What is Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence and abuse

The government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

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
  • emotional

Types of abuse


This can include hitting, punching, kicking, spitting, pushing, grabbing, grabbing by the hair, tripping up, knives, drowning, suffocating, strangling, murder.

Emotional and Psychological

This can include fear, threats, time limits, making you feel you’re going mad, making you feel you can’t live without them, no-one else will ever want you, makes you feel worthless. Playing the blame game – It’s all your fault. Isolation, hiding the car keys. Locking you in the house, supposedly accidentally. Hide the buggy, so you can’t go out with your baby or toddler. Threatening to commit suicide or self-harm.


This can include marital rape, withholding sex, sex on demand, insults during sex, forced oral, no intimacy, always with the woman face down.


This can include keeping a tight control over the money, withholding money, running up debts, using it to know where you’ve gone, having a joint account, checking up on bank statements, controlling the child support account card.


This can include calling of names, not calling people by their actual name, using derogatory names, pet names can be abusive, constant undermining.


A victim said, “He never hit me or physically attacked me, but he ruled and controlled me with fear.” Abuse does not have to include any violence. Perpetrators may have rules, but those rules are constantly changing

Spiritual Abuse

We are a Christian organisation and are aware that sadly, victims of domestic abuse are often also victims of spiritual abuse. This can either be from the perpetrator, or from the church itself. We call this spiritual abuse. Victims of domestic abuse are sadly sometimes told that they can’t divorce their husband because it is breaking the marriage covenant. The reality is that the marriage covenant is broken by the abuse.

It is not just breaking the marriage vows, it is breaking the law.” (quote from Brian Tobin of Iceni)

It is a sad fact that Domestic Abuse is not only found in secular society but is equally prevalent in the Church. Because of our lack of understanding we can be guilty of adding Spiritual Abuse, for example misinterpreting the bible to control and terrorise the victim, or using religious teaching to justify abuse.

Where both the victim and the perpetrator attend church the victim is often not believed when she discloses because the perpetrator does not show any abusive tendencies in church.

If you are a church leader, please understand that it is not uncommon for a perpetrator to deceive and manipulate people in the church. Although Christians are called to be loving and kind, this does not mean we are to ignore sinful behaviour. A perpetrator often knows exactly what to say or do in order to get the church ‘on his side’.