A woman who looks distressed, hugging her own legsStatistics have revealed that domestic violence has risen sharply since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day, while a separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse seeking help to change their behaviour, received 25% more calls after the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Please do not hesitate in seeking support.


Useful information

Please note, the links included in the drop down menus will open in a new window. 

Domestic violence - Also called domestic abuse is any pattern of behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by women globally.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) - Refers to the abusive behavior of residences of one single location who are in an intimate relationship with each other, past or present, in turn excluding family members or other residents living within the household. It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.

Honour Based Violence (HBV) - A collection of practices used predominantly to control the behaviour of women and girls within families or other social groups in order to protect supposed cultural and religious beliefs, values and social norms in the name of 'honour'. Examples of HBV are Femicide and Honour Killings. 

  • Femicide - Refers to the intentional murder of women because they are women, but may be defined more broadly to include any killings of women or girls. Cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.
  • Honor killing - Refer to the murder of a family member, usually a woman or girl, for the purported reason that the person has brought dishonor or shame upon the family. 

Harrassement - Unwanted behaviour which you find offensive or which makes you feel intimidated or humiliated. It can happen on its own or alongside other forms of discrimination. Examples can be psychological, physical, sexual, cyber

Stalking - A pattern of harassing or threatening behaviors. Examples of stalking behavior are making unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails, following or spying on the victim, showing up or waiting at places without a legitimate reason, leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth. 

Sexual violence - Is any sexual act committed against the will of another person, either when this person does not give consent or when consent cannot be given because the person is a child, has a mental disability, or is severely intoxicated or unconscious as a result of alcohol or drugs. This can include sexual harrasement, rape, corrective rape (perpetrated against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity) and rape culture (social environment that allows sexual violence to be normalized and justified). 

Human trafficking - The acquisition and exploitation of people, through means such as force, fraud, coercion, or deception. 

  • Modern slavery describes a situation where someone is made to do something, and another person gains from this. It is deception or coercion for the purpose of exploitation. Victims can be any age, gender, or race, but are often taken advantage of due to their vulnerability. This is a serious crime which directly violates the human rights of its victims. The purpose of exploitation may include:
    • Forced labour
    • Sexual exploitation
    • Domestic servitude
    • Criminal exploitation
    • Forced/ sham marriage
    • Organ harvesting

Female genital mutilation (FGM) -  Is a procedure that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Child marriage - Refers to any marriage where one or both of the spouses are below the age of 18. It is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and girls are more likely to be child brides.

Online or digital violence - Any act of violence that is committed, assisted or aggravated by the use of information and communication technology (mobile phones, the Internet, social media, computer games, text messaging, email, etc) against a woman because she is a woman. This also includes cyberbullying, non-consentual sexting and Doxing (public release of private or identifying information about the victim).

Revenge Porn - Also known as Nonconsensual Pornography (NCP), is defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. It includes both images originally obtained without consent. For example hidden cameras, hacking phones or online accounts, recording sexual assaults, as well as images consensually obtained within the context of an intimate relationship.

Economic abuse - Over-spending, and building up debts in your name or joint names, can also develop slowly and may not be obvious at first. Some women may have lived with economic abuse for many years, and it can continue after leaving.

What I may see:

Every one of us can have arguments in relationships and behave in ways that we regret. But if this happens on a regular basis, it can be a sign of domestic abuse.

  • They have tried to stop you seeing your family or friends
  • Your partner often checks up on where you are, or follows you
  • They accuse you of flirting or cheating, without reason
  • Your partner often puts you down, criticises or insults you
  • They make you feel afraid
  • Your partner has forced you to do something you really didn’t want to do
  • They have hurt you or your children
  • Your partner has withheld money from you or put you in debt
  • They have tried to stop you taking your medicine, or seeing a doctor
  • Your partner has threatened to take away your children if you leave
  • They have forced or pressured you to have sex with them or other people
  • Your partner has made you take part in sexual activity that you weren’t comfortable with
  • They force you to take drugs or alcohol
  • Your partner blames their behaviour on drugs, alcohol, depression or their childhood

What others may see: 

