Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below you can find a selection of answers to questions the team at Swindon Women's Aid are frequently asked.

Click on the questions below to view our answer and additional information.

What do I do if I encounter or suspect domestic abuse?

If you, or someone you know lives in Swindon and is affected by Domestic Abuse, confidential information is available from the Swindon Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline on 01793 610610. For help and advice on domestic violence services in England please call the Women’s Aid national helpline on: 0808 2000 247

Why does it happen?

All forms of domestic abuse - psychological, economic, emotional and physical - come from the abuser's desire for power and control over other family members or intimate partners. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors involved. 

Does domestic abuse only happen in certain cultures or classes?

Research shows that domestic violence is most commonly experienced by women and perpetrated by men.  Domestic abuse can occur regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability or lifestyle. Domestic abuse can also take place in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships, and can involve other family members, including children.

What is the difference between an arranged marriage and forced marriage?

Forced marriage is an abuse of a person’s human rights and cannot be justified for religious or cultural reasons. The definition of forced marriage is when someone is emotionally or financially blackmailed into getting married or is physically threatened into getting married. A forced marriage is also when an individual is unable to understand what they are consenting to or cannot give their free and full consent to the marriage.

Forced marriage is not the same as arranged marriage - a tradition in many countries and societies where both parties are introduced and go on to marry each other willingly.

My partner doesn’t hit me – so it can’t be domestic violence can it?

Domestic violence is not always physical, and that means that the signs may not be obvious. Domestic violence or abuse can involve controlling a person's contact with their friends and family (isolating them), destroying property, verbal threats in private or public, etc.

My partner hit me for the first time but was drunk - is this just a one-off ?

Many people who drink too much or take drugs are not abusive. Domestic abuse does not only happen when someone is drunk or has taken drugs.  People might try to use alcohol or drugs as an excuse, saying things like, 'I was drunk' or 'I don't remember'. Even if they really do not remember, it does not make it OK

Who is more likely to be a victim of domestic abuse?

According to police reports and research, domestic abuse is most commonly experienced by women, although men can also be victims of abuse. Domestic abuse can affect anyone of any race, religion, class or background/lifestyle, although women under the age of 30, pregnant women (30% of abuse begins or escalates during pregnancy) and those living in poverty are typically more at risk. Domestic abuse can occur at any point in a relationship; it might not start for several months or years.

My partner is smaller than me so how can I be suffering domestic abuse?

Size and stature is not reflected in someone’s abusive behaviour. Just because someone is smaller, does not mean they cannot hit you, destroy your possessions, threaten to out you to your friends and family, control your finances or belittle you in front of other.

My friend’s in a domestic abusive relationship - if it’s that bad, why won’t they leave?

There are many reasons why a victim stays in an abusive relationship. Often they are too frightened to leave; their partner may have threatened to kill them, the children or the pets. They might even have threatened to kill themselves if they go. A victim may be worried about uprooting children or having to leave them behind or having them taken into care if people find out about the abuse.  Domestic abuse also involves stalking and harassment once the relationship has ended, and leaving the relationship is one of the most risky times for a victim and their children.

What about male victims of domestic violence and abuse?

Violence, controlling and abusive behaviour can happen in male gay relationships and by women against men. Domestic violence and abuse is a crime and is unacceptable in any relationship. If you are a male and experiencing domestic violence or abuse help is available through Swindon Women’s Aid outreach service, please call  01793 864984. Alternatively you can call Mankind  01823 334244 or the MALE advice helpline on  0808 801 0327.

Does domestic abuse affect children?

The majority of children are aware or will direct witness domestic violence in the home. 90% of children are either in the same room or a nearby room. Children can experience both short term and long term cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects as a result of witnessing (hearing or seeing) domestic abuse. Children living in households where domestic abuse is taking place are deemed at being ‘at risk of harm’. 

My partner and I argued last weekend and they became violent. They promised me it wouldn’t happen again. Can I believe them?

Once a partner has started to abuse it is likely to happen again. Abuse is rarely an isolated, one-off incident. Usually it is part of a pattern of controlling behaviour that becomes worse with time.   There may be a period where the person appears to be non-abusive by being attentive, charming and helpful.  However, most abusers will abuse again, and this phase of being nice soon changes to the old pattern of controlling behaviour.

My partner can't control his temper, is this why he is violent?

Most violent and abusive people are able to control themselves not to hit or abuse their partners in public or in front of others or to cause injuries that are visible. Most violent people are abusive to their partners and children but never to anyone else.  Most people who abuse are able to function without violence in their local community, in their workplace and when having contact with other people.  Abusers are responsible for their own actions and behaving in an aggressive way or using violence is intentional.