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Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence

Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence

Domestic abuse is the use of control by one person over another in an intimate or close family relationship; the abuse can be sexual, physical, financial, emotional or psychological.

Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off event, and is more usually a pattern of behaviour. It can be difficult to identify, especially for the person experiencing it, but it is extremely common.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of sex, age, carer responsibility, class, disability, gender identity, immigration status, ethnicity, geography or religion.

People sometimes misunderstand domestic abuse and think it is only physical violence. But domestic abuse can also include:

  • sexual
  • financial 
  • emotional
  • psychological 
  • coercive control (such as enforcing trivial demands, monitoring social contacts).

Every relationship is different and many relationships have rough patches. However, if the behaviour of a partner or family member forms a pattern of behaviour that means one person is exerting power and taking away someone’s control over their own life – this is abuse.

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is any sexual act or activity which is unwanted and which has not been consented to. Sexual violence can affect anyone, at any stage of their lives.

Any sexual act which has not been consented to can be classed as sexual violence. Sexual violence can include:

  • rape
  • sexual assault
  • child sexual abuse
  • incest
  • sexual harassment
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • trafficking
  • sexual exploitation
  • ritual abuse.

Anyone can become a victim of sexual violence, at any stage of their life. A victim may experience one incident of sexual violence or many.

There is no such thing as a typical perpetrator of sexual violence. A perpetrator may be any age and can be a man or a woman. They may be well known to the victim, an acquaintance or a complete stranger.

Letting people know

Do you think a friend or family member needs help?

Find out how to spot the signs and symptoms and support someone in need of help.

Find out more

Advice for professionals

Advice for professionals

Find information, advice and training to help you provide support to people suffering with domestic abuse, violence against women or sexual violence.

Find out more


Related links

Abuse and violence such as this is not acceptable; if you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse you are not to blame and you are not alone. Help and support is available.
Abuse and violence such as this is not acceptable; if you know someone who is, or may be, experiencing domestic violence and abuse there are things that you can do to help and people who can provide you with advice and support.

About Live Fear Free

Live Fear Free is a Welsh Government website, providing information and advice for those suffering with violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

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