Domestic abuse

How do I know if I am a victim of domestic abuse?

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, whatever your gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, socio-economic status or background.

Domestic abuse is controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence. It can be one incident or a pattern of incidences.

Domestic abuse is often carried out by a partner or ex-partner, but can also be by a family member or carer. It is very common.

Arguments and disagreements with partners and family members are a normal part of life. We all do things that cause unhappiness to the people we care about and that we regret. It is when this behaviour happens regularly and forms a consistent pattern that it can be a sign of domestic abuse.

If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, there is help available.

Ask yourself:

  • Have you ever felt afraid of your partner or former partner?
  • Have you ever changed your behaviour because you’re afraid of what your partner, or former partner, might do?

Emotional abuse

Does your partner, or former partner, ever:

  • put you down or belittle you?
  • deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
  • blame you for the abuse or arguments?
  • stop you going to college or work?
  • isolate you from your family and friends?
  • make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
  • try to tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, what to do and think?
  • control your money or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?

Threats and intimidation

Does your partner, or former partner, ever:

  • read your emails, texts or letters?
  • harass or follow you?
  • destroy things that belong to you?
  • stand over you, invade your personal space?
  • threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • threaten to kill themselves or the children?

Physical abuse

Does your partner, or former partner, ever:

  • throw things?
  • slap, hit or punch you?
  • push or shove you?
  • bite or kick you?
  • burn you?
  • choke you or hold you down?

Sexual abuse

Remember, sexual abuse can happen to anyone, whatever their sex or sexual orientation.

Does your partner, or former partner, ever:

  • make unwanted sexual demands?
  • pressure you to have sex?
  • hurt you during sex?
  • touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
  • pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?

If your partner, or former partner, has sex with you when you don’t want to, this is rape.

Coercive control is often a pattern of behaviour and acts. This can be threats, humiliation, intimidation and assaults intended to harm, punish or frighten the victim and make them dependent on the perpetrator. 

How do you know if this is happening to you?

Some common examples of coercive controlling behaviour are:

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Repeatedly putting you down – saying you’re useless, ugly, no-one else would put up with you
  • Humiliating or degrading you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or being intimidating
  • Monitoring how you spend your time
  • Monitoring or tracking your movements via online communication tools or spyware
  • Taking control of your everyday life – where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
  • Stopping you accessing support services, such as healthcare

Financial abuse is an aspect of coercive control and doesn’t usually happen in isolation. Abusers use other abusive behaviour to reinforce the financial abuse.

Financial abuse can include:

  • Depriving you of money for basic living essentials such as food and clothing.
  • Stopping you accessing your own bank accounts so you have no independent income.
  • Making you responsible for debts built up by your abusive partner.
  • Depriving you of child maintenance money – this can happen even after an abusive partner has left the home.

Financial abuse is often designed to prevent you having the means to escape the abusive relationship. Many people feel that they have no choice but to stay with an abusive partner. The longer they stay, the more dangerous the situation becomes as abuse often escalates.

Financial abuse doesn’t rely on being in the home, so can continue after separation. The abused partner is often left in debt and lacks the financial security to rebuild their life after leaving.

Stalking is when a person becomes obsessed with or fixated on another person.

The stalker may be someone you know or a complete stranger. Their behaviour may make you feel pestered, anxious, harassed or scared. It is a persistent pattern of unwanted attention such as:

  • repeatedly following you or spying on you
  • making unwanted communication with you
  • regularly giving you unwanted gifts
  • damage to your property
  • threatening you

Individual behaviours and acts may seem trivial, but taken together they form a consistent pattern of behaviour that is frightening and upsetting.

Stalking is a criminal offence. If you report it to the police they will take it seriously.

We sometimes try to hide what is going on from children to try and protect them, but this can leave them feeling powerless, scared, confused and angry.

Do talk to your children – and listen to them. Do this in an age-appropriate way. Most children will be glad to have the opportunity to acknowledge the abuse and to talk about what they are feeling.

Try to be honest about the situation – without frightening them. ­Remember, your children will naturally trust you – try not to break that trust by lying to them.

Reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that they are not responsible for the adult behaviours they are experiencing.

Explain that abuse is wrong and that it does not solve problems.

Encourage your children to talk about their hopes and feelings. You could do an activity together where you have the opportunity to talk. You could encourage them to draw or write about what is happening and how they feel about it. Teachers may be able to help you.

Give them time and space. Children will often wait until they feel safe and are out of the abusive environment before they start to open up about their feelings.

Teach them how to get emergency help. Show them how to dial 999 and what to say. Make sure they know they are not responsible for protecting you if you are being attacked.

Boost their self-esteem. Regular praise, attention and affection will help them to cope with the situation.

Ask for help. By asking for help yourself you show your child that it is nothing to be ashamed of and that you cannot be expected to cope alone.

Talk about the what will happen if you leave your abusive partner. You may think it is better for your children if you try to keep the family together, but children will feel more safe and secure living with one parent in a stable environment than with two parents in an unstable and abusive environment.

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and listen to the questions from the operator and if possible, respond by coughing or tapping the head set.

Call 999 from a mobile

If prompted, press 55 and this will transfer your call to the police.

Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.

Call 999 from a landline

If only background noise can be heard and operators cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, then you will be connected to a police call handler.

If you replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick up again.

When 999 calls are made from landlines, information about your location should be automatically available to the call handlers to help provide a response.

If you are deaf or can’t communicate verbally

You can register with the emergencySMS service. Text 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.

I’m concerned about someone I know who might be in an abusive relationship

If you are worried someone is being abused or is abusing, let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong.

There are some simple things you can do to support a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour or anyone you know who confides in you about domestic abuse.

