Mothers Unite UK

Domestic and child abuse in Family Court

Domestic abuse
What is domestic abuse?

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence 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.’

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

  • physical abuse: pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking and using weapons
  • sexual abuse: forcing or pressuring someone to have sex (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping someone or making them watch pornography
  • financial abuse: taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work
  • emotional abuse / coercive control: repeatedly making someone feel bad or scared, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone, playing mind games. Coercive control is now a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015
  • digital / online abuse: using technology to further isolate, humiliate or control someone
  • honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Abusive Personality types
There are a variety of personality disorders who are likely to be abusive, the main being sociopath and narcissist. They are both part of the “Cluster B” group (comprised of narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial, and borderline personality disorders).
The signs can be hard to spot and its only when you're deeply in a relationship it starts to become clear..and by then they have broken down your self-esteem so you doubt yourself and whether they are right about being 'too sensitive', and that time they hit you was a one off and due to the stress in their lives. You want to believe it won't happen again. It will. These people want to destroy you. Both types lack empathy. Narcissists are unable to see things from anothers point of view and sociopaths can see how they effect others but just don’t care. Educating yourself on these types and behaviour will help you protect yourself from further abuse, especially if you have children and the abuser is using the children to continue the abuse. There are many resources online. Here are few links to get you started

Warning signs of a domestic abuser

Narcissists vs. Sociopaths: The Similarities & Differences

Narcissist or Sociopath? Similarities, Differences and Signs

Going 'grey rock'
If you can't go no contact, one of the best ways to deal with an abusive person is a technique called 'grey rock'. The idea is to become as interesting as a grey rock. You will stop being a source of supply for their drama and attention, and they will eventually leave you alone.
Do not respond with any emotion when they try to provoke you.  They only understand you by the level of your reaction, so you can beat them at their game by not reacting. If you do have to have any contact, keep to fact that are mundane and boring. Keep it brief. Just an 'Ok' might be enough. They will try to press your buttons so don't let them.
This takes away the fuel you could provide for their need to create drama and chaos. They will eventually find there is nothing interesting about you or your children. If they blame you for everything just agree or ignore. Its not easy but as you practise you find it becomes second nature. If you find yourself reacting, you know they've pressed your buttons and are trying to get a reaction. Next time you know what to do. You don't have to become grey in other areas of your life, just to the abusive person.
They are expert at 'guilt-tripping' and won't care about making you feel guilty so that you'll try to justify or defend yourself . Don't fall into the trap. You are trying to get them to lose interest in you.
The sociopath/psychopath/narcissist has no values and  doesn’t understand what is valuable to us unless we show him. He is addicted to power and his power is acquired by gaining access to our emotions. Be a rock, blend into the background and you will fade away as his supply of drama.

Victim blaming is a problem throughout the UK. An average of two women a week are killed by their current of former partner.
Public institutions that should be protecting vulnerable women and children are continuing to fail them. We live in a culture that, rather than holding perpetrators of abuse accountable,  blames victims for their abuse, endlessly asking "why doesn't she leave?", as if staying, not the violence, is the real problem.
Leaving is not that simple. A third of women continue to experience violence after they have ended the relationship. Many find that any help in civil cases related to divorce and contact rights are now gone, increasing the difficulty of leaving an abusive partner.

If you have problems as a result of allowing contact or contact being ordered, you can seek some protection from the courts:

Non-molestation Order
This order prevents your ex-partner from using or threatening violence against you (which of course is against the law anyway), and also stops them harassing or pestering you. [Note that breach of a non-molestation order is now a criminal offence, as well as an act that can be dealt with by the civil courts.]

Occupation Order
This can be used to regulate who lives in your family home (and remove an abusive partner). However it can also be used to prevent the abuser entering the area surrounding your home, in order to keep them away from your home.

Restraining Order
This order prevents someone from carrying out a particular, specified action. A non-molestation is a type of restraining order. However you may also be given other types of restraining orders if necessary.

Where to go for help

Womens Aid

24-hour National Domestic Violence
Freephone Helpline

0808 2000 247

For children and young people witnessing domestic violence in the home


Help if you’re homeless: domestic abuse

Coercive or controlling behaviour now a crime

Statutory guidance framework: controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship

Victim Blaming-Huff Post Articles illustrating victim blaming

Womens Aid-Challenging the Myths