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11 December 2023 | Comment | Article by Victoria Cannon

The signs of domestic abuse

Shocking statistics recently released by The Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that an estimated 1.4 million women in the UK experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2023. This is despite the numerous attempts of media campaigns to address the issue, including “Ask for Angela”, an initiative which provides support for victims on a night out from hospitality staff, and in some cases, an exit plan from a venue to escape from the perpetrator.

Victoria Cannon, Partner and family law specialist provides her insight into domestic abuse and outlines the signs to look for if someone is suffering from an abusive relationship as well as how we can help.

Domestic abuse data

The police records correlate with the reports, showing that 889,918 domestic abuse-related crimes were recorded in England and Wales (excluding Devon and Cornwall Police) in the year ending March 2023; an increase from 889,311 records in 2022 and continues the incremental increasing levels since records began. Arrests relating to domestic abuse are also increasing, with the same ONS report stating that the police made 36.3 arrests per 100 domestic abuse-related reported crimes in the year ending March 2023; up from 29.6 in the year ending March 2022 (in the 41 police forces that supplied offence data and complete arrests data in both years).

What are the signs of domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse affects countless individuals across the world and can manifest in various forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, or financial abuse. Recognising the signs of domestic abuse is crucial and in offering support to those who may be experiencing it, may be the first step of helping victims break the cycle of abuse.

Physical signs

Unexplained or consistent injuries: Frequent bruises, cuts, or broken bones that are inadequately explained, attributed to accidents or in the same place.

Behavioural changes

Isolation: Victims may become increasingly isolated from friends, family, or social activities as the abuser seeks to control their interactions.

Emotional signs

Low self-esteem or mood swings: Victims of domestic abuse often suffer from a diminished sense of self-worth due to the constant belittlement and criticism from the abuser.

Control tactics

Overly controlling partner: An abusive partner may exhibit controlling behaviours, such as monitoring the victim’s every move, limiting their access to finances, or dictating their clothing choices.

Financial control

Limited access to resources: An abuser may control the victim’s finances, restricting access to money and resources.

There are trigger points throughout the year when domestic abuse increases. They can include rugby, football and other sports tournaments, holiday periods, such as Easter and Christmas, when families spend more time together.

Identifying the signs of domestic abuse is the first step towards offering help and support to those in need. If you suspect someone is a victim of domestic abuse, it is essential to approach the situation with empathy and sensitivity. Encourage open communication and provide information about available support services, such as shelters, hotlines, or counselling. By raising awareness and actively supporting those affected, we can contribute to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and fostering safer, healthier relationships.

Domestic abuse family lawyers

At Hugh James, our family solicitors are passionate about providing early, invaluable advice to victims of domestic abuse to reduce and eradicate the problem. We also work collaboratively with domestic abuse organisations and charities to find the best options for our clients.

We offer a seamless confidential service for victims of domestic abuse. Early interaction from our dedicated family solicitors enables our clients to consider their options and take steps to prevent domestic abuse and ensure that they can take the necessary steps to break the cycle of abuse.

We offer a range of options and support depending upon the severity of the case. We can provide warning letters to perpetrators, and hands-on advice to our clients, which can often, involve a personal referral to a domestic abuse organisation, or signposting for counselling.

In more severe cases, we offer an emergency service to obtain non-molestation orders and occupation orders. These orders are injunctions and provide immediate relief for victims and ensure that if a perpetrator breaches an order that the police can invoke an arrest immediately.

We do not stop there. We may also advise our clients that an order needs to be sought for assistance with mortgage or rental payments, which can be achieved through the process in certain cases. We will also provide sound advice in relation to child contact, so that the perpetrator does not come into contact with a victim and if required, advice upon financial separation.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with a member of our team, do not hesitate to contact us today.

Author bio

Victoria Cannon


Throughout her career spanning over 19 years in family law, Victoria Cannon has amassed extensive experience in advising business owners on safeguarding their enterprises during divorce proceedings and minimising disruption to their business.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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