Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence and abuse is defined as 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 can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional.

Anyone can experience or perpetrate violence and abuse. However, Domestic Abuse remains a gendered issue, with the majority of victim and survivors being women, and the majority of perpetrators being men. 

The only person to blame for the abusive behaviour is the perpetrator. The only person who can stop the abusive behaviour is the perpetrator. It is therefore never appropriate to suggest ‘couple’s counselling’, because the abuse is not a ‘relationship’ problem. It is the perpetrator’s abusive behaviour that is the problem.

A perpetrator of abuse doesn’t ‘look’ a certain way. Anyone, of any wealth, from any background, could be a perpetrator of domestic abuse. There is not one particular way that a perpetrator behaves so that you are be able to ‘spot’ their abusive behaviour, but there are certain indicators that should encourage you to have a discussion with the victim of the abuse, in a safe environment, separately from the suspected perpetrator. 

A perpetrator of abuse will use a variety of techniques and behaviours in order to control their partner or family member. The perpetrator is completely in control of their actions and makes a choice to be abusive. The perpetrator may use excuses to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, such as ‘it’s only when I drink’ or ‘she winds me up’. The victim may also use these excuses to justify their partner’s or family member’s behaviour.

Here are some possible indicators that abuse may be occurring. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and where you have a gut instinct that abuse is taking place, don’t ignore it:

  • Are there injuries?

  • Is the suspected perpetrator jealous and possessive?

  • Do they humiliate or insult their partner/family member in front of you/others?

  • Do they cut their partner/family member off from family and friends and try to isolate them? Do they prevent them from attending your appointments?

  • Are they charming one minute and abusive the next? Do they have sudden changes of mood, like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

  • Do they control their partner’s/family member’s life, e.g. their money, who they see, what they should wear?

  • Do they allow their partner/family member to speak at your appointments?

  • Are you ever allowed to speak to the partner/family member on their own?

  • Do they monitor their partner’s/family member’s movements?

  • Does the suspected perpetrator consistently call/text whilst your appointment is taking place?

  • Do they constantly criticise their partner/family member?

  • Do they blame their partner/family member for the abuse?

  • Do they verbally abuse their partner/family member?

  • Do they use anger and intimidation to frighten their partner/family member and make them comply with demands?

  • Do they tell their partner/family member they are useless and couldn’t cope without the suspected perpetrator?

  • Has the suspected perpetrator threatened to hurt their partner/family member or people close to them if they leave?

  • Does the partner/family member change their behaviour to avoid making the suspected perpetrator angry?

  • Do they force their partner/family member to have sex?

Possible indicators of domestic abuse

Support and Resources



If a child is at immediate risk of significant harm, please dial 999.

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Risk Matrix

Use the Barnardo's Domestic Violence Risk Matrix to assess the risks to children.

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Make a referral

Please call or email and follow up with a Multi-agency Referral Form.

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Use the London procedures on safeguarding children affected by domestic abuse to aid your decision-making. 

London Procedures

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The Gaia Centre offers a range of services to those experiencing any form of gender-based violence in Lambeth. 

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For further support and Guidance, contact Lambeth's Violence Against Women and Girls Programme Manager. 

Support for Perpetrators

Contact Respect's Helpline 

for support and guidance.