Experiencing domestic abuse?
If you are in danger, please call the emergency services on 999. If you are unable to speak, listen to the operator and follow the guidance – from a mobile, you will be put through to the silent solution system, which will play a 20 second automated message and ask you to press 55 to confirm it’s not safe to speak, allowing you to be put through to the police. More information about the Silent Solution is available here. If you need immediate, non-emergency support, you can contact your local police by phoning 101.
For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there are a number of local and national services offering help and support. Guidance is also available to help perpetrators change their behaviour. Find out more here.
This page contains information on domestic abuse (including what to do if you are experiencing abuse), stalking, and honour-based abuse and forced marriage.
Does a partner, ex-partner or family member:
- Make you feel afraid of them?
- Make you feel isolated, bullied or belittled?
- Try to keep you from seeing friends or family
- Constantly check up on you?
- Regularly criticise or insult you?
- Physically hurt you?
- Make you feel as if you are walking on eggshells?
- Cause you to change your behaviour to avoid triggering an incident?
- Threaten you or your children?
- Control your money?
- Make you do things you don’t want to do or are uncomfortable with?
- Say you are useless and couldn’t cope without them?
- Deliberately damage your possessions?
- Have sudden changes of mood that dominate the house?
- Accuse you of flirting or being unfaithful?
- Prevent you from making your own decisions?
If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions then you may be experiencing domestic abuse. This is not your fault and you are not alone. You have the right to feel safe and live free from abuse. Domestic abuse is about power and control, and tactics used by perpetrators are wide-ranging, but none are acceptable. At the bottom of this page is further information on stalking if this is a concern for you.
Please consider talking to someone you trust about what is happening — a friend or family member, your GP or another professional. You can also contact a helpline – you do not have to give your name but can get some advice.
It may be helpful to watch this short video on indicators of abuse:
Clare’s Law (Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme)
Since 2014, Clare’s Law gives any person the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. If police checks show a record of abusive offences, or other information to indicate you may be at risk, the police will consider sharing this information with you and people best placed to protect you.
The aim of this scheme is to give people a formal process to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner. It allows potential victims to make an informed decision about continuing the relationship, and provides them with help and support. You can contact your local police by phoning 101 and they can advise you further. There is also information available on local police force websites, such as this one.
Information for people experiencing abuse
You may decide to stay in the relationship for any number of reasons and only you know the best, and safest, thing to do. You should take time to consider how you can best keep yourself and any children as safe as possible. This may include the following:
- Ensure any injuries you have are recorded with someone you can trust such as a GP or a close friend. Include photos where possible.
- Ask for help, or tell someone you trust about the abuse. Information on how friends and family can support can be found here.
- You are not responsible for someone else’s abusive behaviour, even if they insist you are to blame and it was your fault. Only the abuser is responsible for their behaviour.
- If you decide to leave, make sure you have a plan and ideally support from a specialist DA service. It is also advised to tell someone you trust who can check you are safe and well, and flag with police if they are concerned about you.
- If you need to leave quickly, contact your local helpline, or police, about finding a refuge. They can advise you on what to do next and help keep you safe.
- Consider safety planning for inside your home, such as planning an escape route, and storing a spare mobile phone or set of car keys securely outside.
- Plan a codeword or action to use with a trusted friend or family member to signal if you are in danger and cannot access help yourself.
- Try to get a bag together containing important documents (if not original copies, use photocopies) that you would need if leaving at short notice. This could be stored at a close friend or family members and should include (where relevant):
- A form of identification (driver’s license, birth certificate)
- Marriage and birth certificates
- Passports (for you and any children)
- Visas or work permits
- National Insurance number, any other insurance documents
- Money, bank details, bank card
- Change of clothes
- Keys (house, car, work)
- Documentation of any child benefits and any other welfare benefits
- Prescribed medication
- Legal documents (especially showing jointly owned property, rental agreements, documentation in relation to immigration status)
- Documents relating to the abuse e.g. police reports, court injunctions, restraining orders
- Address book and phone numbers, or a mobile phone containing this
Do not remove anything from the home that could cause suspicion from the abuser or put you more at risk.
Paladin, the national stalking advocacy service, provides a definition of stalking as “a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or serious alarm or distress”. They offer advice and information for those experiencing stalking, including guidance on how to report it to the police.
If you have concerns that you might be being stalked, it may be helpful to watch this video:
‘Honour’-based abuse and forced marriage
‘Honour’-based abuse is a form of domestic abuse. It is motivated by the belief that someone in the family has brought shame or dishonour to the family or community, so the abuse is committed to protect or defend the honour of the family or community. The abuse can take many forms including physical, emotional, sexual, economic and psychological abuse, coercive control, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM).
It often begins in the family home and affects people of all ages. Perpetrators are usually family members, or partners or ex-partners, and in many cases there are multiple perpetrators.
Are you at risk of forced marriage?
- Are you being pressured to get married but don’t want to?
- Is a close member of your family threatening to hurt you if you don’t accept the marriage?
- Is anyone abusing you verbally or physically and pressuring you to get married?
- Have you already been forced into a marriage?
- Are you being forced to live with a marriage partner you did not choose and you do not want to be with?
- Are you being prevented from going out at all?
- Are you being prevented from going to school or college or from having a job?
If you have concerns about ‘honour’-based abuse, FGM or forced marriage, please view recommended specialist support services, which are outlined on our website here, for further information and help.
Please visit the UK Government website to find the most up to date guidance for people living with domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is unacceptable in any situation, no matter what stresses people are under.
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