  1. Signs for friends
    • Sometimes our closest friends can be suffering in silence. If you spot any of these signs, your friend may be experiencing domestic abuse in their relationship.
  2. Control
    • Does your friend’s partner call and text them all the time? Does it ever seem like they’re checking up on your friend?
  3. Isolation
    • Have you noticed you get to see your friend less and less, and that they’re also seeing less of their other friends and family? Maybe they seem to make excuses about why they can’t meet up, or you get the sense that your friend’s partner is taking over their life.
  4. Manipulation
    • Does it ever seem like your friend won’t make a decision without checking with their partner first? Do they ever seem worried about their partner’s reaction?
  5. Pressure
    • Have you noticed that your friend is behaving out of character – e.g. dressing, acting, or speaking differently? Do you think they may ever feel pressured by their partner to look or behave in a certain way?
  6. Jealousy
    • Does your friend change their behaviour to avoid accusations of cheating from their partner? Does it seem like their partner is often jealous for little reason?
  7. Fear
    • Have you noticed your friend treading on eggshells to avoid rowing with their partner? Have you ever got the sense that your friend is a bit afraid of them?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for social care - Advice and support for those working in social care. 

Safeguarding during the COVID-19 crisis - This quick guide is aimed at professionals and organisations who are involved in supporting and safeguarding adults and children.

Domestic abuse and Covid-19: A year into the pandemic - How has the pandemic affected domestic abuse and what has the Government's response been?

Women's Aid - The impact of COVID-19 on women and children experiencing domestic abuse, and the life-saving services that support them. More resources can be found here.

Safe Lives - For many people, home is not a place of safety. It’s more important than ever that help continues to be available to adults and children living with abuse. But with lockdowns and isolation, it can be more difficult for professionals who work with people experiencing abuse to provide support to those who need it. 

Royal College of Nursing - Domestic abuse is a significant safeguarding issue for all societies.

Signs of Domestic Violence | NHS

Resources

National Domestic Violence Helpline for female victims of DV

Men’s Advice Line for male victims of DV

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline

galop: 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. 

Karma Nirvana: Advice and support for victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage

Respond: Support for people with learning disabilities who have experienced trauma/abuse

Deafhope: Domestic and sexual abuse support for the deaf community

Sign HealthA specialist domestic abuse service to support Deaf people in finding safety and security.

Refuge: Provides specialist services to survivors of domestic abuse.

  • We run the Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247

SamaritansHelpline service for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. Samaritans is not only for the moment of crisis, we’re taking action to prevent the crisis. 

  • Contact number is 116 123.

Victim Support: A free and confidential support service to victims of crime regardless of whether the crime has been reported or how long ago it happened. 

The National Stalking Helpline: A free service offering advice for victims of stalking. 

Respond: A national charity providing therapy and specialist support services to people with learning disabilities, autism or both who have experienced abuse, violence or trauma.

Sign Health - A specialist domestic abuse service to support Deaf people in finding safety and security.

End violence against women and girls (EVAW) - EVAW is a leading coalition of specialist women’s support services, researchers, activists, survivors and NGOs working to end violence against women and girls in all its forms.

Samaritans -  Helpline service for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. Samaritans is not only for the moment of crisis, we’re taking action to prevent the crisis. Contact number is 116 123.

AVA project - Ending gender based violence and abuse.ending gender based violence and abuse.

nia - Services for women and girls who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including prostitution. 

Solace - Solace Women’s Aid offers free advice and support to women and children in London to build safe and strong lives. 

Rape Crisis South London - Rape Crisis South London changed its name from the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) in 2012. Rape crisis south London provides a high standard of professional support to female survivors of sexual violence. Run as a woman-only service, both for women accessing support and members of staff. 

galop - 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. 

Everyone's Invited - A safe place for survivors to share their stories completely anonymously. The act of sharing their story with Everyone’s Invited allows many survivors a sense of relief, catharsis, empowerment, and gives them a feeling of community and hope.

My body back - A specialist clinic where those who had experienced sexual violence could access cervical screening, STI testing and contraceptive care in an environment tailored to their comfort and empowerment. 

The survivors trust - Based in the UK & Ireland which provide specialist support for women, men and children who have survived rape, sexual violence or childhood sexual abuse. 

Safe line - Safeline is an independent and non-discriminatory charity that provides specialist, tailored support for anyone affected by sexual abuse and rape and works to prevent CSE with children and young people at risk. We support everyone regardless of age, gender/gender identity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity, religion/faith, pregnancy and maternity status or disability or position in life, as well as families and friends of people who have been abused. 

Respond - A national charity providing therapy and specialist support services to people with learning disabilities, autism or both who have experienced abuse, violence or trauma.

Safe lives - Resources for people working with adults and children experiencing domestic abuse.

IRISi - A social enterprise established to promote and improve the healthcare response to domestic violence and abuse (DVA).

Refuge - Refuge provides specialist services to survivors of domestic abuse. We run the Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247

Respect - The helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and carers support for partners. 

Carers U.K. - Support and advice for carers. 

Care for carers - Carers Group Support Association

Citizens advice - List of support services for men and women. 

Mankind - Support for men witnessing, experiencing or supporting others who are experiencing domestic violence. 

Victim Support - A free and confidential support service to victims of crime regardless of whether the crime has been reported or how long ago it happened. Call their free support line on: 0808 168 9111 or contact them online 

Sign Health - A specialist domestic abuse service to support Deaf people in finding safety and security.

Respond - A national charity providing therapy and specialist support services to people with learning disabilities, autism or both who have experienced abuse, violence or trauma.

Safe lives - Supporting friends, family members, neighbours and colleagues experiencing domestic abuse.

IRISi - A social enterprise established to promote and improve the healthcare response to domestic violence and abuse (DVA).

Men's Advice Line on 0808 8010 327 (Monday and Wednesday, 9am to 8pm, and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9am to 5pm) for non-judgemental information and support for men.

ManKind on 0182 3334 244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm) information and support for men. 

Apps

Bright Sky is a mobile app and website for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or brightskyapp.pngwho is worried about someone else. It is available in Polish, Punjabi and Urdu. 

Other resources

Shake2Safety -  Designed to send emergency messages to a contact, as well as record audio and video, and can be triggered by subtle movements like shaking your phone or pushing the power button four times.

Circle Of 6 - You can choose six contacts and the app lets you set and send preset messages about your safety.

bSafe - The app has a range of features, such as an SOS button, which can be activated by touch or voice and records your surroundings to send to your chosen contacts, and lets you invite your contacts to follow your location via GPS. There is a fake call feature, which you can use to make your phone ring to get you out of situations you are unsure of.

Life360 - Lets you make your own ‘circles’ of trusted contacts and check out their location, as well as send and receive real-time alerts when members of your circle leave or arrive at different places.

Kitestring - While not technically an app, especially for those without smartphones, text Kitestring to let others know what time they should check in with you. If you text that you are ‘OK’ within that time, no further action is taken. But if there is no response from you, they will send a message to your chosen emergency contact.

Red Panic Button - Pressing the panic button on this app instantly sends your emergency contacts an SMS and an email with your coordinates in a Google Maps link. It also allows you to send a ‘panic tweet’ that shares your location and lets your followers know that you need help.

Safe & the city app - Quickly reach Emergency Services and know the nearest Safe Site, like the friendly local shop or closest hospital. Get real-time notifications from police to know what’s ahead and plan your next move. Walking and public transit routes are rated by the entire community so you are shown the best way.

The hollie guard app - The app has two modes that can help you raise an alarm if you are in a dangerous situation. The idea of deterrent mode is to make it clear to anyone in your surrounding area that an alert has been raised and to reduce the risk of an attack. 


How to stay safe

  1. Ask for ANI code word
    • If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need immediate help, ask for ‘ANI’ in a participating pharmacy. ‘ANI’ stands for Action Needed Immediately. If a pharmacy has the ‘Ask for ANI’ logo on display, it means they’re ready to help. 
  2. Safe spaces 
    • Boots UK, Morrisons, Superdrug and Well pharmacies, TSB banks and independent pharmacies across the UK to provide Safe Spaces in their consultation rooms for people experiencing domestic abuse.

