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Domestic abuse 

Understanding domestic abuse

Anyone can become a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of their sex, gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background. It can be:

  • psychological or emotional
  • physical
  • violent or threatening behaviour
  • sexual
  • economic or financial
  • controlling or coercive behaviour
  • online or digital
  • stalking

Domestic abuse doesn’t just happen between partners who live together. It could be between family members or people living separately.

What you can do if it happens to you 

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, it’s important to remember it’s not your fault. Help is available, and you will always be treated with kindness and respect.

  1. Try talking to someone you trust. This can be very difficult, but telling someone can help you to make important decisions and get extra support if you need it.
  2. Contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. They can listen and give you confidential advice on whatever you need – whether that’s emotional support or help with practicalities, like housing and benefits. If you need a British Sign Language interpreter or would rather speak to someone online, go to Find out more about how to get help for domestic abuse.
  3. Report the abuse to the police. They will take it seriously and will be able to protect you. In an emergency call 999. If it’s not an emergency, you can call them on 101, report online or go to your local police station.

What to do if you think someone is being hurt 

Try talking to the person about their situation. Ask if they are OK, offer them support and let them know this is not acceptable behaviour. You could also write down what you’ve seen and offer to help report it.

You could contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 to ask for advice. You can also talk to the police by calling 101, or by calling 999 if it’s an emergency.

Find out more about how to help someone who might be a victim of domestic abuse.

After reporting domestic abuse 

As the victim of a serious crime, you’re entitled to extra help from the police, courts and victim services. This could include:

  • arranging for a specialist support service to contact you
  • letting you know about special measures that could help you give evidence in court

You can read more about your rights in the Victims’ Code.

Emergency injunctions

Depending on the circumstances of your abuse, the police may be able to apply for court bail conditions and a protective order to give you further protection, such as a domestic violence protection order or a stalking protection order.

You may also be able to apply for a non-molestation order directly to the family court.

Find out more about emergency injunctions.


Special measures

The extra support a court can provide to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses give their best evidence. These measures could include putting screens around the witness box. 

Victims’ Code

The Victims’ Code explains the rights that everyone can expect to receive as a victim of crime. Different versions are available, including leaflets, an easy-read booklet, and the full code in English and Welsh.

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