Ask A Lawyer- What is Domestic Abuse?


Mark Peter Savage is a senior solicitor and partner at Anthony King & Co in Basildon, Essex.  Here he advises about some of the signs of abuse and how to recognise and combat them:

There is not, and can never be a good reason for anyone to be abused either physically, or emotionally. Love should come without both pain and fear, if it does not, then there is no love.

What is abuse and what can I do if I suspect I am being abused?

The easy type of abuse to recognise, is the physical abuse. The over restraint, grabbing of wrists, twisting of flesh, but far too often, so much more. The black eyes, threats, unwanted sex, the threats that , ” No one will believe you, you are mad, you will lose the kids, I will report you to social services” All attempts to control you, make you fear, preventing you from acting.

You do not have to tolerate unwanted sexual advances. There is no right to sex in a relationship, rape is non consensual sex. If you are forced to have sex against your will, it is rape. No one owns your body, it is yours, marriage or a long term relationship does not give anyone the right to co trol your body. You have the right to say no, you have the right to report him for rape. Your body, your rights.

There is no such thing as reasonable chastisement in a relationship, it is not your fault if he hits you, spits at you, threatens you. You have a right to be free and safe from physical abuse. He may apologise, say its never happened before, swear he will never lay a hand on you again, and he may not. Why take the risk? Even if you have had an almighty row, no one deserves to be hit, threatened or spat at. Chinese burns are not funny, not part of p!ay, neither is a grab or bruising of flesh, they are criminal assaults, the police should be contacted, you should have him prosecuted. You are entitled to be safe in a relationship, there are different criminal offences for different levels.of assault. Dont be a victim, take back control.

If your partner continues to pester you, sends you abusive texts, makes anonymous phone calls, this is harassment, the police have to act, report it. Do not let them dictate your life, you had the courage to leave them, make sure they get the message, if they harass you, have them prosecuted. It is a criminal offence. No one has the right to dictate your life, you are entitled to be free from control. Report an offence. Nothing is too trivial, or embarassing. I once dealt with a client who thought it appropriate to go to his ex girlfriend’s place of work and throw her panties at her new boyfriend saying, ” these are yours” he did many other things, he went to prison. She got a restraining order, he breached it, he is still in prison.

If your partner tells you what to wear, who you can see, monitors your calls, that is a criminal offence- ‘controlling and coercive behaviour’.  It is your life you live it, no one has the right to dictate to you what you should do, why put up with it? The law is there to help you, use it.

If you get your abuser prosecuted, you can get extra protection from the court by getting a restraining order, it will keep him away from you for a period of up to 5 years, or course civil injunctions are also available, but criminal sanctions are far more effective, and the police listen to victims much more than they used to. Take back control, you have nothing to lose but your shackles.


  1. Thanks for explaining how abusive texts and anonymous phone calls can be grounds for a harassment case. A good friend at work has been continuously pestered by someone from management, and she’s been getting really worried about her safety especially since he tends to call her at the most unusual time of day. I’ll be sure to advise her to look for reputable law firms that can help her file a complaint.

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  3. My daughter was recently a victim of domestic abuse, so I am happy that I read this article. I think that it is nice to know that you can get extra protection from the court by getting a restraining order, as you mentioned. I will talk to my daughter about this, but in the meantime, I will start looking for a domestic violence attorney to help us through this.

  4. I like that you addressed how there are cases of rape in marriages. You should never be forced to do something that you don’t want. If you feel like these things are occurring in your life you should get legal help.

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  13. Thanks for the tip that a person that has a partner who tells them what to wear and monitors their calls should use the law to their advantage. With that in mind, I will find a local attorney to help my friend file a divorce and charge her husband this weekend. Doing this will help her get enough compensation to start her sessions with a mental health counselor.

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