What is abusive behaviour?

Is there equality in your relationship? Is there a high level of trust and acceptance of each others needs? Do you have friends and/or hobbies that you can pursue without the involvement of your partner?

Perhaps you feel like you need to know where your partner is all the time, that you need to be in control of finances or decision making. Perhaps you behave very differently in front of others compared to when you're alone with your partner?

Perhaps your partner feels intimidated or scared when you lose your temper?

  • Domestic violence and abuse is about power and control. It is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have ever been, intimate partners or family members.
  • Intimate partners could mean boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, or other sexual partner. Family members includes step/half family (e.g. step-daughter or half-brother) and extended family (e.g. uncle, cousin, grandmother).
  • Domestic violence and abuse is rarely a one-off incident and is a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victim.
  • It occurs across the whole of society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion, class, or lifestyle and income.
  • Crimes committed in the name of ‘honour’, forced marriage and female genital mutilation are also considered acts of domestic abuse.
  • Domestic violence and abuse can also happen to people with mental health issues, physical or sensory impairment, learning difficulties and older people who are being cared for by family members or partners

If you recognise this in yourself or someone close to you then help is available without judgement. 

Can I get help?

YES! If you would like to talk to someone about your behaviour there are people who can help you. They are there for you to talk to them, and if appropriate, offer you support. In Coventry we provide an 18 week programme called choose 2 change. It is provided through Relate. To find out more please call freephone 0800 111 4998 or use the contact button on this website.

If you live outside of Coventry there are a number of services available in the West Midlands. Programmes available are:

Why should I address my abusive behaviour?

You may be convicted of a criminal offence. 

Victims can also seek assistance through the civil courts. There are a number of ways victims can gain protection this way:

  • Non-molestation orders – for protection from all forms of violence and abuse
  • You may to subject to a Domestic Violence Protection Order or Notice.
  • Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) and Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) were rolled out across all 43 police forces in England Wales from 8 March 2014. DVPOs are a civil order that fills a “gap” inproviding protection to victims by enabling the police and magistrates’ courts to put in place protective measures in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident where there is insufficient evidence to charge a perpetrator and provide protection to a victim via bail conditions.

  • A DVPN is an emergency non-molestation and eviction notice which can be issued by the police, when attending to a domestic abuse incident, to a perpetrator. Because the DVPN is a police-issued notice, it is effective from the time of issue, thereby giving the victim the immediate support they require in such a situation. Within 48 hours of the DVPN being served on the perpetrator, an application by police to a magistrates’ court for a DVPO must be heard. A DVPO can prevent the perpetrator from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days. This allows the victim a degree of breathing space to consider their options with the help of a support agency. Both the DVPN and DVPO contain a condition prohibiting the perpetrator from molesting the victim.

What impact might it have on my children?

  • Many children are affected by domestic violence and abuse, even if they don’t see the abuse take place
  • Protecting children from the effects of an abusive relationship are always a priority for the police, the local authority and the courts.

Children learn from their environments and their parents. Because of their experiences, they can grow up thinking that a certain situation (e.g. domestic abuse) is normal.

Normalising such behaviour for children is dangerous, as they may take their experiences with them through to adult life.

Young people experiencing domestic violence and abuse (either directly or indirectly) can become withdrawn, violent, and lose confidence in themselves. The experiences can also have a significant emotional impact on them. The Royal College of Psychiatrists states that children or young people might:

  • become anxious or depressed
  • have difficulty sleeping
  • have nightmares or flashbacks
  • be easily startled
  • complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches
  • start to wet their bed
  • have temper tantrums
  • behave as though they are much younger than they are
  • have problems with school
  • become aggressive or they may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people
  • have a lowered sense of self-worth
  • begin to play truant or start to use alcohol or drugs
  • begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves
  • develop an eating disorder

Children may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless or confused.

In what ways can children witness domestic violence and abuse?

Children can ‘witness’ domestic violence in a many different ways. They may be:

  • Caught in the middle of an incident as they want to try and stop it
  • In the room next door and hear the abuse or see any resulting injuries
  • Needed to help the victim tend to any injuries
  • Forced to stay in one room or may not be allowed to play
  • Forced to witness sexual abuse
  • Forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim

Remember – children are at risk of harm if they are attempting to protect one of their parents from the other.

The risks of harm to children exposed to domestic violence and abuse have now been recognised. An amendment to the definition of harm in the Children Act 1989 now includes ‘impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another’ (Adoption and Children Act, 2002).

This reflects that young people living with domestic violence and abuse are over-represented among those referred to statutory children and families teams with concerns about child abuse and neglect. It also represents the fact that they can account for around two thirds of cases seen at child protection conferences.

What help is available for my children?

There are a number of different forms of help available for your children, ranging from direct support to counselling services. Coventry Haven Women's Aid run the Wish Project designed to support children and young people who have been victims of domestic abuse.

Children are vulnerable and as such, a priority for all of us. As long as parents have the interests and safety of their children as a priority – Social Services and other agencies can offer support in many ways.

They help children deal with the issues raised by living within an abusive household. If the police have become involved they will work with Social Services when there is a significant concern that a child may be affected by domestic violence and abuse.

Will my children be taken away from me?

In general any involvement by Social Services or West Midlands Police is based on the best interests of the children involved, and as long as parents put the interests and safety of their children as a priority, then the professional group will help you to reduce any risk and support you all through this difficult period.