Signs of domestic abuse are not always easy to recognise; someone who has experienced, or is experiencing, abuse could show a number of signs that indicate something is very wrong.

Domestic abuse is often a hidden crime that is not reported to the police because of fear and/or consequences . Therefore, data held by the police only provides a snap-shot of the true level of domestic abuse experienced. Many cases won’t event enter the criminal justice system because they are not reported to the police.

    • The latest Crime Survey for England and Wales year ending March 2022 estimated that 5.0% of adults aged 16 years and over (2.4 million) experienced domestic abuse in the last year.
    • There was no significant change in the prevalence of domestic abuse experienced by adults aged 16 to 59 years in the last year compared with the year ending March 2020, a year largely unaffected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the last time the data were collected.
    • The police recorded 1,500,369 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in England and Wales in the year ending March 2022; 910,980 of these were recorded as domestic abuse-related crimes.
    • The number of domestic abuse-related crimes has continued to increase in recent years with the latest figure 7.7% higher than the year ending March 2021, and 14.1% higher than the year ending March 2020. [Source: Office of National Statistics, 2023]

There are a multitude of actions that amount to abuse and it is can also be happening even if there are no outward signs. Stay alert to the different types of abuse; you never know when you may be able to help someone you know:

Physical Abuse:

Intentional bodily injury such as slapping, pinching, choking, kicking, shoving, or inappropriately using drugs or physical restraints. Signs include: bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks, broken bones, open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries, physical signs of being punished or restrained, medical findings of overdose or use of medications. Also a change in the victim’s behaviour and a refusal to allow visitors or be left alone.

Sexual Abuse:

Non-consensual sexual contact (any unwanted sexual contact) including unwanted touching, rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, sexually explicit photographing or recording. Signs include: bruises around breasts or genital area, unexplained STIs, vaginal/anal bleeding or torn, stained or bloody underwear.

Emotional abuse:

Deliberately causing mental or emotional pain through coercive control, intimidation, ridiculing, harassment, treating an adult like a child, isolation from family, friends, or regular activity, use of silence to control behaviour, shouting and verbal abuse resulting in mental distress. Signs include: being emotionally upset, agitated, withdrawn and non-communicative/non-responsive, unusual nervous behaviour.

Financial exploitation:

This occurs when a vulnerable adult’s resources or income are illegally or improperly used for another person’s profit or gain. This can include illegally withdrawing money out of another person’s account, forging cheques and taking away the victim’s financial freedom. Signs include:  

sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including unexplained withdrawals of large sums of money at ATMs, adding additional names to accounts/credit cards, significant changes pattern of spending on bank statements, abrupt changes to a will or title deeds, disappearance of funds/valuable possessions, household bills unpaid and associated debt increasing, and the unexplained transfer of assets.


This deprives someone of the care necessary to maintain basic physical or mental health such as providing food, water, clothing, a safe, clean place to live, medicine or health care. Signs include:

dehydration, malnutrition, untreated bed sores and poor personal hygiene, untreated health problems, hazardous or unsafe living conditions such as no heat or running water, unsanitary and unclean living conditions evidence of fleas, lice, dirt, soiled bedding with faeces/urine.


Being left at home or in a deserted place without the ability to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter or health care. 

Combating domestic abuse does not necessarily mean contacting the police leading to prosecution and criminal convictions. There are a number of remedies available in the civil and family courts which can afford protection without resorting to criminal proceedings. 

Here at Arlingsworth Solicitors, we expertly understand the complexities and legal requirements around all forms of domestic abuse and we are here to offer professional legal guidance 24/7 to provide you with the very best legal advice, support and representation. 

If you need assistance, please contact our Brighton office on: +44 (0) 1273 696962 or our London office on: +44 (0) 203 358 0058. Alternatively, request a callback, or email You can also follow us on social media for any other important news and updates.

The information in this blog is intended for general information only. It is up-to-date at the time of writing. However, it does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated or relied upon as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.