Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse, also called "domestic violence", can be defined as a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. 

Recognising the Signs of Domestic Abuse

Does your partner…

  • Shout at or mock you?
  • Make fun of you in front of other people?
  • Ignore you when you try to talk to them?
  • Put down your accomplishments?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with friends or family?
  • Make you feel like you're unable to make decisions?
  • Constantly check up on you to see where you are?
  • Monitor your texts and calls?
  • Pressure you sexually?
  • Treat you roughly—grab, push, shove or hit you?
  • Break things or punch the walls?
  • Make you feel like there's “no way out” of the relationship?
  • Deny the abuse?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for hurting you?
  • Say you make them angry and they can't control their anger?

Support Options

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid is an organisation supporting women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Services they offer include:

The Survivor’s Handbook

This is a free online guide providing practical support and information for women experiencing domestic abuse, with simple guidance on every aspect of seeking support.

Survivor’s Forum

A safe, anonymous, space for women (over 18) who have been affected by domestic abuse to share their experiences and support one another.

Their live chat service can be accessed here (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm and Sat-Sun 10am-12pm).

You can also find your local domestic abuse service on their website.

UK Says No More

UK SAYS NO MORE is working with Boots UK, Superdrug pharmacies, Morrisons pharmacies and independent pharmacies across the UK to provide Safe Spaces in their consultation rooms for people experiencing domestic abuse.

How to Access a Safe Space:

  • Walk into any participating pharmacy in the UK.
  • Ask at the healthcare counter to use their Safe Space.
  • A pharmacist will show you to the Safe Space which will be the consultancy room.
  • Once inside, all the specialist domestic abuse support information will be available for you to access.

Find your nearest Safe Space here.


Refuge supports women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Services they offer include:


Refuges provide emergency temporary accommodation for women and children fleeing abuse.

They give women time and space to make decisions about their futures. They have specialist staff are on hand to provide one-to-one emotional and practical support.

Outreach Workers

Some women may not need, or may not want, to access refuge accommodation.

Women may benefit instead from confidential practical and emotional outreach support in their own home or in a safe place in the community.

Some may be living with their abuser, whilst others may have left but still need support.

Their experts provide one-to-one emotional and practical support, including around safety planning, housing applications and financial empowerment.

Live Chat (Mon-Fri, 3pm-10pm)

Use Refuge’s live chat service to talk to their expert, all-female Helpline team online, in confidence.


For support, call their Helpline on 0808 2000 247 (freephone, 24-hour).

Apply for a Disclosure of Information

Under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as ‘Clare’s Law’), you can ask the police to check whether a new, former or existing partner has a violent past.

This is called ‘right to ask’. If records show that you may be at risk of domestic abuse from a partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.

The ‘right to ask’ also allows a third party, such as a friend or family member, to apply for a disclosure on behalf of someone they know.

To make an application under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, contact the police. You can do this by:

  • Visiting a police station (the household isolation instruction as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse)
  • Phoning 101
  • Speaking to a member of the police on the street


Respect provides an Advice Line and email support service for men experiencing domestic violence.

Advisors will believe you, offer you non-judgmental emotional support, practical advice and information.

Telephone: 0808 8010327 (freephone, Mon–Fri 9am-8pm)

Email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk (Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat & Sun 10am-12pm & 4pm-6pm)

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