I want to help2023-01-04T12:15:15+00:00


What is domestic violence?2017-04-06T15:29:43+00:00

Domestic violence includes “all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim.  In domestic violence victims and perpetrators are of both sexes.

Domestic violence can also be referred to as intimate partner violence.
What is violence against women?2017-04-06T15:26:25+00:00

Violence against women is “…a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and shall mean all acts of gender based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” [2]

Domestic violence is one of the most insidious and frequent forms of violence against women. Within family relationships women of all ages are subjected to violence of all kinds.

Domestic violence is prevalent in all societies and cultures.
What is gender based violence?2017-04-06T15:27:48+00:00

Gender based violence is “violence directed against a person because of that person’s gender (including gender identity/expression) or violence that affects persons of a particular gender disproportionately. Women and girls, of all ages and backgrounds, are most affected by gender based violence. It can be physical, sexual, and/or psychological” (see here for more).

Who does domestic violence affect?2017-04-06T15:22:52+00:00

Domestic violence affects women in majority, but also men, old and young, heterosexual couples and homosexual couples alike.

One in four women has reported some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15.

13 million women in the EU have experienced physical violence in the course of 12 months prior to the survey interviews (see here for more).

For more information see the Interactive Data Explorer where you can examine the survey findings.

Domestic violence is a problem that impacts many of the most vulnerable people.
Where does domestic violence occur?2017-04-06T15:16:24+00:00

Domestic violence occurs across the world and affects people from all social, cultural, racial backgrounds, irrespective of economic status.

Are children victims of violence too?2017-04-06T15:14:16+00:00


Violence experienced by children has negative effect on their physical and mental health, as well as their personal development. Children are most often victims of violence in a familiar environment, their social network (family, relatives, neighbourhood, and peers).

Children are the victims of physical, psychological, and sexual violence, as well as neglect and economic violence.
What are the forms of domestic violence?2017-04-06T15:12:23+00:00
  • psychological violence,
  • sexual violence (including rape, child sexual abuse),
  • physical violence,
  • stalking,
  • economic violence,
  • neglect.
What are the forms of gender based violence?2017-04-06T14:56:59+00:00
  • violence in intimate relationships,
  • sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment or stalking),
  • human trafficking (including prostitution),
  • forced labour,
  • slavery,
  • harmful practices, such as forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called “honour” crimes.
What is psychological violence?2017-04-06T14:54:19+00:00

Psychological violence includes all actions of the domestic violence perpetrator that result in fear, humiliation, feelings of worthlessness, endangerment, and other psychological anxieties of victims. [10] 

Psychological/emotional violence:

  • Humiliating partner, calling them names, e.g. fat, ugly, stupid, mad, junkie
  • Convincing partner they are ‘mad’
  • Constantly denigrating, questioning or interrogating partner
  • Making partner feel guilty
  • Undermining partner’s confidence
  • Constant accusations of having an affair
  • Threatening suicide
  • Threats to hurt a partner, their children, their family/friends, their pets
  • Threatening to have them sectioned, to report them to the police or social services, particularly if the victim has substance use or mental health problems
  • Threats to report someone’s immigration status to the authorities
  • Threats to show pornographic images of the victim to service providers, family, friends, employer
  • Isolating partner, children from their friends, relatives …
What is sexual violence?2017-04-06T14:35:20+00:00

Sexual violence includes all sexual behaviour that a family member is forced into, does not agree with or does not understand its meaning due to his/her developmental stage. [10]

Sexual violence:

  • Rape
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Insulting, humiliating remarks with sexual connotation
  • Imposition of a ‘dress code’, e.g. to wear either sexualized clothing or clothing deemed to be ‘modest’
  • Making someone perform unwanted sexual acts
  • Making someone watch or engage in pornography
  • Pimping someone out, i.e. forcing them to have sex with other people in exchange for money, drugs, etc.
  • The use of technology to get the victim to post sexual images of themselves
  • Refusing to use or allow contraception which results in sexually transmitted infections and/or unwanted pregnancies
What constitutes physical violence?2017-04-06T14:29:09+00:00

Physical violence constitutes every use of physical force that results in pain, fear or humiliation of a victim regardless of actual injuries. [11]

Physical violence:

  • Punching, kicking, biting
  • Pulling hair
  • Drowning
  • Stabbing
  • Burning
  • Withholding medication
  • Throwing objects
  • Causing a woman to miscarry
  • Femicide
What is economic violence?2017-04-06T14:26:33+00:00

Economic violence is a form of violence, which includes all forms of humiliation and domination over the victim with the denial of rights relate to earnings and means of survival. Some forms of such violence include limitation of the right to employment and the right to manage own money, forcing into financial dependence or coercion of the victims to take over the entire financial burden for the perpetrator of violence.« [12] Economic violence also includes non-payment of maintenance for the child.

 Financial/economic violence:

  • Preventing partner from getting a job
  • Harassing partner at work
  • Denying partner access to money
  • Stealing partner’s or children’s money
  • Gambling in a way that threatens a family’s standard of living
  • Conducting surveillance of a partner’s expenditure and activities
  • Making major financial decisions alone
  • Running up debts
  • Withholding money to enforce a course of action, dictating expenditure
  • Destroying victim’s possessions
  • Non-payment of child maintenance
What constitutes neglect?2017-04-06T14:20:55+00:00

Neglect is a form of violence when a person does not perform due care of a family member who requires such care due to illness, disability, age, developmental or other personal circumstances. [10]

What constitutes stalking?2017-04-06T14:19:25+00:00
  • Following a victim, showing up wherever a victim is,
  • Sending unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails to a victim,
  • Damaging victim’s home, car, or other property,
  • Monitoring victim’s phone calls or computer use,
  • Using technology (hidden cameras, global positioning systems (GPS) …) to track where victims is,
  • Driving by or hanging out at victim’s home, school, work,
  • Threatening to hurt a victim, her/his family, friends, or pets,
  • Finding out about a victim by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators,
  • going through victim’s garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbours, or co-workers
  • Posting information or spreading rumours about a victim on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth,
  • Other actions that control, track, or frighten a victim.

More about stalking can be found here.

