Our staff and volunteers have worked with thousands of people affected by domestic abuse, helping them move forward with practical and emotional support.

Many survivors of domestic abuse have faced similar questions and barriers in asking for help; here are just some of the most common challenges that survivors have shared with us.

There’s often a high level of violence and threat in relationships where domestic abuse is present and this can be intensified if there are children in the household.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, Victim Support and other specialist agencies can help you to think through your options and safety plan to ensure that, whatever decision you make, there are safeguards and support in place for you and your family members.

This is a common worry for people experiencing domestic abuse. Ending a relationship will impact on children, but research shows that children living in families where domestic abuse is present are at a much greater risk of both physical and emotional abuse.

Making sure that you and your children are physically and emotionally safe is the priority.

The aim of social services is to support the person affected by domestic abuse to ensure their safety, and that of their children or vulnerable adults. Their focus is to help the non-abusive parent continue to care effectively for their child or children.

Social services can help to find local organisations that can support you and your children, including housing, health services and domestic abuse support services. If children or vulnerable adults are living in homes where domestic abuse is present, agencies have a duty to inform social services so that this support can be offered.

Victim Support and other victims’ organisations will always believe a survivor of domestic abuse asking for help, and we will work with you to identify other forms of support that might be needed. We can also advocate with other organisations to ensure you do feel believed.

Statutory agencies, such as the police and social services, are trained to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and respond appropriately.

Many people who experience domestic abuse worry that asking for help means they’ll be expected to leave their abuser, but leaving or remaining in the relationship is your choice. Organisations like Victim Support will work with you to help you think through your options and choices.

We know that people in abusive relationships can have lower levels of confidence when it comes to making decisions, or they may be regularly told by their abuser that they can’t manage on their own.

If you decide to leave, we can help you source financial, housing, health and legal support, and educational support for your children. Whatever your decision, safety planning is important; we will help you to build your support network and work with you to keep you and your children safe.

Adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA) is increasingly becoming recognised as an area where families need support.

It can be caused by many different things and it’s often difficult for parents to ask for help when the violence they are experiencing is coming from their own child. But it’s important for the child and other members of the family that support and interventions are provided to keep everyone safe, and to stop the violence from increasing or extending outside of the home.

Victims’ organisations should be able to provide help, as well as your local children’s services department.

For some groups of people there can be additional barriers to asking for help. There are organisations that can support people who may face extra challenges or discrimination, including:

  • lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people
  • people from black and minority ethnic communities
  • people who practice certain religions
  • people who have physical disabilities
  • people with learning difficulties
  • people who have mental health issues.

Lots of people in the above groups will have many of the same experiences as others in an unhealthy relationship. All support organisations will be understanding of your situation, but there are some specialist organisations set up just to support unique situations that not everyone deals with. There are also organisations that work with and understand the issues faced by people of different genders experiencing domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is one of the crimes most commonly reported to police, and significant training and resources have been put into police forces to respond effectively and supportively to victims. Despite this, many people who experience domestic abuse still find it difficult to ask for help or report to the police. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of trust in the police, fear of repercussions or fear that you won’t be believed.  You don’t have to have reported to the police to be supported by us.

Find out more about reporting a crime to the police.

Often, because domestic abuse can impact on many areas of your and your children’s lives, the best way to help you will be through a number of different agencies coming together to support you.

Professionals will work with you to complete a risk assessment to determine the right support options for you. If you are assessed as being at high risk of serious violence, the professional completing the assessment will usually refer your case to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC). Here, agencies such as the police, children’s services, housing services, specialist domestic violence agencies and health professionals will work together alongside you to co-ordinate support and a safety plan for you.

When you report a crime to the police, they should automatically ask you if you would like help from an organisation like Victim Support. But anyone affected by crime 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 Relay UK on 18001 08 08 16 89 111.

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.