Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or background.  

The statutory definition of domestic abuse is: 

“The abusive behaviour of one person towards another where they are personally connected and each is aged 16 or over.” 

This could be a single incident or a course of conduct. 

Abusive behaviour includes: physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, emotional abuse, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, psychological, emotional or other abuse. 

Children related to the victim or perpetrator who see, hear or otherwise experience the effects of abuse are also recognised as victims. 

This statutory definition comes from the landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and emphasises that domestic abuse includes not only physical violence, but other forms of abuse such as coercive or controlling behaviour and economic abuse.  Domestic abuse can occur between two people who are intimate partners, ex-partners, family members or individuals who share parental responsibility for a child. The victim/survivor and perpetrator do not have to live in the same household and post separation abuse is now recognised.  

Domestic abuse is not itself a specific criminal offence, but related offences include controlling or coercive behaviour, harassment, stalking, criminal damage, physical assault, rape and murder. 

Further information can be found in the Home Office Domestic Abuse Statutory Guidance.  



Domestic abuse affects us all 

One in four women and one in six/seven men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales in 2019-2020.1

The number of police incidents related to domestic abuse rose by 6% in the year ending March 2021 and there was a 22% increase in people contacting the National Domestic Abuse Helpline in England2.

An estimated 7% of children aged 10-15 lived with an adult experiencing domestic abuse between March 2017-193.

1. Domestic abuse prevalence and trends, England and Wales: year ending March 2020
2. Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2021
3. Childhood vulnerability to victimisation in England and Wales: year ending March 2017 to year ending March 2019