Scenario: Domestic abuse

Parveen sees Julie Gray at the counter and pops out to say hello. “Hi Julie,” she says. “How are you? I hardly seem to see you these days...”

Julie looks nervously over her shoulder. “To be honest, it’s hard to get out of the house at the moment, Parveen,” she says. “Liam doesn’t seem to like it – accuses me of flirting with other men and things like that – so it’s just easier to stay in. “I hardly see my friends or even my mum or sister any more, but then I’ve not got any money of my own since Liam made me quit my job at the bakery. Anyway, I’d better have my son’s eczema stuff and get home before Liam phones and realises I’ve popped out.” Julie then grabs the bag and heads out of the door, leaving Parveen feeling very uneasy...


From Julie’s edgy behaviour and what she has said about her partner, it sounds as though it is highly likely she is experiencing domestic abuse. Not all domestic abuse is physical – it can be purely emotional. This seems to be the case for Julie, who is describing her partner as being jealous, possessive and controlling, in both stopping her seeing those she is close to and making her financially dependent on him.

Parveen needs to support Julie, as she may be the first person she has disclosed her partner’s behaviour to, by providing a listening ear and giving her time to talk without pushing her too much to give details. Julie needs to know that nobody deserves to be threatened or abused, and that the problem lies with her partner and not with her.

Parveen is in a good position to tell her this and should also provide her with information on organisations (e.g. Women’s Aid, Refuge and the National Centre for Domestic Violence), as well as local services that may be able to assist her in exploring her options.

The bigger picture

The facts about domestic violence are shocking. According to the charity Refuge, a woman is killed every three days by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

One in four women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. It also has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime and while police receive a domestic assistance call every minute, only 35 per cent of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police. On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before she makes that first phone call.

Over four-fifths of domestic violence victims are women, just under a third of cases starting during pregnancy. Nobody is immune; domestic violence affects men and children as well as women, and those in same sex and heterosexual relationships.

Extend your learning

• See what NICE has to say about domestic violence and abuse in the introduction to its public health guidance on the topic at nice.org.uk/guidance/ph50/chapter/Introduction
• Have a look at some of the resources available for people wanting to seek help at

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