If you are experiencing domestic abuse, we recommend that you take the following safety measures to protect yourself.
- Talk to someone. You can call Aanchal, you can speak to a friend or a neighbour or even speak to your GP.
- Keep money aside if you need to leave straight away.
- Keep a mobile phone close to you that's charged and with credit.
- Keep important documents such as passports, NI number, children’s birth certificates and any other important documents such as mortgage or insurance paper together.
- Keep any evidence you already have that documents the abuse, such as statements to the police, photographs, emails or your GP records. These will be relevant in your support should you seek legal action.
- Keep any important or emergency numbers with you including those of close family and friends, your GP, your children’s school, etc.
- Pack an emergency bag for you and your children and keep this somewhere safe. This should contain all essential information that you would need in case you have to leave your house immediately. Don’t forget to pack your child’s favourite toy.
- Think about somewhere safe that you can go and can tell someone what is going on.
- Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency and discuss with them when they might need to make the call.
- Rehearse a safety plan so that you know what to do if you need to leave in an emergency.
- Be aware of any early signs and symptoms of abuse.
We are frequently contacted by concerned friends and family members asking about what they can do if someone they know is experiencing abuse. If you know them well, encourage them to speak to someone and give them our telephone number so they can receive prompt and informed advice for their unique situation. Many women who reach us have experienced accelerated abuse because they have been given uninformed and unsafe advice.
If you know someone who is experiencing abuse but do not know them well (for example, a neighbour, a member of your local faith group or a parent at your child’s school), call us to receive information cards that you can either give directly to the person in need of help or pass on to the school, faith establishment or mutual acquaintance.
You can also encourage the person experiencing abuse to:
Dial 999 for emergency help
Dial 111 for non-emergency help
Talk to their GP
Explore appropriate legal pathways such as non-molestation orders and injunctions
Escape to a refuge or safe house accommodation (this can be well away from the local area)
Seek help from Aanchal, particularly if they do not have British citizenship. Their information will be kept confidential.
Stay vigilant about the various forms of domestic abuse, including physical, emotional, financial and sexual.
You can read more about the common signs of domestic abuse at ' How do I know I am experiencing abuse?'
20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse (Radford et al. NSPCC, 2011)
62% of children in households where domestic violence is happening are also directly harmed (SafeLives, 2015)
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you have probably tried to shield your children from the worst of it. But it is important to realise that in most situations where abuse is present, children inevitable become aware of it and are often the subject of the abuse. A large number of these children suffer through the physical and psychological effects into adulthood.
To cope with the impact of domestic abuse, children can adopt many different coping strategies. Some of the signs that your child is experiencing the effects of domestic abuse are:
- abnormalities around food such as eating too much or not wanting to eat
- wanting to over-achieve or underachieving.
How can I keep my children safe?
1) Talk to your children: You can keep your children safe by keeping them informed and by creating a healthy and safe relationship with them so they are able to talk to you.
Children are silent witnesses and what they witness can create lifelong confusion. Talk to them and communicate reasons for decision making regularly.
2) Understand the abuse: You can keep your children safe by understanding the behaviours perpetrator adopt to use children in an abusive situation.
3) We can speak with you about child protection and reporting abuse. Your local social care support will help you with action plans towards safeguarding. Parents find this useful in helping them understand the depth of the abuse and take decisive actions to move away from an abusive environment.
4) Report the abuse: You can report to the police, to your GP or to you child’s school.
If you think you are experiencing abuse, call Aanchal Women’s Aid now on 0845 451 2547. Do not dwell on doubt. Talk to us. Our service is confidential and non-judgemental.
“I could heal the cuts and hide the bruises, but it was his words that really hurt me. His words stayed in my head, tormenting me, long after he has gone. He taught me that I was worthless and I believed him. I still hear his voice in my head all the time, telling me I am nothing.”
– AWA survivor
The ultimate goal of an abuser is control. They want you to behave only in the ways that they prescribe and they achieve this control with abuse. For many women and children who have been subjected to abuse, it is difficult to know what a healthy relationship is. Abuse is normalised and accepted.
Domestic abuse can make you feel isolated, unable to talk to others, embarrassed, ashamed, worthless, low self-esteem, insignificant, vulnerable and powerless to change your circumstances. As a result, many women remain with an abuser, lacking the self-esteem to act or living in the hope that the abuser will change. Abusers do change – they frequently get worse. Violence is progressive. It almost always escalates over time. Emotional abuse almost always leads to physical violence.
Each case of domestic abuse is unique but there are some common trends that we see across each case. The list below can help you recognise if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse.
Remember, an abuser can be a family member not just an intimate partner:
- Are you scared of the person?
- Has the person ever physically hurt you?
- Are you worried to say certain things or challenge certain behaviours through fear of violence or verbal abuse/arguments?
- Do you ever feel that you can’t do anything right for the person?
- Do they make you feel worthless?
- Do they ever degrade you in public?
- Do they say or do things of a sexual nature that makes you feel uncomfortable?
- Have they ever forced you to have sex when you didn’t want to?
- Do they blame you for their behaviour?
- Are you able to see friends and family?
- Do they want to know where you are all the time?
- Do they stop you from going out to meet friends, attend groups, education or stop you from doing what you want to do?
- Do they constantly call or text you?
- Have they threatened to ‘out’ you to your family and community?
- Are you afraid that they may try to kill you?
- Have they threatened to take their lives if you try to leave?
- Are you being forced to marry someone you don’t want to?
- Are they threating your immigration status if you try to seek help?
- Do they threaten to hurt or blackmail your close family?
- Are they threatening to take your children away from you if you seek help?
- Do they tell you, you are mentally unwell and that no one will believe you?
- Do they threaten to tell police and authorities that you are the abuser?
- Have they ever been violent towards your pet?
- Did you grow up with domestic violence in the household? Does domestic violence seem normal to you?
- Do they shout or threaten your children?
- Are your children frightened often?
- Do your children suffer hardship, problems with school achievements?
- Do you notice any different behaviours in your children?
- Are your children slapped or hit by the perpetrator?
- Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner (Office of National Statistics, 2015)
- 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14)
- On average the police receive an emergency call relating to domestic abuse every 30 seconds. (HMIC, 2014)
- Domestic cases now account for 14.1% of all court prosecutions, and the volume of prosecutions rose this year to the highest level ever of 92,779 . 92.4% of defendants were male and 7.6% were women. 84% of victims were female and 16% were male. (Crown Prosecution Service, VAWG report 2014/15)
Many women endure abuse for a long period of time before they report the violence or leave the situation. Some never leave.
The impact of domestic abuse can be devastating and far-reaching. Violence against women has serious consequences for their physical and mental health. Many survivors suffer physical harm, which can have fatal consequences. Besides the obvious physical injuries abused women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic systems, eating problems and post traumatic disorder. Sustained abuse may also trigger suicide attempts or psychotic episodes.
Domestic violence and abuse is:
any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
- verbal and emotional
Controlling behavior is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploring their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behavior.
Coercive behavior is an act or pattern of acts of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.
The definition includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so called 'honour based violence', female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.
Family members are defined as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in laws or stepfamily.