If you're experiencing domestic abuse, you may feel afraid about looking for help because you've been threatened, or because you think no-one else will be listening to you.
But you don't have to face domestic violence on your own. There are many organisations that can offer support and can help to protect you.
Contacting the Police
In the event of an emergency, you should call the police immediately on 999.
Domestic Abuse Liaison Officers are also available to talk to you in confidence. You can contact your local domestic abuse and safeguarding teams (DAST) by using the following extensions:
- DAST North: dial 101 and extension 430375
- DAST South: dial 101 01268 244045
- DAST West: dial 101 and extension 320601
For Female Victims
The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, as well as for family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
Refuge's network of safe houses provides emergency accommodation for women and children when they are most in need.
Women's Aid is a national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.
The Woman's Trust Counselling Service is open to all women who are, or have been affected by domestic abuse. Counselling sessions offer a time to explore feelings and talk through difficulties in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment. The service is for women only and is provided by only female counsellors.
The Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse is a confidential and non judgemental support service for women and young people who have been raped, sexually abused or assaulted, either recently or in the past - whether it involved a stranger, friend or family member. You can speak to someone on 01206 769795, or leave a message on the 24 hour answerphone.
The number to call the South East Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Line is 01375 380609.
For Female Victims (Pregnancy)
Pregnancy is a time when domestic abuse can start and it can be a risky time, with potential danger to both mother and child. If abusive behaviour is already present in a relationship, then pregnancy can be a time when it gets worse. If you are pregnant and you are concerned about domestic abuse, talk in confidence to your midwife.
For Male Victims
Many of us think of domestic abuse as being something that only happens to women. But men can also be victims of abuse. Many men won't say anything when they are being abused but it's crucial you get help.
The Men's advice line is run by the charity Respect to support men who are victims of domestic violence. You can reach them on 0808 801 0327 (Mon, Tues and Weds 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm. There is an ansafone outside these hours).
DVMen is a website that provides advice and support for men suffering domestic violence.
The ManKind Initiative is a national charity that provides help and support for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence.
You can find more information on domestic abuse against men on the NHS Choices website.
For LGBT victims
Domestic abuse can be as common and as severe in same-sex relationships as in heterosexual relationships.
Galop offer emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse. They offer a National domestic abuse helpline, 0800 999 5428, or you can email them on email@example.com. Check the opening times on their website.
Are You Hurting the one You Love? is a booklet on male violence in gay and bisexual relationships.
Domestic abuse is defined as taking place between adults, but this abuse also harms children. There is also evidence that it often occurs alongside child abuse within families.
If you're worried about violence or abuse against children or young people, contact your local children's services:
Emergency contact details
Where a situation is urgent and cannot wait until the next working day:
Monday to Thursday 5.30pm - 9am
Friday and bank holidays 4.30pm - 9am
Telephone: 0345 606 1212
Where there are immediate concerns about the safety or welfare of a child or young person:
Telephone: 0345 603 7634
If you are a child who needs help please tell us immediately. There are people who can help you. All you need to do is tell us. You can either call the Initial Response Team or email:
Evening and night-time help;
Monday to Thursday 5.30pm - 9am
Friday and bank holidays 4.30pm - 9am
Telephone: 0345 606 1212
Monday to Thursday 9am - 5.30pm
Friday and bank holidays 9am - 4:30am
Telephone: 0345 603 7634
The National Child Protection Helpline is committed to providing a service to anyone who needs advice, help or information about concerns for a child's welfare, or to those who want to report concerns they have about a child or young person at risk of abuse.
The Hideout is a website created by Women's Aid giving support to children and young people affected by domestic violence.
ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor about anything; no problem is too big or too small. Call free on 0800 1111, have a 1-2-1 chat online or send an email.
For Older People
Action on Elder Abuse is a national charity which has a free helpline in Essex (telephone 0800 032 7644) providing emotional support, information and guidance to anyone concerned about potential abuse affecting older people.
Victim Support is the national independent charity that offers support to victims of crime including women, men and children experiencing domestic abuse.
They will help by providing you with information, practical help and emotional support, and do this by:
- always prioritising your safety
- giving you time to think and to make decisions
- offering continued support whatever decisions you make
- putting you in touch with other agencies that can help, for example with housing, benefits and legal advice
- helping you to explore your options for dealing with the abuse
Their services are confidential, free and available to everyone.
Victim Support accepts referrals from official and other organisations as well as self-referrals from individuals themselves, whether or not you want to report the crime to the police and regardless of when it happened.
You can call Victim Support using their national support line number 0808 168 9111; from 9am - 9pm weekdays and 9am - 7pm weekends. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other General Support
The National Centre for Domestic Violence provides a free and fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence, regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation.
The National Stalking Helpline provides guidance and information to anybody who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking.
Network for Surviving Stalking represents UK stalking victims and their families.
The This is Abuse website provides specialist advice on what to do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship with your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend.
If you know someone who you think may be abusing their partner or family member, or if you're worried about your own behaviour, you can choose to stop, and there are agencies who can support you.
Anger management programmes are never appropriate for someone who is a domestic abuser. People perpetrate abuse in order to get what they want and to gain control.
Couple counselling is never safe for a couple in which one partner is abusing the other either, as it can be dangerous to force the victim to talk about the relationship in front of the abuser.
Respect is a registered charity and national membership organisation promoting best practice for domestic abuse perpetrator programmes and associated support services in the UK.
It provides a helpline for men who commit domestic abuse, and for people concerned for someone they know who they think is abusive. The number to ring is 0808 802 4040.
Essex Change is a community based domestic abuse intervention project which is run in association with women's and children's services. And you can reach them on 0845 372 7701 (calls to 0845 numbers are chargeable, rates vary) or text them using their mobile number, 07872 541982.
Other Information and Advice
The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) specialises in helping victims of domestic abuse to obtain non molestation orders and injunctions, to protect them from further abuse. The free service is available to everybody by calling 0800 970 2070 (24 hour, local call charge rate).
You can also text NCDV to 60777 and they'll call you back. And for the deaf and hard of hearing, they offer a minicom and typetalk service on 18001 08009 702070.
Rights of Women offer a legal helpline, run by female solicitors and barristers, for women needing legal advice about domestic abuse or any other matter. 020 7251 6577 (Tue, Wed, Thurs 2-4pm and 7-9pm and Fri 12-2pm)
Going to court
If you report domestic abuse to the police, they may give your details to the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor service.
It offers support and information and will work with someone throughout a court case. This could include arranging a pre court visit and being present with the victim when they appear in court as a witness.
Rights of Women also offer a helpline for women needing criminal law advice about domestic abuse, once their case has been reported to the police and is in the criminal justice system. You can call them on 020 7251 8887 (Tue 11-1pm).
The Victim Support Witness Service
The Witness Service can give you:
- someone to talk to confidentially, about how you're feeling before a trial
- information about what to expect in court, including a chance to see the court beforehand and learn about court procedures
- a quiet place to wait before you are called to give evidence
- someone to go with you into the courtroom if you want, to help you feel more at ease
- practical help (for example with claiming your expenses)
- easier access to people, such as court staff, who can answer specific questions about the case
- the chance to talk over your case when it has ended and to get more help or information
Like the rest of Victim Support, the Witness Service is free and independent of the police or courts. To get help now, contact your local Witness Service 0300 303 0165.
If you decide to or have to leave your home, or you want to try and stay but without an abusive partner, there are several options available to you. Women's Aid offer emergency accommodation, advocacy and support to women who want to escape from abuse.
You can also talk to a housing advice officer at your local district or borough council about this. And if you own your home you may wish to speak to a solicitor.
If the abuser has left and you wish to remain in your home, but are fearful because of security and safety issues, a local Sanctuary Scheme may operate in your area. They provide additional security measures and support to victims of domestic abuse. Enquires should be made to your local district or borough council (who you pay your council tax to).
Shelter also provide a free housing advice helpline that you can call. 0808 800 4444 is the freephone number to ring.
Many Women's Aid units operate drop in centres for counselling and emotional support, as well as legal, housing and benefits advice. The following are contact details for these centres in Essex:
Drug and Alcohol Support
Perpetrators of domestic abuse often use drink or drugs as an excuse for their behaviour. However, the causes of domestic abuse are far more deep-rooted than simply being an effect of intoxication. Drug and alcohol misuse may intensify existing abuse but it does not cause it. Those experiencing domestic abuse may also turn to alcohol or drugs as a form of escape from the abuse.
If you're concerned about this, the following Substance Misuse Services can help:
- Choices, provided by Open Road; 0844 499 1323
- Specialist Children and Young Peoples Drug and Alcohol Service; 01245 493311
- Alcoholics Anonymous is for anyone worried about their drinking. You can call them on 0800 9177 650
- Talk to Frank (freephone 0800 776 600) is a national advice service for young people about drugs and alcohol
Mental Health Support
An abusive relationship will affect you both physically and emotionally. You may feel tired, run down, depressed, or unable to cope. You may feel ashamed of what is happening to you. Your GP, practice nurse or health visitor are there to listen to you and support you.
MIND, the national association for mental health, has a helpline that provides advice and support to people who are concerned about their mental health. Call their Infoline on 0300 123 3393, or text 86463 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, except bank holidays).
Saneline is for anyone concerned about his or her mental health or someone else's. Call them on 0300 304 7000 (6-11pm every day).
Advice on forced marriage
The Forced Marriage Unit is a government office that provides support and assistance to British nationals being forced into marriage overseas.
You can call them on 020 7008 0151 during office hours. And out of hours on 020 7008 1500.