Domestic violence, also referred to as domestic abuse, can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality. It can include emotional, psychological, physical, financial and sexual abuse in couple relationships (current or previous) or between family members. It can be an individual incident, or a pattern of incidents, but always involves one person having control and power over another. 

The aim of this sort of abuse is to isolate someone and make them subordinate and/or dependant on the abuser in some way. They can convince the person that they are to blame for the abuse and that they are unable to leave which means that on average there are 35 incidents of abuse before someone will report the perpetrator. 

Examples of relationship abuse: 

  • Keeping someone isolated from their friends and family 
  • Checking through someone's phone or computer for messages from others 
  • Talking in a derogatory way to a partner or family member 
  • Telling someone what they can/can't wear and where they can/can't go and who they can/can't spend time with 
  • Taking control of someone's finances without their consent or without their best interests in mind 
  • Physical abuse of any kind, including rape
  • Stalking behaviour such as following someone, repeatedly contacting them against their wishes etc. 

Current statistics 

  • Domestic abuse is likely to affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime 
  • Domestic abuse leads to, on average, 100 women and 30 men being murdered each year 
  • A third of domestic violence and abuse against women starts during pregnancy. If the relationship is already abusive, it can get worse 

If you're worried someone might see you have been on this page, find out how to cover your tracks online. 

Relationship abuse is contrary to the University’s Harassment and Bullying Procedure

Find out more 


Surrey Police provide detailed information on domestic abuse. 

NHS Choices provide information on how to get help and support.

Galop have further information about LGBT+ relationship abuse support. 

Safer Places offers a range of different services for people of all genders and sexualities.

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