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MAP Belfast Northern Ireland



Domestic abuse (also known as domestic violence) is systematic control over an individual in a relationship by physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual abuse. It can also involve the threat of violence to control another’s behaviour or actions.

Domestic abuse can occur in all relationships but is common between spouses, couples in intimate relationships, family and co-habitants. As recently as the 1970’s domestic violence has been highlighted in the media and by various organisations as a common but preventative criminal activity and studies have shown that it affects millions of people worldwide. Previously it was seen as a hidden crime and many people refused to act against perpetrators as it was seen as interfering in private affairs. This is no longer the case, and the police service has new powers to arrest perpetrators, at times even when the victim stays silent.



Physical violence although not necessarily the most common form of abuse is the most commonly recognised form of domestic abuse. This form of abuse involves physical violence such as hitting, pushing, punching, kicking and even spitting. Any physical activity which can hurt, frighten, degrade or humiliate someone is physical abuse. There can also be the threat of physical violence in order to control someone or intimidate someone into submission and this is just as serious.


Sexual abuse involves forced or unwanted sexual contact and can often involve physical violence such as rape. Commonly the victim is coerced or threatened to comply. These activities are often degrading and humiliating for the victim and subsequent emotional scarring from such abuse can persist for a long time after the event, without positive intervention.


Financial abuse is a method of control by withholding finances from the victim in an effort to control their movements, actions, educational and social opportunities. It often involves a perpetrator withholding joint finances from a victim, forcing them to beg for money or comply in order to get money. Economic abuse can stop the victim from advancing in education or employment. At worst, they can be hungry and isolated with restricted mobility.


Emotional abuse (also known as psychological abuse) involves placing any individual in a situation which is psychologically harmful. It is the wilful infliction of emotional distress by verbal abuse, humiliation, threat or similar verbal or non verbal action designed to intimidate or subdue the victim. Any behaviour seeking to demean, degrade and lower someone’s self esteem constitutes abuse. It is usually persistent and aimed at systematically eroding the individual's sense of self worth.

Typically the resulting negative self-image renders the victim increasingly more depressed and ill-equipped to defend themselves. In the face of persistent abuse it becomes difficult and sometimes impossible for victims to make the decisions to change their situation or seek help. Many feel vulnerable, helpless and hopeless; this allows the perpetrator to keep their victim silent and under control.


Depending on the type of abuse and its severity there can be a number of side effects. These include a disturbed sleep pattern, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, tremors, sweating and feeling physically weak. Victims can also experience loss or gain of appetite, headaches, low self esteem, reduced self confidence, sexual dysfunction, loss of concentration, poor memory recall and suicidal ideation. Many victims can also turn to other methods of coping such as increased alcohol consumption, leading to depression and suicidal tendencies and/or substance abuse, either illegal or prescription drugs.


Anger management is about insight and behavioural change aimed at controlling one of our most basic human emotions. But what is anger and aggression and how can you stop it from taking a destructive hold over your life?

We experience anger in some form or another, according to circumstances. Abuse, neglect and injustice predictably give rise to an equally strong response. When channelled appropriately, anger can be directed towards righting injustice through peaceful and ethical means; however left unaltered anger can be a powerful and destructive force. Whether generated by actual circumstance, perceived circumstance, frustration, historic influences or mental health problems, anger demands control.

Currently there are many different techniques employed to manager anger. Ideally they all have the same drive and focus - to enable us to control the destructive impulses inherent in anger. Whether this anger is externalised, when we direct it towards others or objects, or internalised, when we feel depressed or ill, the consequences of either can be damning unchecked. Anger can have a detrimental effect in all areas of our lives, at home, at work, in our relationships and throughout our life. MAP seeks to offer support in this area.


There is never an easy answer to this question and it varies from person to person, but a common reason is stress. Think about it! Stress is a common response to pressure, whether at home or at work. Unrealistic deadlines or targets, organisational change, strained work relationships and pressure of work, reduced hours and redundancy - all add to workplace stress. Relationship issues, family problems and financial difficulties can exacerbate personal and domestic stress. Whatever the pressures, cumulatively they can tip the balance between coping or not coping.

These reasons eventually lead to a situation where we either explode or implode. 'Exploders' blow up and vent their aggression immediately, normally at someone or something at that moment in time. 'Imploders' suppress their anger and hold on to it. This anger then lingers and will come out at some point or another - it is only a matter of time. As described by the Irish Association of Anger Management, these people are literally 'walking time bombs'.


Safety Plans

It is important that you feel safe and secure.

Things will not change if you do nothing. Recognising that you are in an abusive relationship is an important first act.

Always keep a record of dates and times of incidents in a safe place

Always report the abuse or violence to your doctor or the police – ensure they record your injuries and all details of the abuse, assault or harassment

Always seek medical attention for any injuries – do not cover up the true cause

Always take legal advice. The same laws that are there to protect women are also there to protect men but legal advice is necessary

Do tell your family and friends what is happening to you

Do not be provoked into retaliating

Identify a safe place where you can go to if you are in immediate danger. Consider a room which you can lock and if you can, hide a mobile phone in there so you can call for help.

Call 999

We want you to use this website to your advantage we can never overemphasise YOUR SAFETY! No matter what information you may have to help you, if you are in danger you should always:

CALL 999 in an emergency

If you plan on leaving the home, try to do this when your partner is not around. Where you have responsibility for your children i.e. you are the legal guardian, parent or custodian, take them with you. Child protection legislation exists to ensure child safety. Under these circumstances it may be wise to make contact with the police your first port of call. You may also want to call a friend or someone you can trust for help and support.

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