What is domestic violence and abuse?

We define domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it. Domestic abuse is a crime.

National Domestic Violence Helpline
Freephone, 24-hour helpline: 0808 2000 247


(24/7 service) – 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. Call their free support line on 0808 168 9111 or contact them online

National Centre for Domestic Violence

A free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic abuse and violence: 0800 970 2070

Rape Crisis UK

Provide specialist support and services to women and girls who have experienced sexual violence.

Rights of Women

A women’s charity aim to provide women with the legal advice and information.

Women's Aid

Survivor-centred website offers a live chat, directly supporting survivors through national support services.

Men’s Advice Line 

For male domestic abuse survivors: 0808 801 0327


Support for men witnessing, experiencing or supporting others who are experiencing domestic violence: 01823 334244

Respect Helpline

A confidential helpline, email and webchat service for domestic abuse perpetrators and those supporting them: 0808 8024040

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse

Helpline for LGBT+ people who have or are experiencing domestic abuse. Telephone: 0800 999 5428

Safe Lives

UK-wide charity supporting friends, family members, neighbours and colleagues experiencing domestic abuse.


Support for people with learning disabilities who have experienced trauma/abuse: 0808 808 0700


Domestic and sexual abuse support for the deaf community. Telephone: 020 3947 2600 Text: 079 7035 0366

Karma Nirvana

Advice and support for victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage: 0800 5999 247

Forced Marriage Unit

Government office providing information and advice for British nationals forced into marriage. Telephone: 020 7008 0151 or Out of hours telephone: 020 7008 1500

IKWRO Women's Rights Organisation

Supporting women and girls of Middle Eastern, North African (MENA) and Afghan origin. 

London Black Women's Project

Specialist and dedicated organisation for BME women and girls who experience violence and abuse and/or who are at risk. Telephone: 0808 2000 247 

Asian Women Resource Centre

Support to women and children who have been affected by domestic abuse, forced marriages, honour based and faith-based abuse. Telephone: 020 8961 5701

Chinese Information and Advice Centre

Free information, advice and support to.women and families in distress, advice and support to victims of domestic violence. 

The Mix

Free information and support for under 25s in the UK: 0808 808 4994

Psychological abuse
Includes name-calling, threats and manipulation, blaming you for the abuse or ‘gas-lighting’ you.

Economic abuse
Controlling your access to money or resources. They might take your wages, stop you working, or put you in debt.

Sexual abuse
Doesn’t have to be physical. They might manipulate or coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do.

Coercive control
When an abuser uses a pattern of behaviour over time to exert power and control. It is a criminal offence.

Physical abuse
Not only hitting. They might restrain you or throw objects. They might pinch or shove you and claim it’s a ‘joke’.

Tech abuse
They might send abusive texts, demand access to your devices, track you with spyware, or share images of you online.

  • Is your partner jealous and possessive?
  • Are they charming one minute and abusive the next?
  • Do they tell you what to wear, where to go, who to see?
  • Do they constantly put you down?
  • Do they play mind games and make you doubt your judgment?
  • Do they control your money?
  • Do they pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making them angry?
  • Do they monitor or track your movements or messages?
  • Do they use anger and intimidation to frighten and control you?

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.

The Keeping Well service is here to help you support you, start a live chat with us by clicking on the orange speech bubble. If you feel like you are in immediate danger, please call 999 as soon as possible. 

If you are unable to speak, silent calls will work if you are not safe to talk. For these calls use the Silent solution:

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’re worried about someone you care about (a friend, family member, loved one or colleague) learn more about how you can support them.

How to create a supportive conversation
  • Listen and offer sensitive, non-judgemental support
  • Acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiences of abuse
  • Tell them that nobody deserves to be treated that way
  • Avoid asking why they haven't left the relationship (statistics show that there is a rise in the likelihood of violence after leaving an abusive relationship, click here for more information on this)
  • Treat disclosures of domestic violence as confidential
  • If there are any immediate safety concerns call 999 or security
  • Help arrange further support (e.g. Independent Domestic Violence Advisor, Staff Counselling, Employee Assistance Programme)
  • Consider additional care when both victim and perpetrator work at the same organisation

The workplace can often be a lifeline for survivors of domestic violence as it offers an opportunity to seek help, and colleagues are well placed to spot the following signs:

Changes in work productivity

  • Missing deadlines
  • Reduced quality and quantity of work
  • Frequent absences or lateness

Behaviour changes

  • Becoming quiet, anxious, frightful, tearful, aggressive, distracted
  • Withdrawing from support

Physical changes

  • Visible bruising or single or repeated injury
  • Wearing unsuitable clothing e.g. big jumpers on a hot day
  • Substance use/misuse

Other signs

  • Partner or ex-partner showing up around the workplace
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Unexpected gifts arriving at the workplace

The Department of Health have created a useful guide on how to respond to colleagues experiencing domestic abuse.

Support guide for staff experiencing Domestic Abuse

Central and North West London Foundation Trust launched two useful documents for staff to help colleagues support other staff who are suffering abuse at home:

The guide was created by the CNWL Domestic Abuse Ambassador Network.

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Bright Sky is a mobile app and website for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or who is worried about someone else.

The app can be downloaded for free from the app stores. Only download the app if it is safe for you to do so and if you are sure that your phone isn’t being monitored.


Women’s Aid local support services directory

Women’s Aid have a directory of domestic abuse support services across the UK.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or are worried about friends or family, you can access the Women’s Aid live chat service 7 days a week, 10am to 6pm. Email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk

Victim Support

Victim Support run these services for victims and survivors of any abuse or crime, regardless of when it occurred or if the crime was reported to the police:


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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. They will offer you a private space, provide a phone and ask if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.


Clare's Law

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.

Talk to us at Keeping Well

We are here to help support you. Get in touch with us below by: