Domestic abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those who are 'personally connected' to one another, and aged 16 or over.

Types of abuse

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  • Physical abuse
    • Kicking, punching, pinching, slapping, dragging, scratching, choking, biting, pushing, stabbing burning, scalding, poisoning, strangling (including the use of non-fatal strangulation)
    • Using or threatening to use weapons
    • Acting violently towards your family members or pets
    • Causing you physical harm by denying access to medical aids or equipment
    • Harming you whilst performing ‘care’ duties (especially relevant for disabled victims) including force feeding, withdrawal of medicine or over-medication.
  • Creating isolation
    • Limiting outside involvement such as family, friends and work colleagues
    • Not allowing any activity outside the home that does not include her or him
    • Constant checking up on your whereabouts .
  • Verbal abuse
    • Verbally humiliating you (both in private or around others)
    • Yelling and shouting at you
    • Making fun of/laughing at you
    • Blaming you for their failures
    • Mocking your characteristics (for example, disability, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance)
    • Mocking your “sexual performance” including in front of friends, work colleagues and on social media.
  • Using threats
    • Threatening to use violence against you, your family members or pets
    • Threatening to use weapons
    • Threatening to enlist family members/friends to attack you
    • Destroying your personal and treasured items
    • Threatening to remove your children and/or telling you that you will never see them again or telling you that they will take them abroad without your permission
    • Threatening to get you institutionalised/committed
    • Threatening to reveal or publish private information (including threatening to publicise your sexuality, if this is not widely known).
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
    • Withholding affection and giving you ‘the silent treatment’ as a means of hurting you 
    • Turning your children and friends against you
    • Stopping you from seeing friends or relatives
    • Repeatedly belittling and insulting you, including in front of others
    • Depriving you of sleep by keeping you awake/stopping you sleeping
    • Wilfully preventing you from seeing your children
    • Manipulating your anxieties or beliefs
    • Telling you that you are to blame for the abuse and injuries 
    • Persuading you to doubt your own sanity or mind (including “Gaslighting”)
    • Telling you that you are not a “real” mother/father
    • Denying the abuse committed against you ever happened or trying to minimise it
    • Telling you that your bruises, cuts and injuries are not serious
    • Falsely accusing you of having affairs and/or constantly looking at other people
    • Mocking your “sexual performance” including in front of others.
  • Using power and control
    • Telling you what to do and expecting you to obey
    • Telling you that you will never see your children again if you leave
    • Using force to maintain power and control
    • Not accepting responsibility for their abusive behaviour/s 
    • Continually and purposefully breaching family court orders
    • Forced marriage.
  • Economic/financial abuse
    • Totally controlling your/the family’s income
    • Not allowing you to spend any money unless they ‘permit’ you to do so
    • Making you account for every spend
    • Running up bills such as credit/store cards in your name
    • Purposely defaulting on payments
    • Setting up false companies, accounts or credit cards with your details
    • Deliberately forcing you to go back to the family courts as a means of costing you additional legal fees
    • Refusing to contribute to household income
    • Interfering with or preventing you from regularising your immigration status so you are economically dependent on the perpetrator
    • Preventing you from claiming welfare benefits, force someone to commit benefit fraud or misappropriating such benefits
    • Interfering with your education, training, or employment
    • Not allowing you access to mobile phone/car/utilities
    • Damaging your property
    • Denying you food or only allowing you to eat a particular type of food.
  • Sexual abuse
    • Sexual harassing and pressuring you to engage in sexual acts, including with other people
    • Using sexually degrading language
    • Rape
    • Forcing you to have sex (or commit a sexual act) against your will
    • Making unwanted sexual contact and demands
    • Forcing you to make or watch pornography
    • Deliberately hurting you during sex
    • Pressurising or tricking you into having unsafe sex
    • Telling you that they have used contraception when they have deliberately not.
  • Making false allegations
    • Telling the police, friends, families, your employer and others (or threatening to) that you are the one committing the domestic abuse when it is them that is abusing you
    • Making false allegations that you have committed a crime as a means of discouraging you from disclosing.
  • Stalking
    • Following you to and from work
    • Checking your email and phone calls
    • Regularly sending unwanted gifts
    • Making unwanted or malicious communication.
  • Social media
    • Stalking you online
    • Placing false and malicious information about you on your or others’ social media
    • ‘Trolling’ you
    • Monitoring or controlling your email and phone calls (including work email and calls)
    • Circulating private sexual photographs and films without your consent ("revenge porn")
    • Hacking into, monitoring or controlling email accounts, social media profiles and phone calls
    • Blocking you from using online accounts, responding as you, or creating false online accounts
    • Using spyware or GPS locators on items such as phones, computers, wearable technology, cars, motorbikes and pets
    • Hacking internet enabled devices such as PlayStations or iPads to gain access to accounts or trace information such as your location
    • Using personal devices such as smart watches or smart home devices (such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home Hubs) or hidden cameras to monitor, control or frighten you
    • Using social media to intimidate you.
  • Coercive or controlling behaviour
    • Isolating you from your friends and family
    • Depriving you of your basic needs
    • Monitoring your time
    • Monitoring your online communication tools or using spyware
    • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what to wear and when you can sleep
    • Depriving you access to support services, such as specialist  support or medical services
    • Repeatedly putting you down such as telling you that you are worthless
    • Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise you
    • Forcing you to take part in criminal activity
    • Neglecting or abusing children to encourage you to self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities
    • Criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods)
    • Preventing you from having access to transport or from working
    • Controlling or monitoring your daily activities, including making you account for your time, dictating what you can wear, when you can eat and so on
    • Isolating you from family and friends, intercepting messages or phone calls or refusing to interpret
    • Intentionally undermining your role as a partner, spouse or parent
    • Preventing you from taking medication or over-medicating you, or preventing you from accessing health or social care (especially relevant for victims with disabilities or long-term health conditions)
    • Using substances to control you by making you dependent on them.

