How To Get Help/Helplines
We have put together some of the national abuse, domestic abuse and stalking helplines for anyone who feels they need help or want to speak to someone about what they are going through. Below is a list of potential free helplines, live chats and email contacts.
These are not emergency services, if you feel like you might be in danger please call 999 immediately, if you can’t talk press 55.
Refuge: For women and children against abuse.
The freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247
Live Chat (between 10:00am-6:00pm Monday to Sunday) and email support – http://www.womensaid.org.uk/
Respect: The Men’s Advice Line:
for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327
free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994
National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
(24/7 support service) – 116 123
Additional support links include legal support and information on domestic and sexual abuse:
Rights for Women – http://rightsofwomen.org.uk/get-advice/
FLOWS – Legal advice for women.
Southhall Black Sisters
Advice for Black (Asian and Afro-Caribbean) women suffering from domestic abuse, forced marriage, immigration and homelessness.
Mankind Initiative – support and advice for men suffering from domestic abuse or violence. They can refer you to a refuge, local authority or other support service.
Survivors UK – Support for men who have been victims of rape or sexual abuse. They can arrange counseling or a support group if you are based in the London area.
Rape Crisis – An organisation for Rape Crisis Centres across England and Wales and can provide de- tails of where to find your local centres.
Action on Elder Abuse – advice and information for older people who are victims of abuse or violence – www.elderabuse.org.uk
SignHealth – provides specialist domestic abuse services for Deaf people.
Support for Friends & Family
– This guide will explain what domestic abuse is, what things you can do to help the situation and how you can look after yourself. Supporting someone who is going through (or who has been through) an abusive relationship can affect how you feel, how you relate to others, how safe you feel and how you see the world, so it is completely normal to feel a whole range of emotions about the situation.
– Be encouraged that you are not alone in your experiences, that there are things you can do to support the person you know and yourself, and that there are organisations which can offer assistance.
– It is a common misconception that women are the people who experience abuse by male partners but men can be victims of domestic abuse too.
What is Domestic Abuse?
‘Domestic abuse’ or ‘domestic violence are terms often used to describe abuse from one partner towards another or from one adult family member towards another, but it can be difficult to know exactly what they mean and, for you, as the person outside of the relationship, it can be difficult to know whether or not you should be concerned.
Psychological and emotional abuse:
Behaviours that damage the person’s confidence and sense of wellbeing, for example being told they are ugly, stupid, useless or crazy, being accused of things they haven’t done and being told that the abuse is their fault
Behaviours that physically hurt or injure the person, for example being punched, slapped, kicked, beaten up, strangled, burned, pinched, bitten or hit with an object.
Behaviours that force the person to have sex or to take part in any sexual activities that the person doesn’t want to do, hasn’t agreed to or isn’t comfortable with. These behaviours are still abuse even if the people are in an intimate relationship, are living together or are married.
Behaviours that disturb or upset the person, for example being stalked, followed or watched, or receiving unwanted texts, calls and emails.
Control and coercion:
Many of the behaviours described above are about trying to control and oppress the person, and there are also behaviours that restrict the freedom the person has, for example being locked in the house or particular rooms at home, being stopped from having money and being stopped from getting in touch with the people they know.
Behaviours that control the person’s access to economic resources, which restricts their freedom and capacity to support themselves, and forces them to depend on the perpetrator financially. It can include using credit cards without permission and arranging contractual obligations in the person.
How can I tell if someone I know is experiencing abuse?
Each person’s experience in an abusive relationship is different, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a relationship that is challenging or unhealthy, and a relationship where one person is abusing another.
Below are some examples of some things you may notice that could indicate that you or the person you know is experiencing abuse, (this is not an exhaustive list):
– The person has injuries which do not match with the account they give about how they hurt themselves, or they start to wear clothes that cover up more of their body.
– You witness or hear about the abuser saying or doing things that belittle the person, for example insulting them, criticising them, making fun of their opinions and beliefs, or undermining the way the person parents their children.
– The person withdraws, seeing less of you and of other people they know, often cancelling plans and making excuses about not being able to meet up. When you do see the person, they are sometimes quieter than they used to be, and if the abuser is there too, the person may seem nervous or anxious.
– When you see the person alone, they receive lots of texts or calls from the abuser asking them what they are doing, where they are, who they are with and when they will be finished. Your friend, relative, neighbour or colleague may seem embarrassed by these interruptions, but may not feel able to stop answering the calls or the texts.
– The abuser is making lots of rules that the person has to follow, which can include: who they can see, what they can wear, what they can spend money on and how their home needs to be kept.
