of domestic abuse in their own right.

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 assaults, 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 ‘Honour’-Based Abuse (HBA), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Forced Marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender, ethnic group, or socio-economic group.

While the definition above applies to those aged 16 or above, ‘Adolescent to parent violence and abuse’ (APVA) can equally involve children under 16 as well as over 16.

There is currently no legal definition of adolescent to parent violence and abuse, however, it is increasingly recognised as a form of domestic violence and abuse.

Examples of Abusive Behaviour

There are different kinds of abuse that can happen in different contexts. Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Psychological and/or Emotional abuse - belittle you, or put you down, isolate you from your family and friends, tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think.​
  • Physical Abuse – Punching, slapping, biting, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, burning using weapons
  • Sexual Abuse – Using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don't want it, forcing you to look at pornographic material.
  • Financial or economic abuse - taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work
  • Harassment and stalking – Following you, checking up on you, spying on you, making unwanted communication, giving unwanted gifts.
  • Online or digital abuse​ – Using technology to threaten and control.
  • 'Honour'-based violence: this is abuse seen as 'justified' in order to protect the honour or respect of a family or community, such as forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM).

Our Domestic Abuse Strategy

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 places new statutory duties on local authorities to:

  • Appoint a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board which it must consult as it performs certain specified functions.
  • Assess, or make arrangements for the assessment of, the need for accommodation-based domestic abuse support in their area for all victims and their children who reside in relevant safe accommodation, including those who come from outside of their area.
  • Prepare and publish a strategy for the provision of such support to cover their area having regard to the needs assessment
  • Give effect to the strategy (through commissioning/decommissioning decisions).
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy.
  • Report back annually to central government.


The Redcar and Cleveland Domestic Abuse Strategy is available to download and view below:

If you have any queries regarding this please contact Sharon Dalton, Domestic Abuse Strategic Lead by emailing sharon.dalton@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk