Skip to main content

Getting help for domestic violence and abuse

What can I do?

Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. You do not have to wait for an emergency situation to find help. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it's important to tell someone and remember you're not alone.

What should I do scenarios

  • If you are staying with your abuser:

    • Seek professional advice and support from local support and outreach organisations, domestic abuse services and helplines.
    • Consider how agencies can make contact safely, e.g. through a work number or at a friend’s address.
    • Consider where you can quickly and easily use a telephone and try to establish safe people to contact – memorise a list of numbers for use in an emergency, such as friends, police or support organisations.
    • Consider a signal (such as a codeword) with children, family, neighbours, friends or colleagues which will alert them to call the police if help is needed.
    • Think through escape routes in advance, avoiding rooms with no exit or rooms which may contain potential weapons (e.g. bathroom or kitchen) where possible.
    • Try to put money aside for fares and other expenses.
    • Seek and obtain medical help for any injuries ensuring that they are recorded and if possible photographed ‒ these may be used at a later date to support court cases or rehousing applications.
    • Consider changing online passwords regularly, especially for social networking accounts – this may not be appropriate where the perpetrator regularly accesses your accounts as part of coercive control as it may escalate risk.
    • Avoid the use of sat navs and be aware that the perpetrator may monitor your movements by checking the sat nav history if not deleted.
  • If you are planning to leave:

    • Take care over whom to trust with any plans that you are making to leave.
    • Avoid sat nav use when travelling to a prospective new home or destination and always delete the history if you do – your abuser may check it to see where you have been and find out what you are planning.
    • Consider whether or not a civil order is a viable option – seek legal advice.
    • Make an extra set of keys for home and/or car and store them somewhere safe.
    • Make up a bag with spare clothes, telephone numbers, keys, money and keep it safe so you can take it quickly, or keep it with a trusted friend.

    Have the following available in case you have to leave quickly:

    • Important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, driving licence, divorce papers, lease or mortgage papers, passports, insurance information, school and medical records, welfare and immigration documents, court documents.
    • Credit cards, bank account number online passwords, especially for banking and social media.
    • Some money.
    • Extra sets of keys – for car, house and work.
    • Medications and prescriptions, including those for children.
    • Telephone numbers and addresses for family, friends, doctors, lawyers and community agencies.
    • Clothing and comfort items for you and the children.
    • Photographs and other items of sentimental value such as jewellery.
    • Take identification that might help others to protect you from the abuser, such as a recent photo of the abuser and their car details.
    • Talk to children about the possibility of leaving and try to take all the children, whatever long-term arrangements might be.
    • Avoid making any unusual changes to routine which may alert your abuser that something is going on.
  • If you are living without your abuser after separation (in your own home or after moving):

    • Seek expert legal advice on child contact and residence applications, and about options for civil orders.
    • Change telephone numbers to ex-directory, screen calls and pre-programme emergency numbers into the telephone.
    • Change all online passwords, especially for social networking accounts, and check privacy settings on social media sites.
    • Take your sat nav with you or delete its history if you are leaving it behind.
    • Change the locks and install a security system, smoke alarms and an outside lighting system.
    • Notify neighbours, employers and schools about any injunction, and ask them to call the police immediately if they see the abuser nearby.
    • Make sure that schools and those who care for your children know who has authorisation to collect them.
    • Employ safety measures before, during and after contact visits with children.
    • Consider changing children’s schools, work patterns – hours and route taken – and the route taken to transport the children to school.
    • Avoid banks, shops, and other places frequented when living with the abuser.
    • Make up a codeword for family, colleagues, teachers or friends, so that they know when to call the police for help.
    • Keep copies of all relevant paperwork (including civil injunctions) and make written records of any further incidents.

Advice to give a friend or relation being abused

Find out information about your friend or loved one’s rights and the services available so they can make informed choices – for example, contact specialist support agencies such as Women’s Aid or Men's Advisory Project who can provide practical and emotional support.

Agree a code word or action that if he/she says to you or you see, you know they’re in danger and cannot access help alone.

Find out information for your friend or loved one so they can make informed choices.

Get some support yourself. You have to be strong if you’re going to be able to help them. Most domestic abuse services are happy to help with any worries you may have or provide suggestions as to other actions you might take.

Most importantly, don’t give up on them. You might be their only lifeline.