Domestic abuse isn’t just physical – it can be emotional, sexual, psychological or even financial. Some of the signs of domestic abuse, such as physical marks, may be easy to identify but others may be things you can easily explain away or overlook and can include:
being forced or pressured to do things
feeling that you are ‘walking on eggshells’ all the time and frightened to say no or what you think
being watched and checked up on – having your freedom unreasonably restricted
isolation - being stopped from seeing your family and friends
being made to feel small
having no access to money or no control / influence over the household finances
violence including ‘honour-based’ abuse
threats to you, your family, your pets or your possessions
criticism, disrespect and breaking trust
Anyone can be abused, no matter where they live or how much money they have. It can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, class, gender, religion or sexuality. It happens in all kinds of relationships: heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
If you recognise any of these feelings or behaviours then you, or someone you know, may be in an abusive relationship.
It is important to remember that you are not to blame. Often victims are either in a relationship with the perpetrator or have been historically, it can be very hard for anyone experiencing domestic abuse to report what has been going on. They might still love their abuser, feel loyal to them, are protecting their children or are simply living in fear.
If you need the police in an emergency, you should always dial 999.
If you can’t speak in an emergency call 999 from a mobile. When you call 999, the operator (the person on the phone) will ask which emergency service is required. Listen to the questions from the 999 operator. If you cannot say ‘police’ or ‘ambulance’, respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. If prompted, press 55 on your phone. This lets the 999 call operator know it’s an emergency and that you aren’t safe to speak. Click here to find out more.
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.
Supporting a friend if they’re being abused. If you’re worried a friend is being abused, let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong.
Neighbours and community members can be a lifeline for those living with domestic abuse. Look out for your neighbours, if someone reaches out to you there is advice on this page about how to respond. They might not be ready to talk but try to find quiet times when they can talk if they choose to.
If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:
listen, and take care not to blame them
acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse
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 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 – that’s their decision
ask if they have experienced physical harm – if so, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
help them report the assault to the police if they choose to
be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse
Help and support
Clare's law - domestic violence disclosure
Clare’s Law is the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme. It's named after Clare Wood, who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend who had a history of violence against women. The scheme allows you to ask us about the information we hold on a person in relation to domestic abuse offences and convictions. Disclosures provide you with domestic abuse information we hold on an individual. If our checks show that the individual has a record of violent behaviour or something that may put you at risk of harm, we will consider sharing this with you.
Disclosures will only be given to the person best placed to protect the potential victim and who needs to know the details to keep them safe. For example, if you are a third party applicant who is worried about the safety of someone else, you may not be the best person to receive the information.
Our officers always aim to keep the confidentiality of the applicant. We plan all disclosures to minimise the risk of harm to those concerned. If you receive a disclosure, it should also be treated as confidential.
If information is disclosed to you, it must be understood that it's only being given to you so that you can protect yourself, or someone you know. For safety purposes, we ask you not to share the information unless an officer has agreed for you to do so.
You can use disclosures to;
keep yourself safe
keep children and those involved safe
ask what support is available
ask for advice on how to keep yourself safe
Apply for domestic disclosure information Domestic abuse or violence disclosure applications can be made by:
You can apply for information about your own partner or as a third party if you are worried about the safety of someone you know.
If you are a third-party applicant, you must have some sort of relationship with the potential victim, such as sibling, parent, friend, work colleague or neighbour. You must be able to provide details of the person who is potentially at risk of harm and the person who is thought to cause the risk.
Domestic disclosure application process
Once you've applied for a disclosure, we'll carry out checks as soon as we can. An officer will be assigned to your disclosure application and a visit will be arranged. The visit will be a face-to-face interview to confirm who you are gather further details.
We aim to complete all disclosure requests within 35 days, but timescales vary between applications. If we believe someone is in immediate danger of domestic abuse or violence, appropriate action will be taken.
We may also meet with other safeguarding agencies such as the Probation Service, Prison Service or local council social services. The group would discuss the information you provided to see whether they have any other related information. This multi-agency meeting will decide whether a domestic violence disclosure is lawful, necessary and proportionate.