Information for people who are abused

Domestic violence is usually about one person’s desire to control their partner, even if they are not aware of this themselves.

The government definition of domestic violence is ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This definition includes honour based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

Physical abuse

The most recognisable form of abuse. It can range from a slap or a shove to a black eye, cut lip, broken bone. In the most extreme cases it can result in death. Don’t underestimate what is happening to you. Over time, the violence usually gets worse.

Sexual abuse

Your partner should not use force or threats to make you have sex. They should not make you perform sexual acts with which you are uncomfortable.

Emotional abuse

Can include mental torture, blackmail, threats to disown you or kill your children. It can also be controlling – meaning you are not allowed out of the home on your own, or to make contact with your family or friends or to have access to money or obtain a job of your choice

Financial abuse

This may include your partner taking your money; stopping you from working; placing all bills and debts in your name; or monitoring how you spend money and other financial resources.

Psychological abuse

Leaving a violent partner may not end the abuse and it may get worse. Most stalkers are ex-partners. If your ex-partner is harassing you or others, this should be taken seriously.

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This is not a legal definition.

'This definition includes honour based violence and abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.’

Honour based violence

Honour based violence is normally a collective and planned crime or incident, mainly perpetrated against women and girls, by their family or their community, who act to defend their perceived honour, because they believe that the victim(s) have done something to bring shame to the family or community. (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation)

Forced marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor. (Home Office)

Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done. (National Health Service)

Domestic violence is not the victim's fault. You are not to blame and you are not alone. There are many others in your situation and help is available.

Details of the main local and national support organisations can be found in the Who can help? section on this page.

Further support available

Leeds Domestic Violence Service (LDVS)

Delivered in partnership by Leeds Women’s Aid incorporating HALT, Behind Closed Doors and Womens Health Matters.


0113 246 0401
(24-hour helpline)


LDVS delivers community and emergency accommodation-based services across the city for women, men and families experiencing domestic, sexual and honour based violence, forced marriage, harassment, stalking and coercive and controlling behaviour.

LDVS has workers specially trained to work with people from often ignored communities such as LGBT+, Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities and BME groups. LDVS also works with young people and older people and offer a range of face to face, telephone and group services, both appointment-based and drop in.

All other services and can be contacted directly through their respective websites:

Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL)

For women experiencing sexual abuse now or at any time in life.


0808 802 3344


07797 803 211



Basis Yorkshire

Information and support for females and transgender women working in the sex industry, girls experiencing child sexual exploitation, or women who have experienced CSE historically.


0113 243 0036



National Jewish Women’s Aid


0808 8010 500
(Mon – Thurs: 9.30am – 9.30pm)


The Polish Domestic Violence Helpline


0800 061 4004
(free national helpline open Wednesday, 9.30am - 2.30pm & Friday, 9.30am - 12.30pm)


Helpline manager

0127 074 7690

Network for Surviving Stalking


0808 8020 300



For information about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence

Clare’s Law or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS)


0808 2000 247


0808 801 0327

LGBT+ people

020 7704 2040

Polish speakers

0800 061 4004