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26 April 2023

Domestic abuse

Find out more about the serious issue of domestic abuse, what it is, and the support that's available for anyone experiencing it.

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Learn more about domestic abuse Available support

Understanding domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is a serious and widespread problem that affects millions of people around the world. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexuality or socioeconomic status. But what exactly is domestic abuse and how can we recognise it?

Women's Aid define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence. It can take many forms - such as physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological abuse. It can also involve threats, isolation, manipulation, intimidation or coercion.

The shocking reality is that domestic abuse is most often conducted by the people that know us most intimately - partners, ex-partners, family members or carers. There were an estimated 2.4 million cases of domestic abuse in the UK in 2022, which equates to 1.7 million women experiencing some form of abuse. It's women that most experience domestic abuse, and men that perpetrate it.

Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person on the receiving end. They deserve respect and dignity. Experiencing domestic abuse is about power, and it can be hard to break out of an abusive relationship because the perpetrator holds the power.

The United Nations (UN) define domestic abuse as "a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner".

This guide will help you to understand more about domestic abuse, and direct you to sources of information & support, including the Bank Workers Charity who offer a range of services and help to current and former bank workers (including partners and dependents). If you're experiencing domestic abuse or know someone who is, you're not alone. There are many organisations and resources that can help you get support and safety. You have the right to live free from violence and fear.

So, let's learn more about what domestic abuse is.

Who experiences domestic abuse

Who experiences domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can affect anyone, no matter what your age, gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity or religious group, socio-economic background, disability or lifestyle. 

It can happen within relationships, within families, and even when relationships have ended. Remember, it's not the person experiencing abuse that's at fault. It can happen to any of us, and it'll often happen without us realising what's going on - that's because abusers are able to manipulate the way we see things.

While anybody can experience abuse, there are some things we know about the prevalence:

  • Women in general are more likely to experience abuse - 1 in 4 women will experience it in their lifetime.
  • Women are most likely to be killed as a result of domestic violence. Across the world in 2021, 45,000 women and girls were killed by an intimate partner or family member.
  • Safe Lives estimates that 30% of domestic abuse begins during pregnancy.
  • Disabled women are more than twice as likely to experience abuse than non-disabled women (17% vs 7%).
  • Disabled men are twice as likely to experience abuse than non-disabled men (8% vs 4%).
  • Studies suggest that between 25-40% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report one or more domestic abuse incident in their lifetime. And for trans people this increases to 28-80%.
  • 70% of recorded domestic abuse cases record no ethnicity data. We do however know that there are cultural differences which may affect perceptions and responses to domestic abuse which means that abuse goes unreported.
Challenging the myths of domestic abuse

Types of domestic abuse

Types of domestic abuse

We most often associate domestic abuse with physical violence. But domestic abuse encompasses a wider range of behaviours and actions that maintain power and control over someone.

Some examples of domestic abuse are:

  • Physical violence - Hitting, kicking, punching or choking. It can also include having things thrown at you, and other physical punishments when you disobey the abuser. 
  • Emotional abuse - Name calling, putting you down, intentionally embarrassing you in public, blaming you for the way you're being treated. Coercive control can include dictating what you're allowed to do, who you can see or speak to and threats of harm if you leave. It can also include financial control, control your use of your own property such as a phone, and depriving you of food.
  • Financial abuse - The use of money to control or influence you, limiting access to money, withholding money that is yours, controlling access to your own money or bank account.
  • Sexual abuse - Unwanted intimate contact including touching and kissing, forcing, or pressuring you to have sex against your will. It can also include refusing to use condoms or restricting access to birth control.
  • Digital abuse - Controlling your access to the outside world, tracking your online activity including stalking, harassing and bullying online, stealing or insisting you provide your passwords, bombarding you with texts and messages, or going silent and ignoring your calls.
  • Psychological abuse - Actions and words that manipulate your reality such as gaslighting, denying their actions or words despite any evidence to the contrary.
More on recognising domestic abuse Find out about gaslighting

Recognising domestic abuse

Recognising domestic abuse

As we've discussed, domestic abuse can take many forms. It involves controlling, coercive, abusive or violent treatment from someone you’re in a relationship with, have been in a relationship with, or someone who is a family member.

The abuse can be physical, psychological, verbal, sexual, emotional or financial. It might be a one-off occurrence but it’s often a series of incidents that occur over time.

