What should I do about domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is rarely a ‘one-off’ event, and it can often become more serious over time. As well as physical abuse, domestic abuse can be other abusive and controlling behaviours, including:
- keeping someone short of money
- emotional abuse.
What can you do if you are in an abusive relationship?
There are four important steps that you can take if you're being abused:
- Accept the fact that it is happening to you
- Accept that you aren't to blame
- Talk to someone you trust (such as your doctor or health visitor)
- Get help and support.
Never be afraid to ask for help again, and in an emergency call the Police by dialling 999. The Police have specialist units and officers who are experienced in dealing with domestic violence. It is important for you to know that:
- people will believe you
- you aren't alone
- it isn't your fault
- you have the right to feel safe and live free of abuse.
Living with domestic abuse
There are a number of things you should start doing which could help you if you need to leave your relationship, particularly if you need to leave in a hurry. These include:
- keeping a diary of the abuse, as you may need it later
- thinking about your ‘safety plan’ - how will you get out of your home if the situation becomes violent? Arrange a safe place to go, such as a friend or family member you can trust. Make sure you include any children in your safety plan, and practice it if you think you need to
- collecting or copying important documents, such as your birth or marriage documents, bank details, medical cards, National Insurance numbers and any documents about your children
- it may be difficult, but try to save some money and ask someone you trust to keep it for you. Also, ask them to keep some clothes for you and your children
- if appropriate, get advice from a solicitor about an injunction (court order) and any child custody issues.
Leaving the relationship
Try to get some advice on how to leave safely. Leaving the relationship may be one of the most risky times and may lead to an increase in violence and abuse. Doing it with support is vital. Citizens Advice has a list of organisations on their website that can provide advice and support for victims of domestic abuse.
What about my children?
Victims of domestic abuse often worry that if they tell someone about the abuse, their children will be taken away from them. Social services won't take your children away solely for this reason, so it is important to seek help to make sure your children are not put at risk.