Domestic abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic 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. It applies to people who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called 'honour-based violence’, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • sexual
  • emotional
  • physical
  • financial

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support. It exploits their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. 

A coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or another abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.

Domestic abuse is much more widespread than many people realise and anyone from any background can suffer. Sometimes it is a one-off incident of violence or abuse, but more often it is a pattern of persistent abusive behaviour.

Help and support

We have a Domestic Abuse Outreach worker who works with medium to low-risk victims of domestic abuse. This service provides confidential, free support without judgement and can help people explore their options and take actions at a pace that is right for them.

Dacorum residents can self-refer to this service by calling 07484 934518.

Police support

If you've been the victim of abuse call 999 in an emergency. If it is not an emergency, you can call the police on 101. You'll be referred to a specialist Domestic Abuse Officer. You can also make a report to them online at

Housing support

We've signed the Chartered Institute of Housing’s  Make a Stand pledge (PDF 42KB) and have committed to take action to support people experiencing domestic abuse.

If you're looking for emergency housing in order to escape domestic abuse, you can contact our Homeless Prevention and Assessment Team on 01442 228000 and 0800 018 6050 (out of hours), via our website or email

Our policy

For further information, please see our  Domestic Abuse policy (PDF 306KB).

White Ribbon

We have achieved accreditation as a White Ribbon council, which means we have met a standard to support ending male violence against women.

Find out more about White Ribbon.

Alternative support organisations

Further advice and information (including details of confidential helplines) is available on these websites: