The RCN is committed to raising health care professionals understanding of how domestic violence impacts on lives
Domestic abuse describes a continuum of behaviour ranging from verbal abuse, threats and intimidation, manipulative behaviour, physical and sexual assault, through to rape and homicide.
It is a complex issue that all health care professionals should have some understanding about. They should be aware of who is affected, how individual victims may present in differing health care settings, how the subject could be approached, and most importantly what professionals can do to help and support victims of abuse.
The term Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is also often used interchangeably with domestic abuse, as a collective term used to describe domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking. The term domestic abuse has been used throughout this resource which discusses all types of abuse within a domestic setting and not just between partners or ex partners.
Domestic violence and abuse:
The cross-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.”
Domestic abuse is essentially a pattern of behaviour not generally limited to a one-off incident. The key differences between it and other forms of abuse are: