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Domestic abuse and violence

If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or you’re worried about someone else who may be at risk, we can help.

You are not alone, and you are not to blame.

We use the terms domestic violence and domestic abuse interchangeably. Not all domestic violence is physical, and emotional and psychological abuse can be just as damaging and dangerous.

There are many different types of domestic violence, including:

  • Physical abuse – when someone hits or punches you, kicks, pushes, chokes you, or uses weapons against you
  • Financial and controlling abuse – when someone restricts your freedoms, doesn’t let you work, takes your money and controls your finances, isolates you and stops you seeing friends or family members
  • Sexual abuse – when someone pressures you or forces you to have sex (this is rape), touches or gropes you, or makes you watch porn
  • Emotional or psychological abuse – when someone constantly criticises you, disrespects you, makes you feel small, guilty or scared; stalks or blackmails you; watches and checks up on you; plays mind-games; threatens you, your family, pets or your belongings. Coercive and controlling behaviour is against the law and can be reported to the police.

You may also be affected by:

How it can affect you

Domestic abuse is very common and anyone can be a victim. There's no single reason why domestic abuse occurs. It can affect men and women in both straight and gay relationships, and it happens between people regardless of culture, religion, age or class.

Unfortunately domestic abuse is very common in the UK, and although the term is most commonly used to refer to violence or threats between partners, child-on-parent abuse, or sibling-on-sibling abuse, are also forms of domestic abuse.

You don’t have to report it, but it is a crime for someone to abuse you – whether they are your partner, a family member or someone you share your home with. You may be made to feel responsible and guilty for the abuse, but the source of the problem is the abuser, not you.

Domestic abuse affects people in different ways, but as well as coping with the effects of any physical violence, you may be:

  • frightened to say no
  • worried about what will happen to you, your children or your partner if you get help
  • scared of saying the wrong thing

Worried about someone else?

If you are worried about someone and think they may be a victim of abuse, it can be hard to know what to do about it. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether someone is actually a victim or not, and even if you are sure something is wrong, there is not always a straightforward solution.

Your help can make a real difference, and help and support is available, even if you and the victim don't want to involve the police. You can call the domestic abuse helpline on 0161 636 7525 for guidance (and you don't have to tell them your name) and you can get advice and information from

If you think the situation is getting worse, or the person is at risk, do contact the police for help.

Be approachable

Try to make yourself easily approachable to the victim, so they feel able to open up to you if and when the time comes.

Don’t wait

If you have serious concerns about a friend or family member, don’t wait for them to bring it up. Find a safe time and place when the abuser is not around and raise it with them. Be sensitive and respectful in the way you talk about it. Don’t blame the victim or their partner, just make it clear you are worried about them and want to offer your help and support if they need it. If they don’t want to talk about it, respect their decision and make it clear that this is fine too. They may open up to you again at a later time.


Be patient. Even if your support is knocked-back at first, your words may be enough to make them think about what is happening to them and could encourage them to seek help or open up to you again in the future. Don’t just tell them to leave their partner, and try not to get frustrated at them if they stay with the abuser – it is their decision. Don’t give up on them if they leave and then return to the abuser.


If they do talk to you about what is going on, the way you respond to them will make a real difference – they may feel empowered and more able to cope now that they have you to talk things through with, more able to explore options and make choices. You may not have all the answers, but by helping someone to break the silence on their abuse, you are helping them take important first steps to getting help and support.


Understand that it is not always as simple as the victim simply leaving the abuser. Relationships are very complicated and there may also be children involved. They may not recognise that they are a victim of abuse, and abusers often promise to ‘change’. Their partner may have threatened them or their children with violence if they try to leave, and leaving the abuser doesn’t mean that the abuse will stop.

If you raise the issue first, they may initially deny there is a problem or turn down your support.

The victim is NEVER to blame for the abuse.

Be practical

Find out about the help and support that is available from local and national support services. Help them think about options and choices.

Come up with a code word they can use to let you know if they are in danger and need help.

Offer to keep an overnight bag and important documents for them, so if they need to leave their abuser at the last-minute, they have the things they need.

Look after yourself

Try not to lose heart if it feels like you are not helping your friend as much as you would like. Just being there for them matters a great deal.

Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation or let the abuser see you as a ‘threat’ to their relationship.

You can get help too. Many domestic violence support services can offer help to friends and family members who are affected. They can help you support your friend.

