Domestic abuse

The government defines domestic abuse as an event or pattern of events of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people aged 16 or over who are (or have been) intimate partners or family members.

Physical violence is just one type of abuse – domestic abuse can be any behaviour which is used to harm, punish or frighten you, or makes you feel bullied, controlled or intimidated. This includes mental, sexual, financial and emotional abuse and other harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), so called ‘honour’ based violence and forced marriage.

Friends, family, neighbours and community members can be a vital lifeline to those living with domestic abuse. If you are worried that someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse, reassure them that the police and support services are still there to help and direct them to sources of support.

Faith may be the first place that people turn to in times of need. You can offer your support by:

  • Contacting your Church Safeguarding Coordinator or Synod Safeguarding Officer if you become concerned that someone may be experiencing abuse.
  • Call the Police if someone is in immediate danger or risks being harmed.
  • Make sure you and those working in the church have had training, this will help them identify and support those at risk.
  • Signpost to support agencies and community resources such as SafeLives
  • Be aware of the need for discreteness when signposting so as not to place survivors in any further danger.
  • Consider how your Safeguarding Coordinator could be contacted directly and confidentially by those in need. Are their details visible to those coming into church?
  • Familiarise yourself with Appendix R – Good Practice 5 – A Guide to Domestic Abuse

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999, listen to the questions from the operator and respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. Then follow the instructions depending on whether you are calling from a mobile or a landline.

If you call from a mobile

If prompted, press 55 to Make Yourself Heard – this will transfer your call to the police. Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.

If you call 999 from a landline

If only background noise can be heard and BT 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.

Useful Support providers:

Refuge runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which you can call for free, and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.

Specialist lesbian, gay, bixsexual and trangender (LGBT) support: 

Specialist ‘by and for’ support for Black and minoritised women: 

Specialist support for Deaf and disabled survivors:

  • Sign Health: Supports d/Deaf people experiencing domestic abuse, including a pilot online support project –
  • Call 020 3947 2601 / (Text or WhatsApp/Facetime) 07970 350366 [email protected]
  • Stay Safe East: Supports d/Deaf and disabled people experiencing domestic abuse and hate crime (London only) [email protected]
  • Respond: Support for people with learning disabilities and/or autism who have experienced trauma and abuse – 020 7383 0700 /[email protected]

Men’s Advice Line:

The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them – 0808 801 0327.

Page last updated December 2022