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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Domestic violence

If you are thinking about leaving an abusive relationship, or have left, find out your rights and where you can get help. If you are worried about your safety, or the safety of your children, there are people who can help you stay safe.

What to do if you are a victim of domestic violence

You're not alone

Call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on
0808 2000 247

Domestic violence does not just mean that your partner is hitting you. The abuse can be psychological, physical, sexual or emotional.

Domestic violence can also include many things, such as the constant breaking of trust, psychological games, harassment and financial control. It is rarely a one-off incident and is usually a pattern of abuse and controlling behaviour.

It can affect adults in all types of relationships and can also involve violence between parents and children.

If you are in an abusive relationship, there are three important steps you must take:

  • recognise that it is happening to you
  • accept that you are not to blame
  • get help and support

Lots of organisations can give you help and support, including Refuge and Women's Aid.

Getting help

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do.

In an emergency, call 999. Domestic violence is treated very seriously by the police, and they will take action to protect you.

If it is not an emergency, you could contact your local police station and discuss your situation with them.

You can also contact independent organisations such as the National Domestic Violence Helpline or the Men’s Advice Line to ask for help and advice.

The police will make sure that you get the help you need. They can put you in touch with volunteer organisations that provide refuge accommodation where you’ll be safe.

Advice and support

There are many people and organisations you can turn to if you are suffering from domestic violence. Your GP, for example, can direct you to groups that work with victims of abuse. They can point you to local support groups and charities that help victims and their children escape the cycle of violence.

If you don’t want to discuss it with your GP, you can call one of the helplines listed below.

They can make sure you find safe emergency refuge accommodation and put you in touch with people who can ensure that you’re protected. You don't have to tell them your name.

The helplines include:

  • English National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
  • Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 80 10 800
  • Dyn Wales/Dyn Cymru (for men in Wales): 0808 801 0321
  • Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 027 1234
  • Northern Ireland Women's Aid 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 0800 917 1414
  • Broken Rainbow Helpline (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people): 0300 999 5428
  • Respect Phoneline (for people who are abusive to partners and want help to stop): 0808 802 4040
  • Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7088 0151

Rights of domestic abuse victims

Children and your rights

Your abuser may threaten that if you leave or tell anyone about what's happening, your child will be taken away from you. It’s important that you know that Children's Services will not take your child away for this reason.

If you fear your partner will abduct your children, get advice as soon as possible. Your local Women's Aid group, Refuge, Law Centre, Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor can advise you on how to protect your child. They will explain how contact between your child and a violent partner can be restricted.

These groups will explain that, under the Family Law Act 1996, you can apply for an order that will protect you from threats or violence. This is called a ‘non-molestation order’.

Your home and your rights

You can apply for an order that will protect your right to live safely in your family home (this is called an ‘occupation order’). If granted, it could order your abuser to move out of the house, and forbid them even to enter it.

If you are in this situation please contact one of the advice groups.

If you’re a young person in an abusive relationship, find out more in the young people’s section.

Additional links

Victims of crime - find help

If you're a victim of crime, you can now search for services in your area that can give you help and support

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