Recognise the signs

Every case is different, but there are tell-tale signs:

  • Injuries – Bruising, cuts or injuries or walking stiffly or appears sore. These injuries may come with explanations that don’t fit with the description.
  • Excuses – the victim may excuse their injuries by claiming they are clumsy or gives the same explanation each time.
  • Stress –displays physical symptoms related to stress, other anxiety disorders or depression, such as panic attacks, feelings of isolation and an inability to cope. She may even talk about suicide attempts or self-harming.
  • Absent from work - often off work, takes time off without notice or is frequently late.
  • Personality changes – you may notice personality changes when the victim is around their partner, appears to ‘walk on eggshells’, may be jumpy or nervous.
  • Low self-esteem – low self-esteem or lack of confidence regarding their relationship or life in general and may seem sad, cry or be depressed.
  • Lack of opportunity to communicate independently – perhaps their partner talks over them, or for them. Their partner may appear controlling or regularly belittle the victim.
  • Self blame – may take the blame for anything that happens, whether it’s at work, with the kids or with friends. They may blame themselves for the abuse.
  • Lack of money – never seems to have any money because their partner is withholding money to control them.
  • Stops socialising – makes excuses for not going out with friends, or suddenly pulls out of social meets at the last minute.
  • Partner displays irrational behaviour – their partner is jealous, irrational or possessive. Their partner may accuse them of having affairs, flirting or may read their emails, check their phone or constantly phone to check up on them.
  • Unwanted pregnancy/termination – pregnancy often triggers the start of domestic abuse. She may be unhappy at being pregnant, not wish to continue with the pregnancy, or be forced into having a termination.
  • Substance abuse –may use alcohol or drugs to cope or even prescribed drugs such as tranquillisers or anti-depressants.
  • Damage to property – there may be damage to the home or even harm to pets.
  • Unwilling to give out personal details – may not give friends and colleagues their address or telephone number and may insist that they contact you, so that you don’t turn up on their doorstep"

Children and young people

If there are children in the household where domestic violence is taking place, it is likely that they will have seen or heard the abuse taking place, or see the injuries and aftermath. In some cases, the children are also victims.

Some children may try to get in the middle and stop the abuse taking place. Sometimes abusers force children to stay in one room, or they are not allowed to play. In some cases children are made to watch the abuse or even join in.

Any children involved in domestic violence are being emotionally abused. They may feel guilty, angry, scared, confused, alone, and frustrated.

They need help and support.

They may also:

  • have trouble sleeping
  • feel anxious or depressed
  • complain of physical symptoms
  • start to wet the bed or behave as though they are younger than they are
  • have problems at school
  • self harm or start using drugs or alcohol

Help for children and young people


ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen.

The Hideout

Women’s Aid have created this space to help young people understand domestic abuse, and how to take positive action if it’s happening to you.

Young victims of abuse

Domestic violence doesn’t just happen between married adults. Teenagers and young people can also experience abusive relationships. It’s not normal and it is never ok.

Find out more and get advice from this website. It tells you about the different types of abuse and what you can do to get help:

Financial abuse

1 in 5 people in the UK have experienced financial abuse in an intimate relationship.

Refuge, in partnership with The Co-operative Bank, has launched a powerful campaign “My money, my life” to shine a spotlight on this often overlooked form of abuse of domestic abuse and call for industry-wide agreement to support people who experience financial abuse in their relationships.

Clare’s Law

Clare’s Law is also known as the domestic violence disclosure scheme. It gives people the power to inquire about an individual who they are in a relationship with (or who is in a relationship with someone they know) if they are concerned that the individual may be violent towards them.

You might be able to get legal aid if you have evidence that you or your children have been victims of domestic abuse or violence, and you can’t afford to pay legal costs.

You don’t have to get evidence before talking to a legal aid solicitor or Civil Legal Advice (CLA), but they’ll need to see it before deciding whether you can get legal aid.

Rights of Women

You can also seek help from Rights of Women, an organisation that provides free, confidential legal advice for women.

Hurting the one you love?

Are you hurting the one you love? Choose to stop! Respect operates a confidential and anonymous helpline for anyone concerned about their violence and/or abuse towards a partner or ex-partner.

Getting help from the police

You don’t have to report domestic violence to the police, and many victims are worried about what will happen to them, their children and their partners if they do make a report.

But to help you cope, it is important to try and break the silence and speak to someone about what is happening. It could be your GP, a trusted friend, family member or neighbour.

The first step towards building a new, safer and fear-free life is telling someone about the abuse.

If you are in immediate danger, dial 999.

Involving the police

In an emergency: dial 999
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or are worried about a friend or family member, always dial 999 in an emergency.

In a non-emergency: dial 101
Use this number to report a non-emergency incident or make a general enquiry.

Report anonymously
Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is a charity, entirely independent of police. Crimestoppers never shares with police details of people who have got in touch.

If you are considering making a report to the police, you can help them by:

  • Providing as much detail as possible about what has happened to you
  • Making a note of the time and date and place the incident(s) took place
  • Providing the names and addresses of anyone who saw/heard the abuse or whom you told about what was happening to you.
  • Keeping anything that may confirm what happened to you e.g. mobile phone video or audio recording, threatening text messages or abusive mail.