– The person asks you to keep things secret from the abuser, for example, who they have seen, plans they have made or things they have bought, because they are scared about what will happen if the abuser finds out.
What is Stalking?
‘A pattern of repeated and persistent unwanted behaviour that is intrusive and engenders fear. It is when one person becomes fixated or obsessed with another and the attention is unwanted’.
Taken in isolation behaviours might seem unremarkable but, in particular circumstances and with repetition, they may take on a more sinister meaning. This may involve unwanted communications, sending or leaving unsolicited materials/ gifts, graffiti and/or leaving messages on social networking sites. It may also involve unwanted intrusion.
The majority of stalkers are known to their victims and can come from all sorts of backgrounds and do not form ’one’ type. Stalkers are not homogeneous and the motivation for stalking can vary.
Stalking is life-changing and affects the victim’s psychological, physical and social functioning. The majority of victim’s experience symptoms of traumatic stress. Stalkers steal lives and take lives and homicide can be their ultimate act of control.
Cyber and Digital Stalking
The instances of cyber and digital stalking are on the increase. Cyber and digital stalking is using the internet, email or other electronic communications to stalk someone. It may occur as part of a wider stalking campaign. It may be the prelude to physical violence.
Victims of stalking should not suffer in silence and should report it. The six golden rules are:
- Report it as early as possible and tell others
- Ensure you get good practical advice
- Proactive evidence collection
- Overview of what is happening – keep a diary
- Risk screening – complete the DASH checklist
- Trust your instinct and never make contact with the stalker
Stalking in the Workplace
When stalking occurs in the workplace the relationship between the victim and the stalker is usually that of employer-employee, supervisor-employee, colleagues or service provider-customer. It could also be a current or former partner. Eight per cent of stalking cases involve a work colleague and 79 per cent of male perpetrators use work resources to target their victims.
Research shows that those stalkers who visit the workplace more than three times in a week are those that are most likely to attack. These can be the most dangerous of cases and are more likely to involve violence and sometimes lead to murder. These cases do need to be taken seriously, particularly when threats to harm or kill are made.
In November 2012 the Protection of Freedoms Act created 2 new offences of stalking inserted in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997;
Stalking 2A: harassment which involves a course of conduct that amounts to stalking.
2A is harassment which involves a course of conduct that amounts to stalking. A course of conduct is conduct that occurs on at least two occasions
Stalking 4A: stalking involving fear of violence and involving serious alarm or distress. In this context the offender knows, or ought to know that they are causing another to fear violence will be used against them.
What to do?
In an emergency please always call 999.
You can get advice from the National Stalking Helpline. Telephone: 0808 802 0300 Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4pm (except Wednesday 9:30am to 8pm)
It can be hard, as someone close to the person experiencing abuse, not to try to ‘rescue’ the person, challenge the abuser or attempt to bring about the end of the relationship. This is because you care about the person and the situation does not feel within your control. However, the person who is experiencing abuse must decide for themselves whether or not they wish to remain in the relationship and, if they do decide to leave, only they can decide the safest way to do so.
If your friend, relative, neighbour or colleague is experiencing abuse, they may struggle to talk about it. Most people will not start to talk about difficult experiences unless encouraged to do so and, for this to happen, they will need to be with someone they trust, in a place they feel safe (making sure that the abuser is not around).
To start a conversation you could ask the person how things are in their relationship, or mention things you have noticed in the behaviour of the person or the behaviour of the abuser.
“We haven’t seen much of you recently, is everything ok?”
If the person starts to talk about the abuse, try to listen with an open mind and a supportive attitude even if you don’t agree with what the person is saying.
“I’ve noticed you seem a bit down, has anyone upset you?”
– It can be difficult not to offer opinions about the relationship or the abuser, to criticise or to blame, but this is unhelpful because it tends to stop the person talking and they may feel that they can’t bring it up at a later time with you.
“Wow, they text you a lot, do they do that all the time?”
Instead, some of the important things are to let the person know that you believe them, to re- assure them that it is not their fault that the abuse is happening, to tell the person that you are concerned and worried about them, and to let them know that you want to help.
“I’m worried about you…I saw the way they looked at you and you seemed scared”.
You don’t need to have all the answers, by listening you will be helping the person to admit what is happening, and this will break the silence around the situation.
If the person chooses not to say anything about the abuse, you need to respect this and let them know that if they ever want to talk to you about the situation they can. Even having opened up the possibility for them to talk to you is really important, so try not to feel disappointed that they have chosen not to talk about what’s happening at this time.