What is psychological abuse of children?2017-04-06T14:17:05+00:00

Psychological abuse of children is a pattern of behaviour that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self- worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often very difficult to prove. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other types of maltreatment are identified. [3]

What constitutes physical abuse of children?2017-04-06T14:15:49+00:00

Physical abuse of children is non-accidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child. [3]

What is child neglect?2017-04-06T13:14:58+00:00

Child neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be:

  • Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
  • Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)
  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
  • Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs) [3]
What constitutes child sexual abuse?2017-04-06T13:13:23+00:00

Child sexual abuse includes activities by a parent or caregiver such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Sexual abuse is the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct. [3]

If children misbehave, not work had enough in school, are rude, etc. – is it OK for parents to be violent towards them?2017-04-06T13:11:45+00:00


Parents who are violent toward their children project the responsibility for violence to children, saying that children misbehave, not work hard enough in school, are rude, etc. All these are excuses. Violence is never a right way to respond. It’s the parents’ responsibility to seek help for themselves to act appropriately or to stop violence and protect their children.

 All children have the right to live in a violence free home, being loved and cared for.
Does beating a child as punishment constitute domestic violence?2017-04-06T13:08:40+00:00

Yes, domestic violence includes all acts of physical violence.

Can men also be victims of domestic violence?2017-04-06T13:07:44+00:00

Men can be victims of domestic violence, too. Violence can happen to men from all cultures, no matter the age, education, occupation.

Men can be victims of domestic violence by men or by women. Research shows that violence is happening in heterosexual relationships to the same extent as in homosexual relationships.

More info about violence in homosexual relationships is available on Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project.

Typically, men are physically stronger than women, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier for them to stop the violence and/or leave the abusive relationship.

What is abuse of elderly people?2017-04-06T13:05:24+00:00

Abuse of elderly people (over 65) happens both within families as well as institutions or other people. Most common forms of elderly abuse are neglect (i.e. removal of things necessary for living), physical abuse (slapping, hair pulling, hitting, pushing, shaking, etc.), psychological or emotional abuse (name calling, humiliation, offensive speech, threats, locking in a house or apartment, denial of contact with other people, etc.), financial or material abuse (theft, banking/credit card abuse, forgery of signature, forced contract signature, testament, etc.).

What is institutional elderly abuse?2017-04-06T13:03:54+00:00

Institutional elderly abuse happens in an institutional environment, for example in elderly homes, hospitals, institutions, etc. The abusers can be family, employees (nursing staff or roommates).

What constitutes violence and abuse of trans-people?2017-04-06T13:01:06+00:00

Trans-people experience unique forms of domestic abuse. [5] Furthermore, trans-people may also be lesbian, gay or bisexual, creating multiple potential streams of discrimination and disadvantage.

Domestic abuse against trans-people can include:

  • threats to disclose someone’s gender identity without consent, i.e. to an employer, family or community;
  • criticising you for not being a real woman/man, if you have only recently come out or not undergone gender reassignment surgery;
  • trying to convince them that they deserve abuse because hormones are influencing behaviour;
  • withholding money for transition (medication, clothes or surgery);
  • withholding medication (hormones); coercing victims to get gender reassignment surgery;
  • targeting sexual or emotional abuse towards parts of the body which they may be ashamed of or detached from;
  • refusing to use their pronoun or name and ridiculing gender identity by criticising appearance, dress or voice quality, as well as many more.
What is trafficking in human beings?2017-04-06T12:59:16+00:00

Trafficking in human beings is abuse of a person for the purpose of exploitation and making money. It is a grave violation of human rights, since a human being becomes a thing of trade. A person is owned by someone and his/her freedom is taken away.

What are the forms of human trafficking?2017-04-06T12:57:39+00:00
  • Forced prostitution
  • Forced labour
  • Forced begging
  • Forced weddings
  • Illegal adoptions
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Child sexual abuse imagery
  • Servitude
  • Forced criminal activity
  • Human organ/tissue/blood trafficking

Most common forms of trafficking in human beings are prostitution or other forms of sexual abuse, forced labour, slavery, servitude, human organ, tissue or blood trafficking. According to the data of the International Labour Organization, there are over 2.4 million victims of human trafficking, half of this are children. Majority of them are forced into prostitution (43%), slavery (32%) or both (25%). When it comes to forced commercial sexual abuse the majority cases are women and girls (98%) (see here for more).

Human trafficking is the slavery of the 21st century and one of the activities of international crime organizations.
Is domestic and gender based violence a private matter?2017-04-06T12:52:41+00:00

No! This is a myth. Domestic and gender based violence is not a private matter, it does not happen merely in intimate relationships or in a domestic setting. The consequence of this myth is the fact that victims are less likely to receive or seek help [7].

Society with its messages of male dominance and “natural” female submissiveness adds to the creation of circumstances due to which domestic and gender based violence is a worldwide problem of epidemic proportions. Gender based violence is a violation of human rights. Therefore, this type of violence cannot be stopped in private; interventions from the state are crucial to ensure the protection of human rights through different institutions.

What are the risk factors of domestic and gender based violence?2017-04-06T12:50:23+00:00

Similarly, there is no one factor which leads individuals to abuse their partners and/or family members, but rather this is likely to be a result of an interaction of societal, situational, and individual factors. Risk factors have one underlying commonality: the abuser feels the need to exert complete control over his or her partner.

The abuser may convince the victim that she or he deserves the abuse/violence and provoked it in some way, causing the abuser to “lose control”. They “offer” different reasons as excuses for their violent behaviour. It is important to note that victims do not cause violence. The abuser is in control of his or her behaviour.

Actual risk factors include:

  • Past experience of being a victim of violence
  • A belief that violence is a way to solve a problem
  • The need to exert complete control over one’s partner
  • Male domination attitude
  • A belief that violence is a way to raise a child
  • Gender inequality
Do alcohol, drug abuse and mental illness cause domestic violence?2017-04-06T12:48:22+00:00

No. Alcohol use, drug use, stress, and mental illness do not cause domestic violence, but are used as excuses for violence [8].

Can a violence offender control his/her behavior?2017-04-06T12:45:58+00:00

Yes. 85% of violent men are only abusive to their intimate partner or a family member. Most are abusive only in private sphere, where they don’t anticipate negative consequences so they think they are allowed to use violence. Often time they only injure parts of the body that are covered by clothing. This indicates a high degree of control.

Is violent behavior in the nature of an individual?2017-04-06T12:43:05+00:00

Violent behaviour is NOT in the nature of an individual. The reasons for violence cannot be found in the biological characteristics of men, since the majority of men are not violent. Also, not all women are victims of violence. Therefore, we cannot conclude that the role of a victim is related to the biological characteristics of a woman. It is erroneous to think that women want to be victims due to their need to be taken care of, to be guided.

What are the risk factors of gender based violence?2017-04-06T12:39:46+00:00

“Gender based violence is rooted in discriminatory cultural beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate inequality and powerlessness, in particular of women and girls. Various other factors, such as poverty, lack of education and livelihood opportunities, and impunity for crime and abuse, also tend to contribute to and reinforce a culture of violence and discrimination based on gender.” [12].

Violence is not directly related to alcohol or drug abuse, mental health issues, poverty, level of education, religion, ethnicity etc.
No cause or risk factor justifies the violence. It should not be used as a rationale for abuser’s behaviour.
Vulnerable groups that are especially at risk for domestic violence include the elderly and people with physical, mental, sensory disabilities.
How does violence in an abusive relationship occur?2017-04-06T12:35:57+00:00

Domestic violence begins to gradually increase both in extent as well as frequency after the first violent event. It generally begins with milder forms of psychological violence, which the victim does not even recognize as violence. In order to stop further violence, the victim slowly adapts his/her life and accepts numerous limitations set by the abuser. The violence increases together with the abuser’s increasing need to exert power and control.

Violence generally begins with milder forms of psychological violence. It begins to gradually increase both in extent as well as frequency after the first violent event.
Why doesn’t the victim leave if it is so bad?2017-04-06T12:30:16+00:00

There are many reasons why victims of violence don’t leave their abusive partners. It is a fact that leaving an abusive relationship can be dangerous. The worst injuries and even femicide occur when a violent partner realizes that his victim in going to leave him. Research shows that 76% of domestic violence related killings of women happen after victims end abusive relationships [9]. The question should not be “Why doesn’t a victim leave?” it should be “Why doesn’t a violence offender stop?”

What are the reasons why people stay in abusive relationships?2017-04-06T12:24:50+00:00

Reasons include:

  • Fear
  • Isolation, lack of social network support
  • Financial dependence
  • Emotional dependence
  • Belief system (»sanctity of marriage«, »children need a father and a mother«, etc.)
  • Hope
  • Shame
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Cultural barriers
  • Lack of sources of help
Can ending an abusive relationship be dangerous?2017-04-06T12:03:02+00:00
Yes. Ending an abusive relationship and leaving an abusive partner is often very hard. It can be connected with risks of emotional, psychological, and sometimes also physical harm.

Some women leave the abusive relationship only after the partner becomes aggressive toward children, while others leave when children grow up and become independent. It is a fact that leaving an abusive relationship can be an incredibly dangerous situation; therefore, women decide to take that path only after they feel they have nothing left to loose and are willing to risk their lives. “Research displayed that women who leave their abusive partners are often victims of extensive bodily injuries or even femicide. They are particularly at risk when the abuser realises that the victim will leave. An American research showed that the incidence of femicide is 75% higher in women who leave their abusive partners than in those who stay with them « [13]

What should I do if the victim returns to the abuser?2017-04-06T12:10:40+00:00

After leaving an abusive relationship, some victims still decide to return to their abuser since they do not have appropriate conditions and sufficient strength to withstand the numerous uncertainties, hardships and fears they are facing. Therefore, after some time away, they return to the abusive relationship. [14] Professionals and other people who can help a victim have to stay supportive and available so she or he doesn’t feel inhibited or embarrassed about approaching them for help again [15].

How do people respond to violence?2017-04-07T09:00:02+00:00

Common responses of people to violence can be:

  • Denial – violence did not really occur, there is no violence in this family/community/society; victims of violence are lying.
  • Minimization – there is less violence and it is not as bad as is depicted; the victims of violence are exaggerating; these are merely individual incidents.
  • Rationalization – violence occurred due to justified reasons; the victim deserved »it«; the victim provoked the perpetrator of violence and he/she could not respond in a different manner.
  • Misinterpretation – inappropriate, misleading, wrong terminology or definition of violence.
  • Silence – due to an ongoing belief that domestic violence is a private matter, men and women, perpetrators and victims of violence, as well as witnesses are not speaking up.
What are the characteristics of a family where domestic violence occurs?2017-04-07T08:58:57+00:00

Some common characteristics can be identified in the families where domestic violence is occurring. Two main characteristics are a high level of control and the offender’s abuse of power.

Other characteristics include:

  • The family is isolated, closed from others, with a weak social network. Family members are not allowed to spend time with friends, neighbours, grandparents, …
  • High level of control from the dominant partner (psychological, physical, financial).
  • The victims of violence live in an abusive relationship using different survival strategies such asdenial of violence, minimisation of violence, rationalisation of violence, idealisation of a family life.
  • There is a constant atmosphere of uncertainty, tension.
What are the consequences of domestic violence?2017-04-07T08:56:40+00:00

The consequences of domestic and gender based violence are various and multiple. There is not a unique “combination” of consequences that would confirm these forms of violence. Domestic and gender based violence can have various effects on the victim’s health.

The victim can lose a sense of security, control, and trust.

The consequences of violence can be displayed in:

  • Altered way of thinking, altered perception of self, others, the world, troubles with memory, concentration, poor expectations regarding the future…
  • Altered emotional response
  • Physical response, issues, disorders, diseases
  • Behaviour

Domestic and gender based violence also represent a big financial burden for the state (medical expenses, sick leave expenses, expenses related to prevention of further violence).

Common consequences of violence are loss of sense of security, loss of control, and trust.
What are the consequences of violence of children?2017-04-07T08:54:09+00:00

The way children respond to violence and the consequences they suffer are various. Some consequences are visible and obvious, while others are hidden and more difficult to recognize. It is important to understand the connections between different components of the way a child operates (cognitive, emotional, physical operations and behaviours). The consequences of violence have to be evaluated in the context of the child’s developmental phase, as well as in the context of his/her way of operating in the past and currently, current family situations, etc.

The consequences are complex

Children have different types of developmental needs based on their developmental phase. Experiences of violence can influence the fulfilment of these needs. Exposure to violence can influence a child’s physical health and development, psychological health, emotional, and behavioural development, identity formation, self-image, relations with other people, self-preservation skills. Stien and Kendall (2004) emphasize that the results of numerous analyses display negative consequences of experiences of violence and abuse during childhood on brain development; namely, these consequences fragment brain functioning and have a negative effect on brain development, memory, and learning.

