Stonewall | Domestic abuse
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Domestic violence

What does the law say?

The UK Home Office defines domestic violence and abuse as:

'Any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.'

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape, and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is an act, or a pattern of acts, of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation, or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Domestic violence includes so-called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone

Stonewall's research shows that one in four lesbian and bi women have experienced domestic abuse in a relationship. Two thirds of those say the perpetrator was a woman, a third a man. Almost half (49%) of all gay and bi men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse from a family member or partner since the age of 16.

There is limited research on how many trans people experience domestic abuse in the UK, and the best studies have small group samples. However, these figures suggest it is a significant issue. A report by the The Scottish Transgender Alliance indicates that 80% of trans people had experienced emotional, sexual, or physical abuse from a partner or ex-partner.

Information for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people experiencing domestic abuse

Dagenham and Barking PCT have produced a range of resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, their family and friends about domestic abuse. They give details on what abuse can look like for LGBT people, why it happens and how to keep safe. These guides were written in partnership with LGBT people and organisations who support them. 

Housing support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people experiencing domestic abuse

Stonewall Housing is the specialist lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) housing advice and support provider in England. 'Beyond Abuse' is their initiative is to increase the provision of services to meet the needs of LGBT+ victims / survivors of domestic abuse in Brighton, Manchester and London.

Get more support

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger you should contact the police on 999.


For information, advice and support contact Galop, who run a national  LGBT domestic violence helpline. The helpline is for LGBT people, their family, friends, and agencies supporting them. The helpline provides a space to talk through what’s going on, and to explore your options.    

Phone: 0800 999 5428


Galop information sheets

You can find LGBT-friendly solicitors and other useful contacts through Stonewall's online database What's In My Area.

For further information contact Stonewall's Information Service.