Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse refers to abusive behaviours which take place between two people who are personally connected to each other. Domestic abuse can include a wide range of abusive behaviour. It can happen to anyone; partners, ex-partners, family members; regardless of sexuality, gender, religion, orientation, race, background or upbringing. Domestic Abuse can occur across generations and it affects all age groups, including elderly people.

Men, women and children can all experience domestic abuse, and perpetrators can be male or female, though women are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse and the majority of perpetrators are men.

According to Refuge, calls to helplines have increased by 61% since lockdown began.



Physical abuse – This includes any kind of threat of violence, it does not just have to be hitting, you may be restrained by your partner or have things thrown at you. They may shove or pinch you and claim it is a ‘joke’.

Economical abuse – This involves a perpetrator using or misusing money which leads to them controlling their partners current and future actions as well as their freedom of choice.

Mental abuse – A way to control another person by using emotions to criticise, embarrass, shame, blame and manipulate another person.

Emotional abuse – This can be subtle and deceptive or explicit and manipulative, either way it chips away at a victims’ self-esteem and they start doubting their perceptions and feelings.

Coercive control – A pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence.

Sexual abuse – Any sexual act that a person did not consent to or is forced into against their will, including unsafe sex and degrading sexual activity.

Female genital mutilation – A collective term for a range of procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

Digital/online abuse – Modern technology gives perpetrators increasing ways to stalk, isolate and control their victims through the tools of everyday life.

Honour based abuse – An incident or crime committed to defend or protect the ‘honour’ of the family and community.

Forced marriage – A form of honour-based abuse. It is when one or both people who do not, or cannot consent to the marriage and are forced into it.


It takes a great deal of courage to leave someone who controls and intimidates you. Women often attempt to leave several times before making the final break. Women are at the greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner.

Safety - the woman may be fearful of what the abuser will do to her and the children if they leave or attempt to leave

Lack of self-confidence - the woman may believe that it is her fault and that she deserves the abuse, and may fear she would never find anyone else if she left

Denial - she convinces herself that “it’s not that bad”

Shame - she is embarrassed about people finding out

Guilt - the abuser makes her believe that she is to blame for his actions

Financial dependence -  the woman may not be able to support herself and her children independently.

Loyalty - she may be loyal to the abuser regardless of his actions

Hope -  believes that things will improve with time. She believes she can make him change

Lack of support - she doesn’t know to whom to turn

Pressure - family and friends pressurise her to stay and ‘make it work’

Religious/community beliefs - she is under pressure not to break up the family

Love - despite the abuse, she still loves him

Jekyll and Hyde - the abuser switches between charm and rage; the woman thinks, ‘He’s not always like this’

Intimidation - the abuser threatens to take the children or pets away

Gender roles - she might normalise his behaviour because he’s a man – ‘that’s how men are’. She may believe it’s the woman’s role to put the needs of others first

Immigration - if the woman has insecure immigration status, she may fear being deported

Very Brief Intervention


Remember, you may be the first person to whom a woman discloses her abuse. This may be her only opportunity to access support. It is critical that you listen to her and believe her, and that you are non-judgmental and respond safely and appropriately. The below information is designed to support you in that engagement process:

  • Create a safe space
  • Make sure you speak in private. Make it clear you won’t judge. Only then will they feel safe enough to open up
  • Is there anything you want to talk about? Is everything OK at home?”
  • Take them seriously. Listen. Believe them
  • Tell them it’s not their fault
  • Tell them nothing they can do justifies abuse.
  • Don’t ask why they haven’t left or judge her choices. Instead, build confidence and focus on strengths.
  • They may have been deliberately isolated. Say that there are solutions.
  • Encourage them to contact domestic abuse services to obtain support and find out about rights and options.
  • Leaving is the most dangerous time for a woman; it is important they seek specialist support if planning to leave.

Spotting the signs and questions

Is your partner jealous and possessive?

Are they charming one minute and abusive the next?

Do they tell you what to wear, where to go, who to see?

Do they constantly put you down?

Do they play mind games and make you doubt your judgment?

Do they control your money, or make sure you are dependent on him for everyday things?

Do they pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?

Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making them angry?

Do they control your access to medicine, devices or care that you need? 

Does he monitor or track your movements or messages?

Does he use anger and intimidation to frighten and control you?



Police officers have specific duties to support and protect women and children experiencing, or at risk of, domestic abuse. You should ensure you understand your duties, and the policies and procedures your force has in place to recognise abuse and support women.

Arrangements for deploying specialist domestic abuse resources vary between forces. Some have dedicated domestic abuse units. Others locate their domestic abuse specialists in their public protection unit. Domestic abuse incidents are not necessarily routed through to specialist officers unless they are classed as being of a higher level of risk. Primary responsibility for investigation may, therefore, remain with the first responder/officer in the case.

Where there are local domestic abuse units, these are listed under local resources alongside other domestic abuse support services.




Providing advice and support for women and children, against domestic violence. If you are seeking immediate support, call the free Helpline. Messages sent through the website will be responded to within 48 hours, messages won’t leave any trace on emails and the helpline team won’t leave voicemails when calling back for safety reasons.

Domestic Abuse helpline Tel: 0808 2000 247 – Open 24 hours a day




Women's Aid

A national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. A federation of over 180 organisations providing just under 300 services across England. They provide online help and support to women and children suffering domestic abuses, help to access refuge accommodation, outreach services and Independent domestic violence advocacy (IDVA).

Tel: 0808 2000 247 – 24 hour Domestic Abuse helpline or call 01709 336009


Technology Safety - A Toolkit for Survivors

Resources on this website explore technology in the context of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and violence against women. To talk to someone who can answer your questions and support you, call the National Domestic Abuse helpline. Information includes:

  • Safety tips, information, and privacy strategies for survivors on the use of technology
  • Spyware and Stalkerware information
  • Smartphones - Increasing privacy & responding to abuse
  • Tips on being webwise when sharing personal information online


The Men's Advice Line

Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. The service offers advice and emotional support to men who experience abuse, and signpost to other vital services that help keep them and their children safe. Your call will not appear on itemised bills.  

Tel: 0808 801 0327 (run by Respect) Mon–Fri 9am-8pm



National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline

The helpline team has extensive experience in supporting LGBT+ people who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, hate crime, so-called conversion therapies, honour-based abuse, forced marriage, and other forms of abuse. Professionals can also contact this number for advice.

Tel: 0800 999 5428 (run by Galop) Mon to Fri 10am – 5pm, Weds and Thurs 10am – 8:00pm



Rights of Women - Helping women through the law

Free telephone advice line providing women with legal advice and information on a wide range of legal issues including domestic violence, child contact, sexual violence and the criminal justice process and immigration and asylum as well as other legal issues arising from relationship breakdown.

Tel: 020 7251 8887 Tues 2pm – 4pm and 7pm – 9pm, Thurs 2pm – 4pm, Fri 10am – 12pm. The line is closed on Bank holidays.



National Helpline for men wanting to change

For men worried about their behaviours and relationships and who want to take steps to change. Providing perpetrator support and helping men to become safe around their partners and children.

Tel: 0808 8024040 Mon–Fri 9am-8pm


Forensic Marking 

This is the use of transferable sprays and hand held sprays at properties to place an abuser at the scene. Perpetrators who are marked will be linked to a place or location so the police can build a case against them. Officers may talk to an abuser advising them of the consequences of approaching a protected person and referring them to a perpetrator programme to address offending behaviour. Enquire about the potential use of forensic marking through you local police force.

Local Support and Contact Details