It may not always be clear whether a person’s actions are abusive, and every situation is different, but there are common factors experienced by people who are in an abusive relationship. A healthy relationship should be a loving, respectful and consensual. We should feel supported, happy and free. While you may have boundaries in relationships, there shouldn't be threats of violence, or conditions attached to someone else's love and care for you.

Recognising where abuse is taking place is a crucial step in preventing and stopping it. Support is available to help you every step of the way. If you’re not sure if you are experiencing abuse, you can still access support.

Women's aid has a useful page to help you consider your relationship and to explore unhealthy relationship behaviours.

Patterns of abuse

Abuse may start early in a relationship, but because we're just starting to feel that emotional connection with a new partner, it may go unnoticed. Abuse often goes unnoticed because the abuser is manipulating our emotional state, making us feel special and wanted. A pattern that characterises abusive relationships is a cycle: 

  • Tension builds
  • An incident of violence and abuse occurs
  • A reconciliation
  • Calm
  • Repeating as tension builds again

During the first stage, there's often emotional outbursts, irritability and impatience. It leaves you feeling like you're walking on eggshells and often means we appease the abuser to try and keep the peace. 

But it's never enough, and eventually there is an incident - threats of violence, intimidation, shaming, manipulation or isolation. 

When it comes to reconciliation, the abuser may apologise, act like nothing happened or manipulate you into apologising for their actions. Nonetheless peace returns for a time before the cycle starts to repeat.

Not sure if your relationship is healthy?

The effects of domestic abuse

The effects of domestic abuse

The impact of domestic abuse can be devastating for the person experiencing the abuse, and often to those around them such as their children. It can cause physical injuries, mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), low self-esteem, substance abuse issues or suicidal thoughts. It can also affect their ability to work, study or socialise.

We also know that domestic abuse impacts mental health – and this can be short-term or long-term. Mental health effects of domestic abuse include:

  • Isolation: Feelings of being alone, shutting others out or not wanting to interact with others.
  • Depression: Depression is a common and serious medical illness that causes feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure – affecting the way you feel, think and act.
  • Anxiety: This is usually experienced as feelings of unease, worry or fear. It often affects day-to-day life.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This is a form of anxiety, resulting from frightening or traumatic experiences. You may have negative thoughts; difficulty sleeping or have trouble remembering things.

Child to parent abuse

Child to parent abuse

Child to Parent Abuse (sometimes simply referred to as CPA) is where a child of any age displays repeated abusive behaviours towards a parental figure. It's estimated that child to parent abuse arises in at least 3% of UK homes.

It causes parents to feel fearful, isolated and like they're treading on eggshells. It can force them to leave their jobs or change their routines and lifestyles. It can have a significant impact on families, including siblings.

Find out more about child to parent abuse

Getting help:

Available support:

Support & contacts

Support & contacts

There are many sources of support available to you:

Specialist services

Bank Workers Charity

Employer support

Mental health support

MHFA Badge

And remember, if you’re an Accord member and need a chat about support at work, call the helpline on 0118 934 1808.

Find more mental health related articles on our website.

Supporting a survivor of abuse

Getting support from an employer

Getting support from an employer

Domestic abuse is a workplace issue, and it may be the only escape that a survivor has in their day from abuse. So, let's talk about what support looks like at work.

  • Check for a domestic abuse policy - as this will show all the support that is available and should signpost to specialist support too
  • Giving time, space and flexibility. It may be the only time and security that someone has available to make calls for support. Managers understanding the context such as whether children are involved and giving flexibility to work around the circumstances.
  • Agreeing a safety plan such as who to contact if you don't show up to work, or what other things might be helpful for you.
  • Employers should be ready to provide support over the long term. Each situation may be different, but we know that court cases can take over a year to reach conviction, and that trauma may last for some time.
  • It's important that managers listen and be led by the survivor - they know their situation best. Our job at this point is to listen non-judgementally, present options based on the priorities of the individual and to facilitate them being able to take steps for themselves. And of course, signpost to support. It's not a manager's responsibility to tell someone to leave the situation, and it's important that support is sought to assist with leaving.

The Bank Workers Charity can help assist you finding specialist support. They can also assist with other elements of escaping abuse such as financial grants, or understanding practical support such as entitlement to benefits, or housing options. They also can help with aspects of accessing mental wellbeing support and family support.

