Domestic Abuse is a crime in which the abuser seeks power and control over their victim and can affect women, men and children. Although Domestic Abuse is often physical, it does not have to be; it can also be psychological, sexual, emotional or even financial.
Domestic Abuse can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, social background, gender, religion or sexuality. It can happen in short or long-term relationships, with ex-partners or family members. It is not acceptable in any circumstance.
Victims of Domestic Abuse can feel very isolated, and incidents of abuse often go unreported because the victim may feel trapped or alone.
How can I protect myself?
If you are experiencing Domestic Abuse, the most important thing to do is to tell someone you trust about what is happening. This could be your teacher, work colleague, GP, a neighbour or close friend, or any other trusted professional. Speaking to someone about what you are going through can help you to feel less alone and can support you in understanding your options.
If you are unsure about whether you are experiencing Domestic Abuse or not, go with your instincts; if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You may feel alone and that no-one can help you, but many people experience abuse and there are people who can help. It is important to remember that it is not your fault and that there is support available.
Never be afraid to ask for help and always remember to dial 999 in an emergency.
Here is some practical advice to help you:
How to leave home safely:
- Have a small bag packed with spare clothes, keys, phone numbers and money in case you have to leave quickly. If you're afraid that it will be found, leave it at work or with a friend
- Talk to your children beforehand about the possibility of leaving in an emergency if it's appropriate
- You may want to agree a code word or a plan with them
- Make sure you take your children with you when you leave
- Only leave when it is safe to do so
- If you later discover that you have left something behind, you can arrange to collect it with a police officer - don't return by yourself
- Tell somebody you trust that you are leaving
- Take some identification with you that might help others protect you from the abuser, such as a recent photograph.
How to keep safe during a violent incident:
- If you are able to, dial 999 in an emergency. Try to leave the phone off the hook so that the operator can still hear you
- If you can't ring 999, telephone or text a friend, relative or neighbour with a pre-arranged code word indicating that you need help so that they can call the police for you
- Plan escape routes before you need to use them
- If you have been injured and you have not been able to call the police, go to see your doctor or attend hospital as soon as possible.
Keeping safe if you decide to stay:
- Make sure you seek help from support agencies where you live
- Let the support agencies know how they can contact you e.g. at work or at a friend's address
- Make sure you remove all traces of contact with support agencies and delete your computer history if you have been on their website
- Dispose of phone records
- Use the internet in your local library or internet café to avoid leaving a trace
- Make sure you receive medical help for any injuries ensuring that they are recorded and photographed. These may be used at a later date to support court cases or re-housing applications.
Find out more by listening to Julie's story:
Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme or 'Clare's Law', as it is known, gives members of the public the ‘right to ask’ police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past.
For more information on this scheme please click here.
Where can I get help or further information?
For support and help, call freephone the 24hr National Domestic Violence Helpline (run by Refuge and Women’s Aid) on 0808 2000 247
In a non-emergency, call Merseyside Police on 101.
In an emergency dial 999.
If you need help, advice or even just someone to talk to, there are a number of agencies that can help you. For further details of local help and support agencies, click here.