Domestic abuse involves those closest to you causing you physical or emotional harm. Sadly it is very common in the UK. You don’t have to feel like you are alone to deal with it. Our team of domestic abuse solicitors can help point you in the right direction to get the support you need and can help you to claim compensation for your suffering.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is the term used to describe a range of violent, abusive or coercive behaviours or activities by one person towards another within in a family or intimate relationship. Making a domestic abuse claim may be possible where violent crimes, such as rape, sexual assault or physical assaults that cause physical harm, like ABH or GBH, have been committed.

However, the behaviour need not be violent at all to qualify as domestic abuse: behaving in a controlling or coercive manner against another person can also cause psychological harm and is considered to be domestic abuse. If you have experienced this type of abuse or threats of violence, which have caused you to suffer emotionally and psychologically, it may be possible to claim compensation for the domestic abuse you have suffered.

Usually, domestic abuse is the term used where the person being abused is over 16 years old. Where the victim is a child, it is considered as child abuse. In addition, where domestic abuse of an adult is witnessed by a child or the child experiences the aftermath of domestic abuse, it is also child abuse.

David Durkin-Finch


David has been part of the Cleversons team from the start. He's assisted hundreds of clients and takes great pride in all his work.

Claiming compensation for domestic abuse

If you wish to claim compensation for domestic abuse, you will have two options available to you: a claim through the civil courts or a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). In some situations, it may be possible to claim for both. Abuse Claim Line can advise you on the strength of your case and the best avenue to follow.

Civil court domestic abuse claims

Domestic abuse claims can be made through the civil courts where there has been sexual, physical or non-physical domestic abuse which has resulted in an physical or psychological injury.

If you wish to claim compensation for domestic abuse through the civil courts, your case will be a lot stronger if you have previously obtained a conviction against the person who assaulted or abused you. Similarly, if your abuser has accepted a caution for assaulting you, this can act as an admission of guilt on their part and can be used as proof that the offences against you took place.

CICA domestic abuse claims

If you have been subjected to domestic abuse, it is likely that you are the victim of a crime. Provided you have reported the matter to the police, you may wish to make a claim for domestic abuse through the CICA, a government-run scheme that compensates victims of violent crimes.

Most importantly, perhaps, for domestic abuse claims, the CICA may not make a payment if you and your abuser are still living together. If you are no longer living together and are unlikely to do so again you should not have any issues.

Failing to co-operate in bringing your abuser to justice can also be a ground for the CICA to withhold a payment to you. Given the mix of emotional issues and the coercion and control that can arise in relationships where domestic abuse takes place, victims of domestic abuse sometimes withdraw their complaints to the police, revoke previous statements or refuse to assist the police further. As such, this issue can sometimes arise in domestic abuse CICA claims. However, the CICA has discretion to make or withhold an award on these grounds.

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    Types of domestic abuse

    Domestic abuse can come in many different forms; some may be violent; others are less obvious. If you have been subjected to one or more of the following types of domestic abuse, you may be able to make a compensation claim.

    Rape and sexual assault

    Rape and sexual assault within a relationship is a form of domestic abuse. When a person is in a relationship, including a marriage, they must consent to engaging in sexual activity each and every time, regardless of whether they have consented to sexual activity on other occasions. If they do not; it may be rape or sexual assault.

    Physical assaults

    As stated above, physical assaults are a form of domestic abuse. A physical assault will take place where there is intentional harmful or offensive contact by one person against another without consent. This is also known as “battery”.

    At times, the physical assault may give rise to physical injuries, such as wounds, broken bones, bruises, burns, wheals and/or scars. Sometimes, it is not necessarily the physical harm, but the psychological effects of the violence that causes the most damage.

    At other times, there may be no physical violence at all but merely the threat of physical violence that causes psychological harm. Simply carrying out an act which is intended to put someone in fear of being subjected to imminent physical violence is enough to constitute an assault. This is sometimes referred to as a “psychic” assault.

    Both physical assaults and psychic assaults are criminal offences as well as being civil “wrongs” that can give rise to compensation in the civil courts and through the CICA.

    Controlling and coercive behaviour

    Since December 2015, the new criminal offence of using “controlling and coercive behaviour” has assisted people in abusive or violent domestic relationships. A crime is now committed where:

    • someone (A) repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive; and
    • at the time of the behaviour, A and B are “personally connected”; and
    • the behaviour has a “serious effect” on B; and
    • A knows or should know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on B.

    Examples of A’s behaviour towards B that may be considered as controlling or coercive include threats of violence against B or others, such as B’s children; subjecting B to degrading or demeaning treatment; controlling B’s finances; reading B’s text messages, e-mails or letters; monitoring B’s movements, including by using online tools or private investigators; taking B’s wages or benefits; and taking control over elements of B’s personal life, such as by deciding who they can socialise with, where they can go, what they can wear and when (or where) they can sleep.

    Essentially, any behaviour by A towards B – whether psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional, which follows a pattern that is intended to harm, punish, or frighten B into doing A’s bidding, may be considered controlling or coercive and may constitute a crime.

    A and B will be “personally connected” if they are in an intimate relationship; or they live together and are members of the same family; or they live together having previously been in an intimate relationship. This is regardless of gender and sexuality.

    A’s behaviour will be deemed to have caused a “serious effect” on B if it causes B to fear, on two or more occasions, that A will use violence against them; or if it causes B serious alarm or distress that causes a substantial adverse effect on B’s day-to-day activities.

    When considering whether the behaviour has had a “substantial adverse effect” on B’s day-to-day activities, a number of things can be looked at, including any deterioration in B’s mental or physical health; stopping or changing the way B socialises; changes to B’s work patterns and/or B’s attendance at school or work.
    If you have experienced this type of treatment from a family member or ex-partner, you may be able to claim compensation for the abuse you have suffered.

    Revenge porn

    The term “revenge porn” is used where an explicit or sexual image of a person (A) is shared by another person (B) without the consent of A and with the intention of causing distress or embarrassment. The image(s) may be sent to a specific person or group of people by text or e-mail; it may uploaded to websites for members of the wider public to see; or a physical or electronic copy of the image(s) can be shown to someone in person. Sometimes, the images may be include information about A, such as their name and details of their social media profile(s).

    Since April 2015, videoing or capturing revenge porn has been illegal, but only now in 2021 has the law been changed to make threatening to share sexual images – or videos – of a person without their consent. It is now punishable by up to two years in prison.

    Revenge porn can often start as the sharing of a sexual image between partners in a consenting relationship. However, once those relationships have ended, any images that were sent to the other person may remain on a phone or computer. If that person then uses those images in a way designed to cause you distress or embarrassment, you may be able to claim if you have suffered a recognisable psychiatric condition.

    Speak to our team today

    Our team of dedicated, friendly solicitors have helped hundreds of victims get the support and justice they deserve for over twenty years. If you’ve been a victim of any form of domestic abuse, reach out to our team, call us on 0203 9252 301 or complete the online enquiry form below.

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