    More information

    For more details on coercive and controlling behaviour, please visit the Women's Aid website.

  • Honour-based abuse

    Honour-based abuse is any type of abuse committed against a person to protect or defend the perceived 'honour' of a family or community.

    More information

    Further details about honour-based abuse is available on the Crown Prosecution Service website.

People are personally connected if they are:

  • Married or have been married to each other
  • Civil partners of each other (or previously entered into a civil partnership arrangement)
  • Engaged or previously engaged
  • Currently or previously in an intimate relationship with each other
  • Sharing or have previously shared a parental relationship in relation to the same child/children
  • Relatives

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 also recognises that children can be victims of domestic abuse in their own right if they "see, hear, or experience the effects of the abuse" and they are "related to" the person/persons being abused or the person/persons acting abusively. 

How to access support

If there is an immediate risk or emergency please contact the Police by:

  • By dialling 999 on a phone
  • Text to 999 (you will need to text ‘register’ to 999 first)
  • By dialling 18000 on a textphone

If you are not at immediate risk of harm, contact Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline.

For advice, or if you are unsure of what support you need, contact Refuge Hertfordshire Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy (IDVA) Service

If you need to flee or access refuge, contact Safer Places.

If you are concerned about your own behaviour, or that of someone you know

We understand that it may be difficult to acknowledge or recognise if you, or someone you know is acting, or has acted abusively. We have put together the following checklist to help you recognise abusive behaviours: 

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  • Mental or emotional abuse

    If you are being mentally or emotionally abusive towards your partner or family member, you might be:

    • Criticising
    • Using language designed to humiliate
    • Blaming
    • Intimidating and threatening
    • Destroying personal belongings
    • Telling them that they are mad
    • Telling them that you are not being abusive.
  • Threatening behaviours

    This can include making threats to:

    • Take the children away yourself
    • Have the children taken away by Social Care or other people
    • Have your victim deported
    • Have your victim sectioned
    • Abuse your victim’s children, family, friends or pets
    • Kill someone
    • Commit suicide
    • Mutilate your victim or their loved ones
    • Stalk your victim (any of which could be in person, via phone call, email or text message).
  • Intimidation and isolation

    It could be you:

