Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland

 
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What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is the intentional and persistent physical, emotional, sexual or mental abuse of one person by another, with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship.  Over 90% of reported cases of such violence are by men against women. 

Domestic violence is rarely a one-off event. It tends to escalate in frequency and severity over time. It can be physical and can include: slapping, punching, beating, kicking, knife wounds — often leading to permanent injuries and sometimes death.  

It can be sexual abuse, this could include being forced to have sex against your will, sexual degradation and forcing sex in ways that hurt and  injure. 

Domestic violence can also result in emotional and mental harm caused for example by constant criticism, being told that you are useless, ugly, worthless or humiliating you in public. Threats to kill or harm you or the children, intimidation, bullying, being locked in or kept in isolation away from family and friends, withholding money, food, sleep and being made a prisoner in your own home:- all these are patterns of abuse experienced by many women.

A definition

"Domestic violence is the use of physical or emotional force or threat within close adult relationships in a way that causes harm or distress to victims.  In addition to actual or threatened physical or sexual assault and damage to  property, domestic violence includes non-physical intimidation, such as persistent verbal abuse, emotional blackmail and enforced social or financial deprivation.  Having abused once, perpetrators usually persist, intensifying and escalating the maltreatment."  Northern Ireland Office Policy Statement 1995

A quarter of all women experience domestic violence at some stage in their lives and almost half the women who are murdered are killed by their partners.  And violent men come from all economic, cultural and social backgrounds.

Every year in Northern Ireland around 17,000 women contact Women’s Aid for advice and around 3000 women and children stay in refuges.

If you would like to order any of our publications on domestic violence please click here.