Honour based abuse (HBA) is any type of abuse committed against a person to protect or defend the perceived ‘honour’ of a family or community.

It is about beliefs and customs and an expectation that people must behave in a certain way. Breaking those rules or even just being suspected of breaking them, may be seen as bringing ‘shame’ or ‘dishonour’ on themselves or those around them.

There are lots of ways honour based abuse can manifest itself. For example, someone may be abused by their family for being in a relationship with a person of the same sex or from a different culture, they may not want to take part in an arranged marriage or they may be wearing clothing or taking part in activities not considered ‘traditional’.

The abuse can be emotional, physical or sexual and can involve threats of violence, imprisonment, stalking, forced marriage, rape and even murder.

Anyone can be a victim of honour based abuse regardless of age, race or religion and it doesn’t just affect females, men and boys can also be victims.

Signs of honour based abuse

Honour based abuse could be happening to someone you know so it’s important you know some potential warning signs to look out for:

How are they acting?

  • Withdrawn or upset?
  • Poor attendance or performance at school or work?

What’s their home life like?

  • Movements being excessively controlled?
  • Family dispute, domestic violence or running away from home?

How’s their health?

  • Signs of physical injury?
  • Depression, self-harm or attempted suicide?

Forced marriage

A forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of both parties. ‘Force’ can include physical force, as well as being pressurised emotionally, being threatened or being a victim of psychological abuse.

Forced marriages are not the same as arranged marriages. In an arranged marriage families take the lead in selecting a marriage partner but the couple have the free will and choice to accept or decline the arrangement.

Forced marriage is a criminal offence in the UK.

Report it

Culture, tradition and religion are not an excuse for abuse.

If you think you, or someone you know may be a victim of honour based abuse call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency. There are lots of ways we can help and we will always take you seriously.

Alternatively you can contact the national charity Karma Nirvana for confidential advice and support on 0800 5999 247.

Further advice and support

Karma Nirvana - Help and support for victims of honour based abuse.
NSPCC – Information and advice for young people concerned about forced marriage.