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Domestic abuse

What is domestic abuse?

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence is 'any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.'

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

  • Physical abuse: pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking and using weapons.
  • Sexual abuse: forcing or pressuring someone to have sex (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping someone or making them watch pornography.
  • Financial abuse: taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work.
  • Emotional abuse / coercive control: repeatedly making someone feel bad or scared, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone, playing mind games. Coercive control is now a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015.
  • Digital / online abuse: using technology to further isolate, humiliate or control someone.
  • Honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation  

How we can help

We believe that all survivors of domestic abuse should be able to get the help they need, and the support that will empower them to move on from the impact of abuse. We don’t just help people who’ve recently experienced domestic abuse – we’re here to support both men and women, weeks, months and years afterwards.

We have different services in different parts of the country. All of our services are confidential, free and available to anyone who's experienced domestic violence. We can help, regardless of whether you’ve told the police or anyone else about the abuse.

  • Our IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advocates) services are staffed by specialist caseworkers and supported by specialist volunteers. These workers will help you to decide what action you want to take and the support and help that feels right for you. IDVAs often support survivors through the criminal justice system, if you choose to report the crime, and co-ordinate health and support services.
  • We have domestic abuse outreach services, which are provided by specialist caseworkers and volunteers who will work with you in the community, co-ordinating support and providing direct practical and emotional support. We work from health services, police stations, hospitals and community centres to provide information and support to a wide number of people.
  • Our victims’ service supports people affected by any crime. We’ll help you decide on the range of support and help that might benefit you.

Find out about our confidentiality policy.

Get support now

Anyone affected by crime in England or Wales can contact us directly if they want to – you don’t need to talk to the police to get our help.

You can contact us by:

If English is not your first language and you would like some support, call our Supportline and let us know which language you speak, and we will call you back with an interpreter as soon as possible. We also welcome calls via Next Generation Text on 18001 08 08 16 89 111.

If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, contact Victim Support Scotland or Victim Support NI for help.

Help for young people

Families and friends affected by crime can also contact us for support and information. If you’re a child or young person under 18 and are looking for support, visit our You & Co website, where we have lots of information and tips specifically for children and young people.

Other organisations that can help

Related links

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