HandsDomestic abuse is usually the gendered abuse of a woman by a man. It has nothing to do with the perceived vulnerability of the victim, although the perpetrator will often seek to make the victim dependent and incapable of independent action or decision making.

A greater proportion of elder abuse is actually domestic abuse, and is applicable under the cross Governmental definition:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional

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 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.

It is important to recognise the reality of elder domestic abuse and respond accordingly. The issue is about the actions of the perpetrator, not the characteristics of the victim. This means that responses should not be medical or social based, but should be focused on the criminal nature of the acts. That is not to suggest that the response should automatically be prosecution, but rather that the approach should be dictated by our collective understanding of the nature and psychology of domestic abuse, including the controlling and coercive strategies that can undermine or prevent genuine choice and control by victims.

The NHS Choices website identifies the following potential signs of domestic abuse:

Emotional abuse:

Does a partner or family member ever: sillouette man in doorway

  • belittle you, or put you down?
  • blame you for the abuse or arguments?
  • deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
  • isolate you from your family and friends?
  • stop you going to college or work?
  • make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
  • tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
  • control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things? 

Man and MirrorThreats and intimidation:

Does a partner or family member ever: 

threaten to hurt or kill you?

destroy things that belong to you?

stand over you, invade your personal space?

threaten to kill themselves or the children?

read your emails, texts or letters?


Physical abuseThreatening Fist

The person abusing you may hurt you in a number of ways.

Does a partner or family member ever:

  • slap, hit or punch you?
  • push or shove you? 
  • bite or kick you?
  • burn you? 
  • choke you or hold you down?
  • throw things? 

sillouette man in doorwaySexual abuse

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, whether they're male or female. Does a partner or family member ever: 

touch you in a way you don't want to be touched?

make unwanted sexual demands?

hurt you during sex?

pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?

or pressure you to have sex?


Information source: NHS. Find out more at: www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/getting-help-for-domestic-violence/