Tell them how worried and concerned you are about them. Here are some practical ways you can help:

  • Listen, without judgement or blame
  • Give them time to talk, but don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to
  • Acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation
  • Tell them it takes great strength to talk about experiencing abuse
  • Tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said
  • Support them as a friend – encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions
  • Don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they’re not ready – they have to make that decision
  • Ask if they have suffered physical harm – offer to go with them to a hospital or GP if they need to
  • Help them report the assault to the police if they choose to
  • Be ready with information on organisations that support people experiencing domestic abuse. Explore the options together.
  • Help them arrange to see a solicitor if they want to, and offer to go with them
  • Help them create a safe plan for leaving an abusive relationship
  • Let them create their own boundaries of what they think is safe and what is not safe; it is important that you don’t encourage them to follow any plans that they have doubts about
  • Offer them the use of your address and/or telephone number to send/leave information and messages
  • Offer to look after an emergency bag for them, if they want this

It is important you look after yourself. Do not put yourself in a dangerous situation by:

  • trying to physically protect or defend the person being abused
  • offering to talk to the abuser about the situation
  • being seen as a threat to the relationship.

You should also make sure you have emotional support of your own to help you through this emotionally difficult time, and look after your physical health.

If you believe someone is in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.

If you feel you are also in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and listen to the questions from the operator and if possible, respond by coughing or tapping the head set.

Call 999 from a mobile

If prompted, press 55 to Make Yourself Heard and this will transfer your call to the police.

Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.

Call 999 from a landline

If only background noise can be heard and operators cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, then you will be connected to a police call handler.

If you replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick up again.

When 999 calls are made from landlines, information about your location should be automatically available to the call handlers to help provide a response.

If you are deaf or can’t verbally communicate

You can register with the emergencySMS service. Text 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.

Local support

Find local domestic abuse support around Doncaster

Tel: 01302 737080

Email: dahub@doncaster.gov.uk

Website: doncaster.gov.uk

Doncaster Council, in partnership with other specialist providers of domestic abuse support, have created a Domestic Abuse Hub which means that there is simple way of accessing support for anyone that wants help.  Partners in the Hub include Doncaster Council, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Riverside and Phoenix WoMen’s Aid.

Tel: 01302 360421

Website: www.drasacs.org.uk

Doncaster Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service (DRASACS) is an independent charity that has been helping victims of sexual violence since 1987. They are not part of the Police, NHS or any other public service.

What do DRASACS do?

  • Relieve the distress of people who have suffered from rape or sexual abuse, in particular by providing a counselling and advocacy service
  • Relieve the distress of people supporting and/or caring for adults or children who have suffered from sexual violence
  • Advance the education of the public and other professionals, by raising awareness of the issue of sexual assault.

Tel: 07932 069 153

Website: www.phoenixwomensaid.org.uk

Supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

Our services include advice, counselling, advocacy, training, office-based and out in the community 7 days a week.

National support organisations

See what national support is available for domestic abuse.

Tel: 0800 1111

Website: www.childline.org.uk

A free, private and confidential service where you can talk about anything. Whatever your worry, whenever you need help, we’re here for you online, on the phone, anytime. Childline can be contacted 24/7.

Tel: 0800 999 5428

Email: help@galop.org.uk

Website: www.galop.org.uk

Galop is the UK’s only specialist LGBT+ anti-violence charity who provide advice, support and advocacy to people who have experienced hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual violence. Galop is an independent organisation, services are confidential and free.

Tel: 01823 334244 (weekdays 10am–4pm)

Website: www.mankind.org.uk

Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence. Services include:

  • Simply someone to talk to
  • Giving you confidence
  • Helping you to realise you are not blame
  • How to report incidents
  • Planning an escape
  • Police procedures
  • Housing and refuge support
  • Local councils and other local support services
  • Legal services (including solicitors who will help)

Tel: 0808 801 0327

Email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk

Website: www.mensadviceline.org.uk

Monday: 9am–8pm
Tuesday: 9am– 5pm
Wednesday: 9am–8pm
Thursday: 9am–5pm
Friday: 9am–5pm

Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline, email and webchat service for male victims of domestic abuse. They offer advice and emotional support to men who experience abuse, and signpost to other vital services that help men keep themselves (and their children) safe.

Tel: 0808 800 5000

Email: help@nspcc.org.uk

Website: www.nspcc.org.uk

The NSPCC works to protect children today and prevent abuse from happening tomorrow. If you’re worried about a child, even if you’re unsure, contact our helpline to speak to one of our counsellors.

Tel: 0808 2000 247

Website: www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk

Refuge’s specialist services include refuges, independent advocacy, community outreach projects, culturally specific services and the 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline.

Tel: 0808 802 4040

Email: info@respectphoneline.org.uk

Website: www.respectphoneline.org.uk

Respect Phoneline is a team of friendly Advisors who will listen to you without judgment and offer you honest advice to help you stop using violent and abusive behaviours.

Telephone: 020 3947 2601

Text/WhatsApp/Facetime: 07970 350366

Email: da@signhealth.org.uk

Website: www.signhealth.org.uk

SignHealth provides domestic abuse service support for deaf people in British Sign Language (BSL).

Email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk

Website: www.womensaid.org.uk

Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. The Survivor’s Handbook is a resource for people experiencing domestic violence. The handbook comprises short sections covering every aspect of seeking help and support, and includes information on how to help a friend who is experiencing domestic violence and safety planning.

  • Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline
  • Online support
  • Refuge accommodation
  • Outreach services
  • Aftercare and resettlement
  • Rail To Refuge Scheme – free train travel to women fleeing domestic abuse

Support Apps

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