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Domestic abuse: How to get help

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

There are millions of people who experience domestic abuse every year and we want to make sure that those who are facing abuse, know how to get the help they need.

Domestic abuse can make victims feel isolated and, during the current lockdown, being isolated with an abuser could be truly horrific and potentially fatal.

It has been reported in the news recently that cases of domestic abuse have risen sharply since lockdown began.

For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, or believes they know someone who is, it is important to remember that there is help and support available.

What is abuse?

Every couple has arguments or disagreements. In a respectful and equal relationship, both partners feel free to state their opinions, to make their own decisions, to be themselves.

But this is not the case when someone is abusive. In an abusive relationship, one partner tries to dominate the other through physical harm, criticisms, demands, threats, or sexual pressure. For the victim, this behaviour can be very dangerous, frightening, confusing and damaging.

Psychological or emotional abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse. Abuse in a relationship is never acceptable, regardless of the circumstances, and is never the fault of the victim. Abuse is not caused by alcohol, or stress, or by the victim’s behaviour. Abuse happens because the abuser wants to control and manipulate the other person. Physical and sexual assault, threats and stalking are crimes and can be reported to the police.

How do you spot a victim of domestic abuse?

It might be trickier to spot the signs of domestic violence during this time of lockdown, but even remotely via video calling or catching up over the telephone, you may be able to spot the signs:

  • Low self-esteem – issues with confidence 
  • Anxiety towards the end of the day – and perhaps a change in ability to manage workload
  • Avoidance of social calls/not attending social calls without notice and without explanation
  • Bruises and wearing inappropriate clothing to cover bruises
  • Unexplained aches and pains

How to support someone who might be experiencing domestic violence

It can be really worrying when someone you care about is being hurt or abused by their partner. The most important thing is to talk to them and listen to what they have to say without passing judgement or opinion. Be aware of where they can go for help, and don’t get frustrated if they choose not to accept help. Anxiety and fear are overwhelming and there are huge obstacles people will face when leaving an abusive relationship.

Start to learn about different support agencies and signpost them to the agencies for advice and support. Encourage them to keep a log of incidents, along with evidence of their abuse, so that when they are ready to accept help they will be in a better position to move forward in a positive way.

Services that can help:

Cambridge Women’s Aid (City/East/South Cambs) 01223 361214

Refuge (Fenland/Hunts/Peterborough) 07787 255821

National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

Men’s Advice Line 0808 8010 327

LGBT Helpline 0800 999 5428

Women’s Aid Online Chat

Honour-Based Abuse 0800 5999 247

Respect phone line (for perpetrators of abuse) 0808 802 4040

Call your doctor to seek a referral for counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy 

If you are in immediate danger call 999

Making silent calls to police

If you are in immediate danger and able to dial 999 but unable to speak, pressing 55 or tapping the handset will alert the call operator that you are a genuine caller and that you need help.

Try to listen to the instructions given by the call operator about what to do next and call from a landline if you can.


If home isn't safe, support is available poster