Sense of security, control, and trust

Traumatic experiences of violence destroy the feeling of security, the sense of control and trust. As a consequence of the experience of violence, a child’s sense of self, others, of the world can alter.

Difficulties with regulation of emotions and arousal

Inappropriate style of attachment can diminish a child’s ability to regulate affection (Forgash and Copeley, 2008). This is common in cases where a child is a victim of violence in early childhood. A child will learn to “switch off” the unpleasant excessive activation of the sympathetic nervous system with spontaneous activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Repetition of this pattern becomes the basis for subsequent experiencing of shame and dissociation as greatly exaggerated response to stress (Forgash and Copeley, 2008). As a consequence of traumatic experiences, the brain can stay active and ready for defense from danger for a longer period of time. The organism alarm system is constantly active and stimulated by traumatic memories. This is a condition of chronic stress, which has inevitable repercussions on the physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural functioning of a child. Children, who are victims of violence and abuse oftentimes experience either extreme response, excitement, flood of emotions on one hand, or emotional numbness, irresponsiveness on the other hand (Stien and Kendall, 2004). Constant feeling of threat, fear, and memories of the traumatic event generally lead to avoidance and emotional numbness, which acts as a wall from painful memories and experiences.


Dissociation is an important defense mechanism associated with traumatic experiences. It has a double function, namely, it aids an individual to withdraw from the traumatic experience, to avoid pain, during the traumatic event, and consequently disables the integration of traumatic experience in the perspective of their life (van der Hart, Nijenhuis, Steele, 2006, v Forgash in Copeley, 2008). Dissociation is viewed as a solution for the feeling of helplessness.


Experiences of violence, as traumatic experiences, can on one hand cause incredibly picturesque memory and on the other hand a complete block of the integration of experience. In such a way, the victim of violence can either remember the traumatic event vividly and in great detail or not remember anything, maybe only fragments. Oftentimes, it is a combination of both (van der Kolk and others, 2007). When a child talks about traumatic experiences it is important to consider that he/she might not tell everything that he/she remembers; that certain circumstances were not observed and consequently not memorized; that the child forgot some things; that some things have „changed“ when the things he/she remembered were mixed with new information or that the memory lapses are „complemented“ with own explanations and information; certain contents were pushed into the unconscious under the influence of psychological defences, while others will come back in time. Certain children and also adults might not have a verbal memory of the experiences of violence, while the emotional memory will be saved in the body. The latter is due to the fact that the hippocampus section of the brain, which enables the storage of memories, is developed during the second and third year of age, while the amygdala, the section of the brain that detects horror and fear, is mature at birth (Burke, 2012, in Van der Kolk, 1996).

Difficulties in personal relationships

Children who are victims of violence often experience difficulties with trust, in themselves and others, difficulties creating bonds with others, difficulties in expressing and accepting affection. Often there is a strong need and longing for closeness on one hand, and fear from closeness on the other hand, which can represent a risk for experiences of pain (Stien and Kendall, 2004). Children can develop a number of survival strategies related to personal relationships. We will face these during the counselling process. Sometimes a child needs a lot of time to slowly take a step closer in the relationship and attempts to trust. Sometimes, a child can seem open on the outside; however, he/she is actually reserved. Other times, a child’s behaviour can be disturbing or even destructive. He/she might not be willing to cooperate, can reject you or the counselling process either directly or indirectly, or can be rebellious. However, he/she can also be very obedient, cooperative, will quickly create close relationship and will idealize you. Some children have a strong need to have the control in the relationship.

Wrong model

Physical violence, which a child experiences in his/her family either as a direct victim or as a witness, can create a „message“ that physical violence is an acceptable way of conflict resolution and gaining control over other people. According to van der Kolk (1997, in Stien and Kendall, 2004) there is a 10x greater probability for boys who witness their fathers abusing their partner to abuse their partner as grown men, as opposed to the men who did not experience partnership violence as children.

What are the survival strategies of children victims of violence?2017-04-07T08:50:56+00:00

Children, as well as adults, develop different strategies in order to survive experiences of violence. These strategies are individual patterns of thinking and acting. Some of these strategies are presented as follows:

  • withdrawal, passivity – to be unnoticed, to avoid violence, etc.,
  • diligence and obedience – to prevent violence,
  • rebellious behaviour, destructive behaviour… – possibly in order to attract attention (»so that somebody would see their distress«),
  • emotional numbness,
  • dissociation,
  • preoccupation with attempts to protect himself/herself, siblings, family, from violence – he/she is constantly “on guard”,
  • constant attention and protection of the adult, who is a victim of domestic violence (most often this is the mother) – he/she wants to have contact visual control,
  • constant emotional support to the victim of domestic violence,
  • rejection of the person who is the victim of domestic violence,
  • the child takes the side of the perpetrator – denies, minimalizes abuse and can also begin to perform abuse,
  • either complete rejection of violence or following the model of violence behaviour, which “gives you a sense of power”;
  • clinging to a favourite toy, which aids the child to “work through” the experiences of violence,
  • withdrawal to fantasy,
  • either attempts to reach above-average academic achievements, sports achievements or stops trying with school work,
  • takes on the role of the adult in the family, who has to perform all housekeeping chores, take care of younger siblings, etc.,
  • delinquent behaviour,
  • drug and alcohol abuse,
  • eating disorders,
  • self-harm,
  • suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts,
  • psychosomatic problems, diseases.

The survival strategies aid the child to survive and protect himself/herself from violence and as such positive; however, in the long term such strategies are harmful for personal development of a child. Appropriate early intervention for the protection of a child is of extreme importance for the decrease of the consequences of violence experienced by a child. [6]

What are the warning signs of an abusive relationship?2017-04-07T08:46:24+00:00

Victims of domestic and gender based violence may [1]:

  • Seem alert and anxious to please their abusive partner/parent, go along with everything he or she says or does;
  • Frequently report to their partner/parent about their whereabouts and their activities;
  • Receive frequent, controlling, harassing phone calls from their abusive partner or/and are being followed by their partner;
  • Are not allowed or are restricted from having contact with their family and friends;
  • Are not allowed or rarely go out in public without their partner;
  • Have limited access to money;
  • Have frequent injuries, which they explain as the consequence of an “accident”;
  • Frequently and without explanation miss work, school, or social occasions;
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars;
  • Show changes in their behaviour, personality (have low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident, become withdrawn, etc.);
  • Have emotional and mental health problems (are depressed, anxious, suicidal, etc.).
What are the major reasons for not disclosing abuse?2017-04-07T08:44:36+00:00

