Familial Abuse

Familial Abuse

It is sometimes thought that domestic abuse only occurs between current or ex intimate partners, but, Under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, the definition of people affected by domestic abuse includes relatives.

Familial domestic abuse happens between adult relatives, often, but not always, who live in the same household.    This can include sons, daughters, adult grandchildren and in-laws where both the victim and the abusive person(s) is aged 16 or over.

In familial abuse there may be more than one abuser – members of the family could ‘gang up’ on another family member.

If someone is subjected to abuse by family members, it can be difficult to seek support:

  • They may rely on the abuser(s) for somewhere to live or for financial support. 
  • They might be worried that others in the family won’t believe them or will turn against them if they speak out about what is happening.
  • The abuse could extend outside the household to other members of the family or community
  • The abuser or the victim may rely on the other for care and support
  • They may not want to have the police involved
  • They may be concerned that seeking support means they will have to end the relationship


Adult child to parent abuse, like Intimate Partner Abuse, is a very gendered crime with most instances being adult sons or grandson’s abusing mothers or grandmothers.


Unpaid Carers who are family members and Domestic Abuse

Recent analysis from the Home Office has found emerging themes around caring relationships in Domestic Homicide Reviews. 

One in five people in the UK are Unpaid Carers and many of them are caring for relatives with complex and demanding needs.

When talking to Carers about what support they need, they are rarely asked about domestic abuse.  The abuse could have been going on for a long time in the relationship or may be a recent behaviour change linked to illness or medication. 

Carers and people being cared for can be at particular risk of abuse but worried about the consequences of speaking out or seeking support.

If you are a carer experiencing domestic abuse, you can reach out to your local Carer’s Support Service for advice and they can signpost you to specialist support.  Any domestic abuse service commissioned across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough work with victims of familial domestic abuse and help can be sought from them.

In seeking support, there is no expectation to end the relationship with the person using abusive behaviours as this can be very complex.  Support is focussed on the wishes of the person being subjected to abuse and reducing the risk of harm to them.


Familial abuse is domestic abuse and help and support is available from specialist domestic abuse services.


Domestic Abuse Support Service (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough) 0300 373 1073

Hourglass (older people) 0808 808 8141 www.wearehourglass.org

Karma Nirvana (honour based abMaking Spaceuse) 0808 5999 247 Karma Nirvana

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