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What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse can be defined as a pattern of aggressive and controlling behaviour by one adult to another, usually, in the context of an intimate relationship. Violence can be actual or threatened and the abuse inflicted can be physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, or financial. Some victims of domestic abuse feel they are in some way to blame for the behaviour. This response may be actively encouraged by the perpetrator and can be part of the abusive pattern of behaviour. The Refuge website has information about what is domestic violence, and lists some signs of domestic abuse, to help you recognise if you are being subjected to it.

Most domestic abuse is committed by men against women, and one in four women is abused during her lifetime. However, men can also be victims of abuse from women, and domestic abuse also takes place in same sex relationships. There is specific advice for men who are being abused on the Refuge website. What is less well documented is the abuse of adult siblings towards each other; parents towards adult children; and adult children towards parents. There is also increasing evidence to show how seriously affected children are by domestic abuse between parents.

Victims of domestic abuse may need to leave the abusive person and/or bring charges against them if they have been physically or sexually violent. This, however, may not be the best option in every case. There are other options that can be explored, for example: leaving temporarily; getting your partner to leave or supporting your partner to get help.

If you are experiencing abusive behaviour, it is important to remember that the abuse is not your fault, that domestic abuse is against the law, and that you don't have to deal with this on your own. You can get advice and support to help you decide what course of action you might want to take from the Advice and Counselling Service, as well as the external organisations listed below. 

Support from the Advice and Counselling Service

You can contact us to arrange to see a Counsellor, to get support with the difficult emotions you may be experiencing as a result of domestic abuse, or fear of domestic abuse. Having the space to think about your feelings in a confidential setting can help you to decide what action you want to take (if any), and can help you to feel emotionally supported in your choice.

You can contact us to arrange to see a Welfare Adviser, who can offer you advice and guidance with practical issues. It is important to understand that Welfare Advisers will always work from your point of view; they will not impose any decisions on you. The adviser will help you to understand what options are available, and then if you decide to take action, they will offer you advice and support to help you achieve this. If you decide to move away from the abuser, we can help you to plan how to do this safely, to find alternative accommodation, and to access financial support. If your situation is adversely affecting your studies, we can advise you about academic options such as submitting a claim for Extenuating Circumstances if you have been unable to attend exams, or taking time out of your studies. If you also want to get help from an external agency, a Welfare Adviser can help you to contact them, and if you wish, can work together with you and the external agency to help you move away from the domestic abuse. 

Please be reassured that the Advice and Counselling Service is confidential. This means that the fact that you have attended appointments at the Advice and Counselling Service, and anything discussed during appointments, will not normally be passed to anyone outside the Service without your permission.  You can read our Confidentiality policy here.

Organisations for people experiencing domestic abuse

Women's Aid were set up to stop domestic and sexual violence towards women. They have a free 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline and can put women who need to escape from a violent situation in touch with emergency refuge accommodation. Information includes advice about how to get help, personal safety and what to do to help a friend in danger of domestic violence.
National Domestic Violence Helpline (Run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge): 0808 2000 247

Refuge run a network of safe houses for women and children threatened by violence. The website has useful information about different aspects of domestic violence and how to find a place in a refuge.

Domestic Violence Advice and Advisory Service is based at St Andrews Health Centre, 2 Hannaford Walk E3 3FF. Book an appointment with an adviser by calling 020 8980 1888 or speak to a receptionist at St Andrews Health Centre.

London Black Women's Project - 020 8472 0528, provide support and refuge services for women needing to escape from violent situations including forced marriage. They also have a resource centre with services including legal advice, counselling, support groups and information.

Aanchal Women's Aid is an organisation based in Newham which provides help to South Asian women affected by domestic abuse. Their services include emergency care, emotional support, and legal advice.

Asha Projects is a South Asian organisation that works to end violence against women and girls, including forced marriage.  They provide confidential advice and information and they also have access to secure, temporary accommodation.

Rights of Women helps women through the law by providing free confidential legal advice on issues including domestic violence and abuse, divorce and civil partnership dissolution and issues relating to children. 

Victim Support offers confidential emotional support and advice for victims of crime including domestic violence.. They also have a Witness Service to support people before, during or after legal proceedings.
Helpline: 0845 30 30 900

Men's Advice Line is a freephone helpline providing emotional support, information and advice to male victims of violence by partners or ex-partners whether gay or heterosexual.

Broken Rainbow support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic abuse.

LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership provide signposting to support to those in abusive LGBT relationships.

The Ann Craft Trust
0115 951 5400
The Ann Craft Trust offers advice to professionals, parents, carers and family members on issues relating to the protection of vulnerable children and adults. You can contact them about general issues but they are also happy to give advice about specific cases. If they are unable to answer your question, they will try to find you the most appropriate person to talk to about your concerns. If you have been abused and would like to talk to someone contact the Respond Helpline on 0808 808 0700.

The Asian Family Counselling Service
020 85713933
This is a national service offering counselling on marital and family issues for Asian men and women. The national helpline is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Telephone counselling is also available.

Honour Network
0800 5999 247
The Honour Network helpline is a confi dential helpline providing emotional and practical support and advice for victims and survivors (male & female) of forced marriage and/or honour based violence and abuse. It provides advice and support to potential victims, victims in crisis and professional agencies.

Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation
0207 490 0303 (9.30-5.00) or 07862 733511 (24hrs)
IKWRO provides advice, support, advocacy and referral in Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, Dari and Farsi to women, girls and couples living in Britain, in particular helping women facing domestic violence, forced marriage and  ‘honour’-based violence. Their mission is to protect Middle Eastern women at risk of ‘honour’ killings,domestic violence, forced marriages and female genital mutilation, and to support them in upholding their right to live without fear or oppression.

Southall Black Sisters
020 8571 9595
This is a resource centre offering information, advice, advocacy, practical help, counselling, and support to black and minority women experiencing domestic abuse. Southall Black Sisters specialise in forced marriage particularly in relation to South Asian women. The office is open weekdays (except Wednesday) 10.00 – 12.30 and 13.30 –16.00.

Child Line
0800 1111
This service is for any child or young person with a problem.

0808 800 5000 (helpline) 0800 056 0566 (text phone)
This free, 24-hour helpline provides information, advice and counselling to anyone concerned about a child at risk of abuse.

reunite International Child Abduction Centre
0116 2556234 (advice line)
reunite is the leading charity specialising in international parental child abduction. It operates a 24- hour advice line providing advice, support and information to parents, family members and guardians who have had a child abducted or who fear abduction. reunite also supports and informs parents who have abducted their children and assists with international contact issues. reunite’s advice is impartial and confidential to one or both parties involved in an international parental child abduction case. Reunite also provides information and support on the issue of forced marriage.

Organisations for people concerned about their own behaviour

If you are aware of being violent or threatening towards people close to you, the following organisations can help you in taking steps to change your behaviour:

Respect Phoneline is a helpline for people who are concerned about their abusive or violent behaviour towards their partners. They help direct people to programmes that support people to change their aggressive behaviours.

The Everyman Project provide a helpline and range of support services for men who want to change their violent behaviour. They also run a partner support programme.

The Refuge website has information for men who are abusing their partner.

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