The major reasons for not disclosing abuse [2]:

  • Self-blame, feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment;
  • Fear of not being believed;
  • Fear that disclosure will be a reason for an escalation of violence;
  • Fear of formal proceedings (police, social welfare, court) and consequences of these proceedings (losing children, partner taken to prison …).
What are the major reasons children do not disclose their experience(s) of violence and abuse?2017-04-07T08:43:29+00:00

The major reasons why it is difficult for children to disclose their experience(s) of violence and abuse:

  • Manipulation techniques of the abuser;
  • Threats of the abuser;
  • The abuser bribes the child with different “privileges” or benefits;
  • Affection towards the abuser, which is based on their relationships (in the cases when the abuser is one of the parents or a caretaker this relationship is particularly complicated);
  • Fear of not being believed;
  • Fear of losing the love of the parent;
  • Feelings of guilt about the abuse (punishment happened because of being naughty, etc.);
  • Feelings of guilt and responsibility for the breakup of the family (if the abuse in the family is revealed);
  • Feelings of guilt and responsibility for what will happen with the abuser (prison sentence);
  • Feelings of shame;
  • Limited communication capabilities of a small child;
  • Negative experiences following the disclosure of the abuse;
  • Lack of support and protection from the parent, who is not the abuser;
  • Emotional attachment to the abuser;
  • Imbalance of power between an adult and a child.
What are the risks of getting help or deciding to leave?2017-04-07T08:39:39+00:00

Risks of physical violence and psychological harm [1]

  • Threats and abuse can escalate, resulting in harm to the victim, children, friends, family, or pets.
  • Abuser can implement his/her suicide threats and harm himself/herself.
  • Abuser does not stop the harassment, stalking, and verbal and emotional attacks. This is particularly problematic if the abuser has ongoing contact (such as during court ordered visitation).
  • Serious physical harm and/or death of the victim.
  • Rape or sexual abuse of the victim.

Risks related to children [1]

  • Emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse
  • Increased risks to children due to un-supervised or poorly supervised visitation of the abuser.
  • Losing children (loss of custody or possible kidnapping by the abuser).
  • Negative impact on children as a result of the family breakup, domestic violence.

Risks related to finances [1]

  • Concern about being able to pay legal fees.
  • Reduced standard of living – possible loss of home, possessions, and neighbourhood.
  • Loss of income or job – possible loss of partner’s income, may have to quit a job due to relocation or having to take care of children alone, inability to work due to threats and harassment.

Risks related to relationship [1]

  • Losing the partner, losing the relationship.
  • Losing help with the children, transportation, household.
  • Losing the caretaker (for older person or person with disabilities).

Risks related to relationships with family, friends and community [1]

  • Fear of negative responses from friends, family members, and professionals.
  • Not being believed or taken seriously, being blamed or pressured to take actions that don’t “feel right”.
  • Being judged as a bad wife, mother, child, father, husband, partner …
  • Fear of making people feel uncomfortable about “taking sides” or not wanting to get involved.
  • Worrying about being a burden to friends and family by asking them for help.
  • Being pressured to stay in the relationship because of religious and/or cultural beliefs or because the children “need a father.”
  • Worrying that actions of people trying to help may actually worsen the situation (make it more dangerous).
What does the victim need when seeking help?2017-04-07T08:37:22+00:00

Seeking help is often a staged process. At each stage of seeking help, victims of violence are seeking an end to the violence and not necessary an end to a relationship. Information about different resources of help and support that are available to them is very important.

The feelings about the abuse, the abuser, the victim herself or himself are all subject to change; therefore, it is important for professionals and other people who can help the victim to make sure the victim does not feel inhibited or embarrassed about approaching them for help after such a change occurs.[2]

Do you have to be a professional to be able to provide help to a victim of violence?2017-04-07T08:36:07+00:00


It is important to encourage victims of violence to speak up about their experiences of abuse, to help them understand their situation, and to provide the help they need. Even though you might feel that you are not in a position to offer high quality support and intervention that would perfectly match victims’ needs, it’s important to have in mind that we can all, at the very least, make a commitment to listen to victims of violence, not deny or minimize their experiences and offer them emotional support. For many survivors, having a supportive person listen to them and believe them can be a very important experience.

How should I talk to a victims of violence?2017-04-07T08:35:14+00:00

It is important to have a supportive conversation; the basis for which is a safe environment and a supportive, trusted relationship.

Supportive environment consists of:

  • physical and emotional safety;
  • confidentiality;
  • clearly displayed leaflets, posters, and materials with information for victims of violence can provide an important message to the victims of violence that they are in a place where it is safe to speak up about violence. The materials have to be available in different formats and if possible in different languages.

Supportive relationship consists of:

  • understanding without judgement;
  • empathetic support;
  • gender of the person offering help can be an important factor.
The basic safety for a supportive communication with a victim of violence is provided with a suitable place, where we talk, and an empathic relationship.
When does a relationship feel safe?2017-04-07T08:33:38+00:00
  • You get the support you need.
  • People are loyal.
  • You are not judged.
  • You are acknowledged as you are, what you experience, feel, and think.
  • You are heard.
  • People are clear.
  • You are accepted as you are.
  • The relationship feels authentic.
  • People are open and supportive.
When is it safe to ask about violence?2017-04-07T08:31:19+00:00

Only ask about domestic and gender based violence when there is no-one else accompanying the person. An intimate relationship partner, a family member or grown up children could be the offenders.

What are the basic recommendations for conversations with victims of violence?2017-04-07T08:32:41+00:00
  • Listen without judgement.
  • Observe (what you see, hear, how a person speaks, her/his body language).
  • Ask, but do not interrogate.
  • Don’t make quick conclusions.
  • Be honest.
  • Do not attempt to rescue.

 Active listening guidelines

  • Listen carefully and do not interrupt.
  • Respect the meaning of silence – you have to allow it and you have to be able to handle it.

Pay attention to body language

  • Show attentiveness and interest with body language.
  • Provide non-verbal stimulation for conversation (i.e. nodding).
  • Pay attention to non-verbal communication of a recipient.
Note that victims of domestic violence have been probably experiencing abuse for a longer period of time. You should understand that they might not want to discuss issues right away. It’s important to stay patient and make sure not to impose your expectations on the victim (i.e. leaving the abusive relationship).
What to do, what to say when talking to a victim of violence?2017-04-07T08:18:12+00:00
  • Be supportive and kind.
  • It is OK to ask:
    • “How can I help you?”
    • “Is something wrong?”
    • Do you need help?”
    • Do you feel threatened?”
    • “Is either your life or the life of your children endangered in any way?”
    • “Have you told anybody about the violence/abuse yet?”
  • Show, express that you understand how difficult it must be for them.
  • Express care. Tell them that you would like to help.
  • If a person is upset, help her/him calm down. Ask her/him what can help her/him to calm down.
  • Try to help them ensure their physical safety.
  • Listen to what the person is saying (verbally and non-verbally).
  • Explain what you can do, how you can help.
  • Emphasize that she/he is a strong person to be able to survive experiences of violence and disclose information about the violence.
  • Pay attention to what a person needs, expects (protection to stop the violence, information on where to turn to receive professional help, help in reporting violence, help in calling a crisis centre/ a shelter, legal advice etc.)
  • Show, express that you believe them.
  • Don’t attempt to search for evidence that she/he is really a victim of a criminal act. Leave this to the police. Believe her/him that she/he is a victim of violence.
  • Don’t search for “objective truth”. You leave this for the police. Your focus should be on offering emotional support to a person in distress and basic information about help that is available.
  • Clearly express your position against violence. Don’t deny, minimalize, rationalize, apologize, or tolerate violence.
  • Tell them that they have the right to feel safe.
  • Explain that no one has the right to perform violent acts towards another person.
  • Tell them: “You are not to blame for the violence or abuse.” Emphasize that the person causing violence is the one who is entirely responsible for the violence.
  • Help them explore their resources of support and help (friends, family, co-workers, knowledge, skills …).
  • Provide information regarding different programs for help (institutions, non-governmental organisations, procedures).
  • Respect their decision.
  • Thank them for telling you about the violence, for trusting you.
What not to do, what not to say when talking to a victim of violence?2017-04-07T08:15:51+00:00
  • Don’t ask:
    • “What did you do that caused the other person to be violent toward you?”
    • “Why didn’t you report violence?”
    • “Why didn’t you leave?”
    • “How could you let somebody treat you that way?”
  • Do not search for evidence of violence.
  • Never demand confrontation with the abuser.
  • The person who performs violence has greater power than the victim, the relationship is not equal.
  • Do not act patronizingly toward victims of violence. Treat them as competent adults.
  • Do not moralize, evaluate or judge people and their thinking, feelings and actions.
  • Do not have unreal expectations of the victims. We do not put pressure on them to do something.
  • Do not give advice.
  • Don’t make them think that their behaviour contributed to violence.
  • Don’t interrogate or ask for detailed information about what happened.
  • Don’t pretend that you didn’t hear them disclosing abuse, violence.
  • Don’t try to rescue a person. Keep appropriate borders (don’t invite them to stay at your house when they have nowhere to go, accompany them to their home in order for them to take clothes, documents and other things that they might need when leaving the abusive partner …).
  • Don’t respond in an overly dramatic way (“Oh, this is a catastrophe; this is really shocking, violence causes irreparable damage …”).
  • Don’t criticize the victim or the offender.
  • Don’t share in detail your personal experiences of domestic abuse.
  • Don’t force a person to leave an offender.
Is it appropriate to ask: “Why didn’t you leave before?”2017-04-07T07:46:46+00:00

No, such a question is not appropriate.

Is it appropriate to criticize the perpetrator when talking to a victim of violence?2017-04-07T07:45:39+00:00

No, it is not appropriate. You should not criticize anybody. It is important to condemn the actions, but not the person.

Is it appropriate to criticize the child – victim of violence for behaviour that you consider inappropriate (e.g. breaking a glass vase, skipping school, being rude to a parent …)?2017-04-07T07:44:11+00:00

No, it is not appropriate. You should not criticize anybody. However, it is important to discuss inappropriate behaviour.

What should I do when faced with a child victim of violence/abuse?2017-04-07T07:39:03+00:00

When faced with the reality of violence or sexual abuse of a child, the majority cannot avoid the initial reaction of denial: “Can this be possible?” I can’t believe this could be true.” Often, a person is torn between doing something and not doing anything, because “I am not sure if this is even true” or “I don’t know what to do to make sure I help the child and not accidentally cause greater damage”. It is important that we always believe them and act to protect them, since they cannot protect themselves. Suspected violence against a child should always be reported. The events following the uncovering of physical or sexual abuse of a child (reactions of the family, of other people, police intervention, court, centre for social work, etc.) have a crucial impact on the consequences of violence or sexual abuse for the child.

It is important to make sure that the child talks about violence or sexual abuse in detail as few times as possible. In such a way we can prevent additional trauma to the child due to constant detailed interrogation, remembering and talking about the violence they experienced.

Some basic recommendations:

  • Stay calm, your first response is very important.
  • Believe what the child is saying. Too often it happens that we do not believe children. Listen to the child in a non-judgemental manner.
  • Confirm the child’s feelings (“I understand that you are angry.”, “it’s normal to be sad.”)
  • A child might use direct, graphic expressions to describe her/his experiences. Be prepared. Attempt to use the same expressions.
  • Do not avoid the subjects that are embarrassing you. Make sure that the child knows that she/he can talk to you about everything.
  • Do not jump to conclusions. Let the child first tell her/his story.
  • Assure the child that:
    • you care;
    • you are still her/his friend;
    • it is not her/his fault.
  • Tell the child how you will act, what you will do (e.g. tell somebody to get proper help …).
What are the things to avoid when faced with a child victim of violence/abuse?2017-04-07T07:34:52+00:00
  • Denial that the abuse happened (“Are you really sure that this happened?”).
  • Emphasizing the child’s guilt and responsibility (“You were really naughty”, “You were touching your uncle, too.”)
  • Overly dramatic reaction (“Oh, this is a catastrophe; this is really shocking …”)
  • Emphasizing the victim status (that a child is “damaged”, powerless …).
  • Overly protective behaviour towards the child.
  • Suggestive questions (“Did you go to his room?”).
  • Negative sentence format.
  • Two questions in a sentence, complex questions (who, to whom, what, etc.).
  • Words in foreign language, abstract words.
  • Questions starting with “why” (“Why didn’t you tell about this sooner?”).
  • Expressing shock and disbelief.
  • Criticizing, moralizing, scolding.
  • Threats (“You must tell the truth. Your father can go to jail.)
  • Promises beyond your power (“I promise that this will never happen to you again.” “I promise I won’t tell anybody about this.”)
Are psychological, emotional and behavioural states of the victims pathologic?2017-04-07T07:33:33+00:00


Psychological, emotional and behavioural states of the victims should not be treated as pathologic, but as normal reactions to the endured violence. In order to be able to survive in a violent relationship, the victim of violence develops strategies of survival, which is a normal reaction to the endured violence.[5]

What are the steps of a supportive conversation?2017-04-11T12:25:49+00:00


  1. Begin by introducing yourself.

“Hello, I’m Jane…”

2. Ask yourself if it is safe to ask/talk about violence? “Some of the questions you can ask are…

“Do you need help?”

“Is something wrong?”

“How can I help you?”

“Do you feel threatened?”

“Is either your life or the life of your children endangered in any way?”

Think about safety, trust, confidentiality. Important to consider: Where to talk to a person for her/him to feel safe and comfortable to talk about her/his experiences, distress. Who is present?


  • Listen carefully to what the person is saying (verbally and non-verbally).
  • Actively focus on the victim.
  • It is important to understand their needs and expectations from us.
  • This can importantly aid us in the evaluation of the emotional condition of the person, of her/his needs (for information, action, etc.), and of her/his expectations.
  • Define violence as violence. Do not use other definitions such as conflict, argument, poor communication, exaggeration, overly sensitive, etc.
  • Believe that they are a victim of violence.
  • Clearly determine who the victim is and who the abuser is.
  • Emphasize that the person causing violence is the one who is entirely responsible for the violence; never attempt to divide the responsibility for violence between the abuser and the victim.


  • Ask, explore, and listen: what steps have they already taken to stop the violence and get help?
    • has she/he talked about the violence to anybody prior to talking to you,
    • has she/he reported violence in the past,
    • did she/he receive help from social welfare,
    • is she / was she in a crisis centre or a shelter,
    • who has helped her/him so far…
  •  Offer emotional support to a victim of violence:
    • commend her/him for reaching out for help,
    • help eliminate feelings of guilt,
    • discuss her/his emotions, desires, and needs.


  • Explore together with the person their available resources (supportive social network, housing, finances, employment, information …) and the possible steps to stop violence, leave an abusive relationship.
  • Provide information regarding different programs for help (institutions, non-governmental organisations, procedures).
  • It’s important to explore together with a person what their resources of power are – things that help them calm down, relax, stay positive, feel connected, supported. What they can do to take care of their physical and psychological wellbeing.


  • Together with the victim make a plan for further action in order to stop violence and receive the needed help and support.
  • Support and respect their decision.
  • Tell them what your steps will be (if you are obliged to make a report to the police, etc.).
  • In an emergency, when life is threatened, or in other cases where the intervention of the police is needed, call the police!
  • Together with the victim create a SAFETY PLAN.
What are the key recommendations for victims of violence when they live with a violent partner?2017-04-07T07:13:55+00:00
  • Avoid the kitchen (knives, etc.)
  • Avoid any rooms where there is no way out, bathrooms, etc.
  • Avoid any rooms where weapons are stored.
  • Do not go into the room where the children are, as your partner could hurt them too. Teach them to move away and not to try to help. If children are old enough, you may be able to teach them to call the police.
  • Always carry (or have in the one place where you can grab in a hurry) important documents (passport, health card, identity card, driving license, etc.) and the medicines you or your children are taking.
  • Discuss with your children how to handle the outbreaks of violence (whether they go to the neighbours, call the police, etc.).
  • When physical violence is unavoidable, assume a position that will minimize the damage (curl up in a ball, protect your head with your hands)
  • Avoid wearing scarves or long jewellery; they can be used by the perpetrator to strangle you.
  • Keep your phone charged and always with you. Have important numbers on speed dial.
  • If possible, tell at least one neighbour about the abuse and ask them to call the police if she/ he hears screams or cries for help.
  • Try to maintain a relationship with at least one person you trust.
  • Keep track of all acts of violence and write them down in case you decide to report the abuse in the future. Store records somewhere safe, preferably away from home.
  • If you are injured, go to the doctor. Keep all your medical documentation in a safe place.
  • Try to keep at least one activity outside of your home (visit to the shop , walking the dog, taking out rubbish, etc.).
  • If possible, as often as possible, replace the password for your e-mail account, social network accounts (Facebook, Linkedin, etc.), and for online banking in order to limit the possibility of partner’s control.
  • Contact a local domestic violence program where you can obtain emotional support, counselling, advice on emergency housing and other information and services, whether you decide to stay in your relationship or leave.
  • Build as strong a support system as possible.
What are the key things to consider when leaving a violent relationship?2017-04-07T07:11:52+00:00

Take only strictly necessary things:

  • Important documents (ID card, healthcare card, driver’s license, birth certificates, marriage certificate, etc.)
  • Wallet
  • The keys to the apartment and car keys
  • Phone and charger for your phone
  • Medicine for you and your children

When in a safe place (safe house, crisis centre …) the police can accompany the victim to collect other personal belongings.

  • Make sure the partner will not notice that you are preparing to leave. If you go to work, go as usual, if you take your child to nursery, do it then. If you are at home most of the time, get out when your partner is not at home.
  • Move to a place where your partner will not seek you (safe house, friends who he/she does not know …).
  • If possible store at a friend’s or relative’s place your suitcase with essential personal belongings, copies of important documents, necessary medicines and spare keys for the car and flat.
  • If you have the opportunity to prepare a safety plan for leaving a violent relationship, connect with an NGO or charity that helps victims of violence.
  • You can also call the National Domestic Violence Helpline number. for help or advice: 0808 2000 247, or visit: http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
What are the key things to consider after leaving a violent relationship?2017-04-07T07:09:36+00:00
  • When staying at home install as many security mechanisms as possible (additional locks, security doors, alarm, external light sensor …).
  • Always carry a charged phone with important numbers on speed dial.
  • Call the police if your partner is again aggressive toward you (wants to break into the apartment, beat you …).
  • Teach children your telephone number and telephone number of the police in case your ex-partner attempts to kidnap them.
  • Think about changing your telephone number.
  • Think carefully about whom you disclose your new address to so your ex-partner does not find out.
  • Pay attention to the information you post online.
  • If possible, take care that your mail doesn’t go to the old address.
  • Think about reporting violence, this will provide more safety.
  • If your partner has a restraining order, ask your neighbours to call the police if they see him/her.
  • Make sure that your school and nursery are informed about your situation and about the contacts with children.
  • Avoid lonely streets and parking areas.
  • Change all passwords (social network, online banking …).
What to do when life if threatened?2017-04-07T07:08:38+00:00

In an emergency, when life is threatened, or in other cases where the intervention of the police is needed, call the police emergency number!