Access the Bank Workers Charity

Lloyds Banking Group support

Lloyds Banking Group support

  • LBG’s Employee Assistance Programme (Validium): 0800 9700 100.
  • Lloyds Banking Group has a Domestic Abuse Emergency Assistance service which can help you and if necessary, your children, find a temporary place of safety in a hotel at no cost to you. The full guidance outlines all the options and support available to you (you need to be logged onto an LBG device to access these links).
  • You may be a customer of LBG too - find out the support you can access:
  • The bank also makes available all their standard wellbeing and occupational health support to help you through this period.
  • You may have access to private healthcare with Lloyds Banking Group. This can help you access additional health and wellbeing support quickly. Don't let the excess put you off using the services. Don't forget that if you do use your employer's scheme you may be entitled to claim back 50% of the excess you pay from Accord. Check if you're eligible and make a claim online. If you can't pay, discuss with your manager your circumstances.

TSB support

TSB support

  • TSB's Employee Assistance Programme: 0800 0856 348.
  • You'll find all TSB support for employees on the intranet page information on Domestic Abuse and the support available (internal TSB link). This also includes links to line manager training.
  • TSB participates in the Safe Spaces scheme. All branches are available to help survivors of domestic abuse, including helping you access support and giving you access to a private room to make calls. This is available for colleagues, customers and the public alike.
  • TSB has an emergency flee fund (internal TSB link) for customers and colleagues to help escape an abusive relationship.
  • TSB customers can access support too - check out the TSB support page covering domestic and financial abuseActions include removal from a joint account, a non-geographical sort-code and removal of additional card holders from credit cards.
  • The bank also make available all their standard wellbeing and occupational health support to help you through this period.
  • You may have access to private healthcare with TSB. This can help you access additional health and wellbeing support quickly. Don't let the excess put you off using the services. Don't forget that if you do use your employer's scheme you may be entitled to claim back 50% of the excess you pay from Accord. Check if you're eligible and make a claim online. If you can't pay, discuss with your manager your circumstances.

Getting support from Accord

Get support from Accord

We're able to help you navigate your employers' policies in wellbeing support, time off requirements and compassionate support.

Worried and need to cover your tracks

Worried and need to cover your tracks

As we've already covered in this guidance, domestic abuse is not just about physical violence. It can often include controlling behaviour such as tracking and monitoring your online activity. 

If you're scared your partner will find out you’ve been here, there are some things you can do to cover your tracks. This can help you to seek support without worrying that someone is monitoring your activity from your personal device.

One thing you may be able to do is to use a work device to seek support so that your abuser is unable to monitor or control your activity. We've included a quick exit button on this guidance page so that you can quickly hide this page, but you would still need to delete your history to prevent an abuser from being able to see your activity. You'll see these sorts of quick escape buttons on many of the support pages we mention because we know that seeking support can be dangerous.

Women's aid has produced some guidance on how you can cover your tracks from your abuser online.

Find out about covering your tracks

Support for perpetrators of domestic abuse

Support for perpetrators of domestic abuse

It's important to offer help and support to a perpetrator. This can help them recognise their abusive behaviours and to change. Below is a list of organisations who offer support and guidance to perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Debt support

Debt support

43% of workers says that being in debt makes it difficult to concentrate at work. And more than 16% of UK adults have debt problems.

Don't worry or struggle alone. Confidential expert guidance is available and on hand to help you with budgeting, managing creditors and debt management plans.

  • Get help with debt management through the Bank Workers Charity and its partners
  • The Bank Workers Charity provides guidance on debt management
  • Step change is a debt charity that can help you take control of your finances and get you back on track, offering free debt advice both online and by phone. We'd recommend talking to the Bank Workers Charity, as they work in conjunction with Step Change, giving you extra benefits 
  • Check if you may be entitled to state benefits
  • Your employer's employee assistance programme can provide you with support too - you'll find details on your intranet

Support contacts

Benefits & cash grants

Benefits & cash grants

It can be hard to know where to begin when you start looking at state benefits or financial grants. That's why the Bank Workers Charity and others have put guidance together to help you get things organised.


Financial grants

  • Check what grant schemes and other benefits are on offer from most energy companies, charities and the government. They may be able to offer support to help with energy bills for example, but even if they can't they'll be able to help you manage any debt with them
  • The Bank Workers Charity can provide you with guidance on your options and operate a one-off cash grant scheme, subject to eligibility, including helping towards the payment of energy bills up to £500
  • Ask Bill is designed to provide free and impartial advice to help you save money on your energy and water bills - they offers tips on how to reduce your utility bills, manage your money and deal with debt issues

More support

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