What is Domestic Abuse?

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Domestic abuse is perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner and can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual; it can include controlling, coercive, threatening or violent behaviour, gaslighting or stalking. Domestic abuse includes ‘honour based’ violence.

Physical violence is only one aspect of domestic abuse and an abuser’s behaviour can vary, from being brutal and degrading to small actions that leave you humiliated. For many women who live with domestic abuse there will be no scars, bruises or broken bones, but for some it can take their life.

Most domestic abuse is carried out by men against women, however it can happen in any relationship. Men can be victims of domestic abuse; women can perpetrate domestic abuse against their partners in same sex relationships; domestic abuse happens in relationships regardless of age, race or ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation or disability. Fife Women’s Aid is here to support all women who have experienced domestic abuse.

All types of abuse are serious. No one deserves to experience any kind of abuse. If you have concerns about your relationship, please contact us on our Freephone number 0808 802 5555.

Some of the common warning signs of each type of abuse are set out below.

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Emotional / Verbal Abuse

  • Calling you names and putting you down
  • Refusing to trust you and acting jealously or accusing you of cheating
  • Trying to stop you from seeing family or friends
  • Demanding that you tell him where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
  • Putting rules in place about how you do things, for example how long you have to answer calls or texts
  • Trapping you in your home and stopping you from leaving
  • Making threats to hurt you, your children or others you care about including pets
  • Giving you the silent treatment
  • Blaming you for the way he behaves or saying that you are making it up
  • Cheating on you
  • Telling you what to wear, whether you can wear makeup or not
  • Telling you that you can’t do anything right
  • Threatening that he will have the children taken from you if you leave
  • Telling you that you have no rights because of your immigration status and that you will be deported
  • Making you feel like a bad parent, telling the children not to listen to you
  • Threatening to hurt himself

Physical Abuse

  • Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
  • Stopping you from sleeping
  • Controlling what you eat
  • Hurting you with objects or weapons; for example throwing the remote control at you or threatening you with scissors
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Harming your children, family or pets

Coercive Control

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or intimidating you

Financial Abuse

  • Giving you money and making you tell him how you have spent it
  • Not letting you have any access to the bank account or money
  • Stopping you from working
  • Taking out debt in your name or making you take on debt for him
  • Not giving you money towards household bills when he lives with you
  • Not paying maintenance for children when the relationship has ended

Sexual Abuse and Coercion

  • Calling you a slut, whore or other names
  • Pressuring you into having sex or performing sexual acts
  • Making you feel guilty or like you owe him sex through threats or force
  • Hurting you with objects during sex
  • Involving other people in sexual activities with you without your consent
  • Ignoring you if you say you don’t want to have sex
  • Forcing you to watch pornography or to participate in the making of it
  • Withholding or controlling your access to contraception and protection
  • Threatening to share intimate images of you with your friends, family, community or online

Digital Abuse

  • Watching your social media accounts i.e. keeping track of who likes your posts, who messages you
  • Sending you negative or insulting messages
  • Using technology to track your movements and activities
  • Sending you explicit pictures without your consent and demanding you send them in return
  • Constantly texting you and making you feel you can’t be separated from your phone
  • Insisting that you give them your passwords to your email or your social media accounts


  • two or more incidents of receiving obscene or threatening unwanted letters, emails, text messages or phone calls
  • having obscene or threatening information about you placed on the internet
  • waiting or loitering around your home or workplace
  • following or watching you