How to access a Safe Space

  • Walk into any participating pharmacy in the UK.
  • Ask at the healthcare counter to use their Safe Space.
  • A pharmacist will show you to the Safe Space. Which will be the consultancy room.
  • Once inside, you will find displayed specialist domestic abuse support information for you to access, to make that call or access Bright Sky safely.

How to be safe online 

  1. Your digital footprint 
    • Look at all areas that you use tech in your life and consider if there are any areas in which you would like to improve your understanding, update your security or restrict your visibility.
  2. Password savvy 
    • Strong passwords are crucial to protecting our accounts. Change user names and passwords, even if you don’t think that the accounts have been compromised.
  3. Check security settings 
    • Update security settings on social media accounts so that only the people who you want to connect with can see your posts, photos and information.
  4. Location, location, location
    • Lots of apps and software record information about your geographical location, and this information could be misused by someone with access to your accounts/devices. consider turning off location settings in apps that are not in use or used for safety. 
  5. Connections 
    • Consider any connected or joint accounts that may have been installed on more than one device and could give someone access to your information or devices. This could include accounts for iTunes, app stores, Google Play store, eBay, Amazon, Kindle and others. Are there smart home devices that could be used to monitor or impact you? Change the passwords on these, to ensure that only trusted people can access them.
  6. Wifi 
    • A person may be able to access your devices via the WiFi network, which will be accessible without being inside your home.

How to stay safe online 

Women's aid - Provide useful informaiton and support on how to cover your tracks online and also to delete browsing history. 

Safe lives -  Provide information and support for staying safe online and have a Staying Safe Online guide for professionals. 

Refudge - Tech abuse and empowerment team supports women in our services who have had technology used against them as a weapon of domestic abuse.


Reporting process

  • Create a safe space by speaking in private or a space where the person can feel safe to open up.
  • Ask if there is anything that is upsetting going on? Explain that you have noticed changes and you would like to check that the person is ok. You can approach the conversation with “You haven’t seemed yourself lately. Is there anything you want to talk about?"
  • Validate the persons feeling and offer confirmation that you are listening by summarising what the person has told you, observing non-verbal ques and offering breaks for when the person becomes distressed. 
  • Re-affirm that what is/has happened is not the persons fault and do not ask why the personal has not left the situation or reported to the police. Remind the person that they are not alone. 
  • Encourage, but do not force or judge, the person to report the crime to the police or to speak with a specialised service for support. 
  • Allow the person time to reflect and process the situation and to draw on their own conclusions. Be patient as recognising the problem is the first step.
  • Equation - Guidence on what to say if you think your friend is experiencing domestic abuse. 

  • There are many options to report to the police and you can choose which is most comfortable for you. You can phone the police and arrange to go into a station, or for the police to come to your home or meet you somewhere else.
  • Your local services such as Rape Crisis, Women's Aid or Refudge might be able to support you through the reporting process, including going with you and providing information. 
  • The police will take an initial report. Try to be as clear and detailed as you can and not to leave anything out. If you can't remember everything, that is OK.
  • If it's a recent rape or sexual assault, they will probably ask you to visit a local Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to collect physical evidence and can hold evidence up to 7 years. In many areas you can visit SARC without reporting your incident. 
  • Depending on the police's investigations, you will then go through a process that could end in your case going to court or might take time from inital report to preosecution. Your police liaison officer will be able to assist you with the information and any questions you may have. 
  • A summary of the reporting process can be found here

If your partner is pursuing you, or attacking you, ring 999 as soon as possible. Silent calls will work if you are not safe to speak. For these calls use the Silent solution and call 999 and then press 55 when prompted. If you can’t use a voice phone, you can register with the police text service by texting REGISTER to 999.  You will get a text which tells you what to do next.  Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger.

If you are deaf or can’t use a phone

  • You can register with the emergencySMS. Text REGISTER to 999. You will get a text which tells you what to do next. Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger.

You could also:

  • Plan an escape route.
    • Think about where you will go so you can call the police or alert a neighbour, and plan a place to meet with your children if you get separated.
  • Move to lower-risk parts of your home, where there is an escape route or access to a phone.
  • Avoid rooms like the kitchen or garage, which contain objects that could be used to hurt you
  • Teach your children how to call 999 in an emergency.
  • If you are not able to get out of the house, barricade or lock yourself into a room, from which you can call the police and contact friends/family or neighbours.

Silent solution

The Silent Solution is a police system used to filter out large numbers of accidental or hoax 999 calls. It also exists to help people who are unable to speak, but who genuinely need police assistance.


Further information 

NHS England - In 2018 the government published a draft Domestic Abuse and Violence Bill to improve protection for victims, linking to the broader work of the Home Office on Violence Against Women and Girls.

Domestic Abuse Act 2021 - U.K. government legislation on domestic abuse act 2021. A summary of the Domestic Abuse Act can be found here

London multiagency adult safeguarding policy and procedures - There is an emphasis on working with adults at risk of abuse and neglect to have greater control in their lives to both prevent it from happening, and to give meaningful options of dealing with it should it occur. For staff the Care Act provides clearer guidance, and supports pathways to working in an integrated way, breaking down barriers between organisations.

Care Act 2014 - The core purpose of adult care and support is to help people to achieve the outcomes that matter to them in their life.

NICE Guidelines - This quality standard covers services for domestic violence and abuse in adults and young people (aged 16 and over). It includes identifying and supporting people experiencing domestic violence or abuse, as well as support for those who carry it out.

The Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities Regulations 2014) - The statutory duty of candour as well as fundamental standards of care for regulated providers.

Lambeth council domestic abuse policy - Policy in place through Lambeth council for domestic abuse reporting and procedures. 

Lambeth Made Safer - Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy 2021 – 2027. 

Request information under Clare's Law: Make a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) application.

This scheme gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. It is often called ‘Clare’s Law’ after the landmark case that led to it.

This scheme also allows a member of the public to make an enquiry into the partner of a close friend or family member.

NSPCC - In England, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 recognises children as victims of domestic abuse if they “see, hear or otherwise experience the effects of abuse”.

Child protection system in England NSPCC - The Children Act 1989 provides the legislative framework for child protection in England. 

Key safeguarding legislation and guidance for schools NSPCC - In England, the Department for Education (DfE) provides the key guidance for schools and colleges Keeping children safe in education (DfE, 2021)

London Child Protection Procedures - This procedure is for use by all professionals (the term includes unqualified managers, staff and volunteers) who have contact with children and with adults who are parents / carers, and who therefore have responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

Domestic abuse: draft statutory guidance framework - This guidance is issued under section 84 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 (‘the 2021 Act’) and has been formulated to set standards and promote best practice. The guidance therefore is aimed at statutory and non-statutory bodies working with victims, perpetrators and commissioning services, including the police, local authorities, and the NHS to increase awareness and inform their response to domestic abuse.

Domestic violence and abuse: Safeguarding during the COVID-19 crisis - Aimed at professionals and organisations who are involved in supporting and safeguarding adults and children. The importance of safeguarding adults who are experiencing domestic abuse has not diminished during the COVID-19 crisis.

ADASS - Adult safeguarding and domestic abuse. A guide to support practitioners and managers. 

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation trust - Safeguarding adults from abuse, neglect and improper treatment is a core duty of the Trust. By the nature of services provided within the Trust, it is likely that staff will have contact with adults who are at risk of such abuse. This Policy provides guidance for staff to ensure that the principles of safeguarding adults are embedded in all aspects of Trust practice.

Safeguarding South London CCG Bromley - Support adults who are at risk of abuse and neglect in Bromley. 

Safeguarding South London CCG Lewisham - The Lewisham Accountable Officer ensures that the responsibility to safeguard and prevention of harm to children, young people and vulnerable adults is discharged effectively across the whole health economy through NHS South East London CCG’s commissioning arrangements.

Safe and Well - Mental health and domestic abuse. 

Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) -  A meeting where professionals share information on high-risk cases of domestic abuse and put in place a risk management plan.