Protection orders

You can apply for a Domestic Violence Protection Order from the police. These orders can stop the abuser from returning to your home for up to 28 days. This can give you respite from the abuse and time to consider your options.

If abuser breaches the order it could then lead to a prison sentence. You may be able to get help and advice by caseworkers if you choose to leave the relationship - including securing a longer-term injunction against the abuser.

Coercive and controlling behaviour

From December 2015 a new law came into effect making coercive and controlling behaviour a crime. This means that police can arrest offenders for such behaviour and offer protection to victims who, in the past, may have been unable to report it.

Specialist domestic abuse investigators

You can contact your local Specialist Domestic Abuse Investigators for help, advice and support.

More information

Accessing support without involving the police

You should always dial 999 in an emergency. But, even if you don’t want to make a report to the police, you can still get help if you are a victim of domestic violence. Everyone has the right to live free from fear and harm.

Domestic violence is never the fault of the victim, and help and support is available for victims, survivors and affected friends or family members. If you are worried about someone else, get help and support for yourself and the person you are trying to help.

Useful links and information

Greater Manchester's Domestic Abuse Helpline

The domestic abuse helpline for Greater Manchester offers advice, information, telephone counselling and support to anyone (age 16 and over) who is being abused, has been abused or is in fear of being forced into marriage.

Men’s Advice Line

The Men's Advice Line is a free, confidential helpline for men who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence from their partners or ex-partners. This includes all men – in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.

End The Fear

Anyone who is experiencing domestic or sexual violence can find help, support and advice on the End the Fear website. They also provide help and support to people who know someone who may be being abused. They want to encourage victims of domestic and sexual violence in Greater Manchester to find the courage to come forward and seek support and help.

It also provides details of all local services available to you from a range of different organisations.

24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline

Run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, this is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.


Galop provide help, advice and support for LGBT victims of domestic abuse.

Citizens’ Advice

Domestic abuse and violence – Citizens’ Advice

Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police and other investigating bodies in England and Wales.

Greater Manchester Police

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, or Clare’s Law, can be used by anyone concerned over a partner’s abusive behaviour or those concerned about a friend or family member in a relationship and at risk of violence by their partner. For further information or to make a request for information under it, contact Greater Manchester Police on 101 or visit a police station.

Home Office and GOV.UK

Karma Nirvana

Supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.



Since 1971, Refuge has led the campaign against domestic violence. It has grown to become the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic violence services. On any given day it supports over 2,000 women and children.

Shelter UK

Shelter is a charity that works to alleviate the distress caused by homelessness and bad housing.

St Mary’s sexual assault referral centre

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated forensic, counselling and aftercare service to men, women and children living in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire area who have experienced rape or sexual assault, whether this has happened recently or in the past.

Survivors Manchester UK

Helping male victims of sexual assault and abuse to break the silence.

Victim Support

National charity giving free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales

WAVE Domestic Abuse Centre

W.A.V.E’s mission is to provide safe shelter and support services for women and children who have been subjected to domestic abuse. W.A.V.E Domestic Abuse Centre is a vital resource providing confidential assistance including emergency safety services such as refuge and 24 hour crisis helplines. But you don’t have to stay in the refuge to get help from the centre. W.A.V.E. provides a full range of non-refuge related services.

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid is the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. It supports a network of over 350 domestic and sexual violence services across the UK.

Women’s Aid on Twitter

Domestic Abuse Act

On 29 April 2021, the Domestic Abuse Act became law.

The Domestic Abuse Act aims to provide?further protection to victims and survivors of domestic abuse and strengthen measures to tackle perpetrators.??

The Act seeks to:

  • Raise awareness and understanding about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on victims and their families.
  • Further improve the effectiveness of the justice system in providing protection for victims of domestic abuse and bringing perpetrators to justice.
  • Strengthen the support for victims of abuse by statutory agencies

The Act creates a new statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse. It also makes clear that children are also victims in their own right, if they see, hear or otherwise experience the effects of abuse. It also establishes in law the office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, who is to lead on driving improvements to the response to domestic abuse in the UK and champion the rights and needs of victims.

The Act also introduces a duty on local authorities to deliver support to adult and child victims of domestic abuse in accommodation-based services. This is vitally important, and will do much to ensure that those impacted by domestic abuse have the lifeline of safe accommodation if they need to flee.

What does this mean for victims and survivors?

The Act seeks to improve the criminal justice journey for victims and strengthen the support for victims of abuse by statutory agencies.

This includes:

  • Creating a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse. As part of this definition, children will be explicitly recognised as victims if they see, hear or otherwise experience the effects of abuse;
  • Creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation.
  • Extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse.
  • Placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation.
  • Prohibiting GPs and other health professionals from charging a victim of domestic abuse for a letter to support an application for legal aid.
  • Prohibiting perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in family and civil courts in England and Wales.

You can find out more about the Domestic Abuse Act on the Home Office website

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