Victims of emotional abuse are being urged not to suffer in silence.
It took seven years for Sarah* to not only realise what was happening to her was abuse.
Now - five years on and thanks to Options, run by Impact Family Services - she has her confidence and life back.
She said: “It was just a normal relationship at the start. Looking back now, it all changed when we became serious.
“I can see it now but back then because it was so subtle I didn’t realise it was happening.
“I always thought to be a victim of domestic abuse you had to have bruises - something to show.”
I always thought to be a victim of domestic abuse you had to have bruises - something to show.Sarah*
Three years ago the Home Office changed its definition of the offence of domestic violence to include acts of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour by offenders.
The definition includes psychological abuse, meaning that domineering men who torment their partners but do not assault them and who take control of a spouse’s finances, could all count as acts of domestic abuse.
“Sometimes I wish he had hit me, beat me up because then it would feel ore real, maybe if he had I would have left sooner.
“It was only when someone put me in touch with Options and I started to talk to other women that I finally realised that what was happening was also domestic abuse.
“It was hard to find the strength to leave my partner, he had broken my spirit and confidence, he made me think I wouldn’t be able to live without him.
“It’s been a hard battle but five years on I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because I’m now me.”