Domestic abuse

It can be very unsettling to realise that your partner or ex-partner’s behaviour counts as domestic violence. Please remember that it can happen to anyone and nothing you have done justifies abuse.

You may be wondering whether your partner or ex-partner’s behaviour is normal. Or you may be worried about someone close to you. This guide is designed to help you to understand domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse can have serious social, physical and psychological effects. These effects impact the person who experiences the abuse and also their children.

There is no justification for abuse. Abusive partners have often experienced trauma that they have left untreated. But this trauma never justifies the abuse they inflict on others. Unfortunately, they are rarely capable of change, even though they promise they will.

Perpetrators deploy common strategies to discredit their victims and often use the legal system to continue their abuse. However, judges, police, media and society are all starting to recognise these manipulative tactics and patterns of behaviour.

Domestic abuse is not a private matter. If you have witnessed domestic abuse, or a victim has confided in you, your support could save their life. In an emergency, call the police on 17 or send them an SMS to 114.


When I arrived in France, I didn't speak a word of French, but my spouse didn't want me to take lessons. He didn't want me to work either. He told me he was going to take care of me. He controlled everything. I had to ask him for money every time I went to the supermarket. Even though it went on for years, it took him getting physically violent for me to realise there was a problem and I had to leave. The journey was long, but I ended up building an independent life in France.

“Maria” - Argentina - 43 years old

When he started to become violent, I was terrified but I didn't know how to react because I felt guilty and thought it was my fault. When I finally decided to leave him, he threatened to report me to the police because I didn’t have papers. I was completely trapped, but I was too ashamed to tell my loved ones. Fortunately, I found an association that helped me understand my rights and helped me on my journey. I am still rebuilding.

“Émeline” - Haiti - 29 years old

It took me a long time to realise how serious the problem was. People don't talk much about marital rape, and I didn't know what I could do as an expat. He was French, I was a foreigner: I had the impression that everyone believed him, and not me. Everyone thought he was so nice! Outside of our relationship he was loved by everyone and everyone thought he was the good guy and that I was the foreigner not to be trusted. When I think back to that time in my life, I can't believe it took me so long to react.

“Pola” - Poland - 36 years old

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