Frequently asked questions
Does domestic abuse happen in gay/lesbian/bisexual or transgender relationships?
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. Victims of domestic abuse can include, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The Elm Foundation works closely with a range of relevant organisations to raise awareness in the wider community and elsewhere of the impact of homophobic, transphobic and same sex domestic abuse on the lives of LGBT people. Help is here for everyone.
What are the effects of domestic abuse?
The effects of domestic abuse are wide ranging and will differ for all victims. In some cases, the impact of domestic abuse is fatal.
The obvious physical effects of domestic abuse can include, physical injury such as cuts, bruising, broken bones etc. What is often not so obvious is the emotional suffering which can occur as a direct result of domestic abuse. Such emotional suffering can have devastating effects on a victim which are prevalent in both the short and long term.
Victims of domestic abuse will experience a range of emotions, including fear, confusion, uncertainty, worry for their children, instability and anxiety all of which make it increasingly difficult to leave the relationship. Research has shown that domestic abuse causes lasting damage to a victim’s physical and mental health, affecting all areas of their lives, including work, relationships, social life, confidence and self-esteem etc. Recovering from the impact of domestic abuse is a process which can be a long and painful journey.
Why don’t they leave?
Leaving an abusive relationship is a very long and difficult process. This is made difficult for a range of reasons. If someone is experiencing domestic abuse, they may:
- Feel frightened and uncertain about what the future will hold
- Feel frightened for their children
- Feel it is in the children’s best interests to stay in the family home
- Feel ashamed and reluctant to tell or seek help
- Have such low confidence and self-esteem that making decisions is a confusing and difficult task
- Be isolated from family and friends and feel they have no one to turn to
- Be worried about financial security if they leave
- Not have information on services available
- Have received a negative response when they reached out to someone for support in the past
- Be too exhausted to take on any life changes or major decisions
- Still have feelings of love for their partner and fond memories of how things used to be
- Hope and believe that things will get better
- It is important to remember, leaving is a process and not an event.
What are the effects on children?
Domestic abuse can have adverse effects on children and young people and can be traumatic. It can impact upon all areas of life, including, health, education and the development of relationships. The effects of domestic abuse on children are wide ranging and will differ for each child. A wealth of research has identified domestic abuse as an underlying theme behind social issues such as, school dropout and exclusion, youth homelessness and young people engaging in risk taking behaviour.
How can I support a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic abuse?
If your friend or family member has trusted in you and disclosed the abuse they are experiencing, this is a very positive step. It can be difficult to know how to respond, especially if you are concerned your friend might be in danger. However, there are ways you can support your friend:
- Be there – let them know you are there for them no matter what. Keep lines of communication open and ensure they can contact you at any time.
- Do not judge – do not get frustrated with them, if they are not ready to leave the abusive situation. The decision to leave must come from them. Be there to support them with their choices.
- Reassure – your friend or family member as they may feel they are to blame for the abuse. Reassure them that it is not their fault and they do not deserve to be treated like this.
Get support – Encourage them to access support that is available. Ensure they have emergency phone numbers and contact details of organisations that can help. You or your friend can contact the Helpline on 08000 198 668.
Talk through options – talk to your friend about the abuse and explore options and choices. Try not to be judgemental if they are not ready to do anything yet.
What are the signs that you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship?
Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting/mocking/accusing/name calling/verbally threatening.
Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
Breaking trust: lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.
Harassment: following you; checking up on you; opening your mail; repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you; embarrassing you in public.
Threats: making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying our possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or a gun; threatening to kill or harm you and the children.
Physical violence: punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling.
Denial: saying the abuse doesn’t happen; saying you caused the abusive behaviour; being gentle and patient in public; crying and begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.