    • Repeatedly criticise your victim
    • Tell your victim that they are ugly / worthless / useless
    • Prevent your victim from having contact with family and friends
    • Humiliate your victim in front of others
    • Give your victim a curfew
    • Stop or monitor your victim’s phone calls.
  • Psychological abuse

    You may:

    • Act jealously
    • Blame your victim for causing the abuse
    • Lie to your victim
    • Manipulate your victim to do as you want
    • Ignore your victim
    • Undermine or confuse your victim
    • Tell your victim that they are losing their mind.
  • Financial abuse

    Being financially abusive may include:

    • Building up debt in your victim’s name
    • Withholding money from your victim
    • Stealing money from your victim
    • Limiting or preventing your victim from having access to money
    • Not letting your victim work
    • Using family money for alcohol / drugs
    • Claiming and keeping your victim’s benefits
    • Selling your victim’s possessions
    • Not paying child support
    • Refusing to pay bills
    • Forcing your victim to earn money for you / another person
    • Threatening to report to your victim to the Benefits Agency or other authorities.
  • Sexual abuse

    Are you asking your victim to do sexual things in return for meeting their basic needs and requirements? Whether in a relationship or not, if someone does not want to have sex, they do not have to. If you are forcing someone against their will, then you are being abusive. Some forms of sexual abuse can include: 

    • Rape
    • Forcing someone to engage in sexual acts
    • Degrading treatment
    • Sexual name-calling
    • Forcing someone to prostitute themselves
    • Making someone wear clothes that they haven’t chosen
    • Forcing someone to take part in or look at pornographic images
    • Forcing someone to have sexual relationships with other people.
  • Violence/physical abuse

    You may be directing violence and physical abuse at your victim, or at their family, friends or pets. An example of this is:

    • Hitting / punching / kicking / shoving
    • Spitting
    • Strangling
    • Pulling hair
    • Making angry or physical threats
    • Biting
    • Burning
    • Using weapons
    • Forcing someone to use drugs and / or alcohol
    • Depriving someone of sleep
    • Hurting a pet
    • Invading other’s space.

If you are concerned about your own behaviour, or that of someone close to you, we would encourage you to make contact with a suitable support service, such as Respect.

How we can support you

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, we can help you to access the support you need, and to resolve any housing-related concerns.

Contact us by calling 01442 228000 (open 8.45am to 5.15pm Monday to Thursday, and 8.45am to 4.45pm on Friday) to discuss how we can support you.

If you are a Dacorum Borough Council tenant, please ask to speak with your Tenancy Management Officer, or Supported Housing Officer if you are a tenant in one of our Supported Housing schemes.

If you need to access emergency housing to escape domestic abuse, please ask to speak to our Homelessness Prevention and Assessment Team. If you need to access this outside of working hours, call 0800 018 6050.

Specialist domestic abuse support 

We recognise that some victims of domestic abuse may benefit from additional support from ‘by and for’ services, particularly if their experience of domestic abuse is impacted by their characteristics.

‘By and for’ services are created and run by the communities or those with similar lived experiences as those they intend to support - for example, Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME), LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and more), Gypsy, Romany and Traveller.

We have included ‘by and for’ services within our more detailed directory of the specialist domestic abuse victim support services. Where local provision of ‘by and for’ services are not available or are limited within Dacorum, we have tried to include details of services that are available outside of the borough or at a national level.

For more information, please view our  Domestic Abuse Victim Support Services Directory (PDF 318KB)

Our policies

Our Domestic Abuse Policy for Residents, Tenants, Leaseholders and Members explains how we can support you if you are a victim of domestic abuse, and how we will respond if you have acted abusively.

The policy and appendices are available through the following links:

We also published an internal policy, in line with the standards recommended by the Employer's Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA), which outlines how we will support our employees who have experienced domestic abuse, and how we will respond to those who have acted abusively.

Our ongoing commitment to improving our domestic abuse response

We are working towards achieving Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation - the benchmark for how housing providers should respond to domestic abuse in the UK.

We have signed the Chartered Institute of Housing’s  Make a Stand pledge (PDF 42KB), and we are accredited by White Ribbon, which means we have met a standard in supporting ending male violence against women.

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Page Last Updated: Monday, 08 April 2024 at 11:26 AM