2.2 Spotting signs

Signs of domestic abuse aren't always easy to see, and may include different forms which are detailled below, along with signs that could be spotted as our tenants within our homes.



Signs of punching, kicking, choking, biting, bruises, cuts, bleeding, broken bones, types of minor and major injury (including internal injury)


Signs of rape, being forced to watch pornography, sexually graphic texts, revenge porn, forced to perform sexual acts, being degraded.

Emotional or psychological

Use of intimidation (destroying victim's property, dirty looks, body language/gestures, presence of weapons) and threats (to kill, to harm, to take children, to tell employer, to tell landlord), use of humiliation, mind games, name calling and put downs, jealousy and possessiveness, isolation - controlling where they go and who they see.


Suspected victim is prevented from getting a job, has no access to their own money, made to hand over money, has run up debt in their name on behalf of someone else, is not allowed to spend money on themselves or the children; money stolen or going missing.

Coercive and/or controlling behaviour

Suspected victim appears afraid, signs of controlling and/or coercive behaviours, signs of abuse that includes forms of psychological, emotional and/or physical and financial abuse.

Honour-based abuse

'Honour'-based abuse can include forms of psychological, emotional, physical and financial abuse sometimes carried out by whole family.

Forced marriage (not arranged marriages between consenting indivuduals), includes being taken out of the country to marry, secrecy in arranging a marriage without the person's knowledge.

Female genital mutilation

Signs of planned female genital, (FGM), on a child can include travel plans that involve taking children to countries where FGM is still practiced. FGM can cause both physical and psychological problems.

Signs in social housing

Caerphilly County Borough Council Housing staff have identified certain behaviours which may suggest domestic abuse:

  • Disclosure
  • Complaints from neighbours
  • Property damage
  • General disrepair (of property and/or self)
  • Tenants who are never alone - someone speaks on their behalf all the time
  • Reluctance to allow entry into property
  • Choice of clothing
  • Changes in personality - withdrawal, changes in demeanor
  • Constantly contacting landlord
  • Physical signs - injury weight gain or loss

Other research has also found key indicators to include rent arrears, financial issues, property damage, maintenance requests, anti-social behaviour and complaints from neighbours.

A significant link between rent arrears and financial abuse has been identified in social housing research (Jackson 2014), therefore housing staff should remain open to the possibility of domestic abuse when financial issues present themselves. The Citizens Advice Bureau has produced a useful Domestic Violence Financial Capability Toolkit (2016) available on its website: