Domestic abuse is often overlooked, excused or denied as abusive people often make their partners feel that problems in the relationship are their fault. This can make it very difficult for the abused person to realise that they’re in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, sex, age or socio-economic background; and the abuse does not have to be physical, it also includes emotional, financial, sexual and verbal abuse.

What you should consider doing if you’re in an abusive relationship:

  • Talk to someone you trust, like a friend, relative or neighbour. You may need to go to them in an emergency or if you have to leave your family home.

  • Make a safety plan.

  • Talk to your GP.

  • Report the abuse to your local police station – there are some court orders that could help protect you and any children you may have.


If you’re thinking of leaving your partner it’s best to contact one of the helplines below for advice on how to do so safely and try to:

  • Leave when they’re not around and if you have any children take all of them with you.

  • Take personal documents concerning you and your children such as passports, driving licence, marriage and birth certs, PPS numbers, medical cards, bank books, credit cards, court orders and any other legal and financial documents.

  • Pack clothes to last several days.

  • Pack any medicine you or your children might need.


Leaving an abusive relationship takes a great deal of strength and courage.

An abused person often faces huge obstacles, such as not being financially secure, concern for their children (custody, safety or desire to provide them with a two-parent home), isolation from family and friends, having nowhere else to go, fear of retaliation, fear of being alone, being threatened, lack of resources or information about available resources, belief that their partner can change, pres-sure to stay together from family, culture or religion, shame, guilt, and a belief that the abuse is their fault. 

Types of abuse include:

Physical: Hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing property or slapping.

Verbal: Name calling, using derogatory language or undermining you.

Emotional: Threatening you or those close to you, isolating you from family and friends, demeaning you, having to ‘walk on eggshells’ because of their mood swings/temper and controlling what you wear and who you see.

Financial: Controlling the household finances, restricting your access to money, controlling whether you work or not and insisting on all money used being accounted for – e.g. demanding receipts.

Sexual: Being forced to have sex, watching sexual behaviour or unwanted or inappropriate touching

If you are experiencing any of the above you may be in an abusive relationship. Don't underestimate what is happening to you. Over time it often gets worse and there is no excuse for it. This abuse can make you feel powerless, nervous, emotionally exhausted and indecisive, but you do have choices.