Domestic abuse: Advice for ethnic and religious communities

People from minority communities can face very different experiences and barriers. They can experience forms of violence unique to their community such as forced marriage, and crimes in the name of honour. In some communities, the violence can be perpetrated by their own families.

Domestic abuse can take many forms. Parents who force their children to marry often justify their actions as protecting their children and preserving cultural or religious traditions, but this is a form of domestic abuse. Every major faith condemns forced marriage and freely given consent is a prerequisite of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh marriage.

Forced marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people are pressured to marry against their will.

This pressure can take the form of physical abuse such as threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence, emotional and psychological abuse such as making someone feel like they’re bringing shame on their family. Financial abuse such as taking your wages or not can also be a factor.

Forced marriage is an offence. If you are worried you might be forced into marriage or are worried for someone else, contact Cheshire Police on 101 or in an emergency 999.

You can also contact the Forced Marriage Unit in the following ways:

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7008 0151
Email: [email protected]
Email for outreach work: [email protected]
Facebook: Forced Marriage page
Twitter: @FMUnit

Honour-based abuse

There is no honour in threatening or harming people with violence. However, both women and men can experience violence and threats at the hands of their family or community in order to protect their perceived ‘honour’. 

Some of the possible warning signs of honour-based abuse are:

  • Forms of communication being severed between victim and friends
  • Withdrawal from education or workplace
  • Criticism of victim for ‘Western’ adoption of clothing or make-up
  • Restrictions in leaving the house or chaperoning outside the home
  • Onset of depression or suicidal tendencies in an otherwise happy person

If you are in fear of such abuse or believe someone else could be a victim, call Cheshire Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. 

Three steps to escaping domestic violence

An information and advice leaflet is available via the Home Office website. It covers advice on the three steps to escaping violence and abuse and is aimed specifically at women in black and minority ethnic groups.

  • How to report the abuse
  • How to take action
  • How to keep safe from abuse.

It brings together such issues as honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, dowry abuse, domestic and sexual abuse, and having no recourse to public funds. The leaflet is available in 12 other languages, including Welsh.