Call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247 or through the contact form or live chat service. If you are a male victim, you can access support through the Men’s Advice Helpline on 0808 8010327. Other specialist support services are available. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.
If English is not your first language you may find our translated guidance or easy read version useful. Women’s Aid also have guidance documents on domestic abuse and coronavirus available in a number of languages for victims, family and friends, and community members of those affected.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and domestic abuse
The government acknowledges that coronavirus household isolation instructions can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. There is never an excuse for domestic abuse, no matter what the circumstances are.
Household isolation instructions as a result of coronavirus do not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.
If you feel at risk of abuse, there is help and support available to you, including the police, online support, helplines and refuges. You can find more information about these and other services on this page.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need immediate help, ask for ‘ANI’ in a participating pharmacy. ‘ANI’ stands for Action Needed Immediately but also phonetically sounds like the name Annie. If a pharmacy has the ‘Ask for ANI’ logo on display, it means they’re ready to help. They will offer you a private space, provide a phone and ask if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.
Recognise domestic abuse
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It can also include:
- coercive control and ‘gaslighting’
- economic abuse
- online abuse
- threats and intimidation
- emotional abuse
- sexual abuse
What signs to look for
If you believe that you or someone else could be a victim of domestic abuse, there are signs that you can look out for including:
- being withdrawn, or being isolated from family and friends
- having bruises, burns or bite marks
- having finances controlled, or not being given enough to buy food or pay bills
- not being allowed to leave the house, or stopped from going to college or work
- having your internet or social media use monitored, or someone else reading your texts, emails or letters
- being repeatedly belittled, put down or told you are worthless
- being pressured into sex
- being told that abuse is your fault, or that you’re overreacting
Support a friend if they’re being abused
Let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong.
If someone confides in you, there is more information on how to support a friend who is being abused.
If you are worried that someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, you can call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free, confidential support, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247. Visit the helpline website to access information on how to support a friend.
If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, always call 999.
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse find out how to report domestic abuse.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.
If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and listen to the questions from the operator and, if you can, respond by coughing or tapping on the handset.
Call 999 from a mobile
If prompted, press 55 to Make Yourself Heard and this will transfer your call to the police.
Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.
Call 999 from a landline
If the operator can only hear background noise and cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, 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.
If you are deaf or can’t verbally communicate
You can register with the emergencySMS service. Text REGISTER to 999. You will get a text which tells you what to do next. Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger.