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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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What charges might be brought?

There is no specific charge for domestic violence or partner abuse. If the police charge your partner, they decide what crime to charge him with.


Assault is a crime where one person applies force to another person, or attempts or threatens to apply force to them without their consent. Assault is a crime even if you are not physically hurt, and sometimes even if you were not actually touched.

Assault charges include "assault", "assault with a weapon", "assault causing bodily harm", and "aggravated assault".

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is a crime that is a sexual act or touch that you don't consent to. This might include kissing and touching, fondling, or rape. Sexual assault is a crime even if you're not physically hurt.

Being married does not give your partner the right to be sexual with you without your consent. If he is, this is the crime of sexual assault.

Sexual assault charges include "sexual assault", "sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm", and "aggravated sexual assault".

Other charges

If your partner forced you to stay somewhere by threatening you or physically stopping you from leaving, he might be charged with "forcible confinement".

If your partner threatened you, he might be charged with the crime of "uttering threats".

Another common charge in partner abuse cases is "criminal harassment". Criminal harassment includes things like stalking, harassing phone calls, or unwanted visits to where you live or work.

The police will understand your situation better if you give them background information and details of other incidents or criminal convictions. Your partner can be charged for violent behaviour that happened in the past.