How to report violence?2017-04-07T07:07:46+00:00

You can report violence to the police.

  • Call 999 if it is an emergency or you are in immediate danger.
  • Alternatively, you can attend any police station in person or ask a friend or relative to do so on your behalf.
  • Call 101 if you wish to speak to the police and it is not an emergency.
  • If you are deaf or have speech impairment you can use a text-phone to call the police. Dial 18000 in an emergency or 18001 101 if your call is not an emergency.
What is important to know when calling the police?2017-04-07T07:06:29+00:00

When calling the police the victim of violence should provide the following information:

  • Personal information (name).
  • Location (where the victim is at the time of the call)
  • What happened, why the help of the police is needed.
  • In case a doctor is needed that should be stated immediately!
  • In case of immediate danger make sure the victim stays on the line. Police officer will tell them exactly what to do. If necessary, a police officer will be sent to their location.
What are the key things to remember when reporting violence?2017-04-07T07:05:06+00:00

A few things to remember when reporting violence:

  • The abuser will often threaten the victim to keep them quiet or will act as if nothing is wrong.
  • It is important that the victim loudly expresses the need for help.
  • Make sure the victim tells the police officers if there are other people present (children or other persons). If necessary the police will call other professionals to help the victim and a family (social workers, etc.).
  • Police officers will talk to the victim and the abuser separately; the procedure can take several hours.
  • If necessary, the police will issue a restraining order to the abuser, which means that the abuser will not be allowed to come near the victim regardless of their location.
  • If legal conditions are met, the police can detain the abuser.
  • After the completion of the procedures, the victim can return to the location of their residency.
What is important to know when reporting violence at the police station?2017-04-07T07:03:51+00:00
  • Be prepared when reporting violence – write down all information about the incidents so that you will be able to provide detailed information to the police. You will need to tell/describe what happened, why you need the help of the police.
  • Make sure to show the injuries to the police officer, go to the doctor and/or gynaecologist and save the paperwork for evidence.
  • When reporting violence make sure to tell the police officer who are the possible witnesses.
  • Make sure to tell the police officer about possible material damages as a consequence of violence, since they will investigate and obtain evidence.
  • Make sure to save all the paperwork related to the report.
  • It can take several months from the report of violence to actual court date.
What is important to know when reporting violence via e-mail or website?2017-04-07T07:02:35+00:00
  • Such report will not be responded as quickly as a report via telephone or a report at the police station.
  • Online report is intended for the non-urgent cases.
  • Make sure to file an online violence report when you are not directly endangered.
What are the available emergency measures in the UK to protect victims against further violence?2017-04-07T09:22:14+00:00

Regardless of whether the victim decides to report domestic violence, it is important to ensure that they are safe. The following measures are available in United Kingdom to protect victims against further violence. Measures and different forms of help are available through the police, civil courts, family courts, magistrates’ courts, and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

The core measures are:

  • Non-harassment and restraining orders.
  • Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) – ‘Clare’s Law’.
  • Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (England and Wales).
  • Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs)
  • Injunction: non-molestation order and occupation order.
  • Damages.
  • Emergency Protection Order.
Where can victims of domestic or gender-based violence retreat to safety when fleeing from violence?2017-04-07T09:19:36+00:00

Once a victim of violence decides to leave an abusive relationship, it is important to ensure her/his safety. In many cases, this includes retreat to a safe place away from the abuser. It is important to know that women and children who experience violence can retreat to shelters, safe houses, and crisis centers. Once in a safe place, they can start a new chapter in their lives.

Safe accommodation available in the UK includes:

  • Shelters and safe houses
  • Local authority emergency accommodation and the Homeless Persons’ Unit
  • Shelters/safe houses for victims of human trafficking

Shelters and safe houses

Any woman who has experienced domestic violence – emotional or physical – can go to a refuge, with or without children (although not all refuges are able to accept boys over the age of 12). Many refuges have disabled access. Some refuges are specially for women with particular cultural backgrounds.


Many refuges are run by Women’s Aid or Refuge, who jointly run the National Domestic Violence helpline. They can either give you telephone numbers of refuges so you can call them directly, or helpline staff can try to find a vacancy for you. The police and social services can also put you in touch with a refuge/safe house.


Women can stay in a refuge for as long as they need to, while they wait for accommodation in a new community, whether that’s a few days or a few months.


Women pay rent while staying in a refuge. They may be able to claim housing benefit to help cover the cost. If they still have to pay rent on the home they had to leave, they may be able to get housing benefit for two homes for up to four weeks.


Most refuges are ordinary houses but some are larger, purpose-built buildings. A few have self-contained family-sized accommodation. In most refuges, women get a room of their own (or to share with their children) and share a living room, kitchen and bathroom with other residents. Refuge workers can assist in many areas: help in finding a safe new home, budgeting and welfare benefits, finding nurseries and schools, and gaining legal advice.

Local authority emergency accommodation

You can apply for homelessness help from the council housing department if you don’t have anywhere to live or are threatened with homelessness. You might be eligible for emergency accommodation while the council makes enquiries into your situation. If the council has a duty to find you somewhere to live you will be asked to provide details of your situation. You may be asked for supporting evidence, which could include details and dates of incidents.

More information available at: https://www.gov.uk/emergency-housing-if-homelesshttp://rightsofwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/guide-to-domestic-violence-housing-and-homelessness.pdf

Refuge addresses (and sometimes telephone numbers) are confidential. There are over 500 refuge and support services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In the UK, you can call the Freephone National 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) which will find a refuge space for you if you want this. Many refuge organisations have public contact numbers, and if you want you can contact these yourself (see the Women’s Aid domestic abuse service directory, or look in the telephone book for your local Women’s Aid organisation or other domestic violence service). You can also contact refuge organisations through the Police, the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (UK) or 1850 60 90 90 (ROI), social services or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

What health problems may occur as a result of violence and what is important to know?2017-04-07T09:09:06+00:00

The effects of violence on a victim’s health are severe. In addition to the immediate injuries from the assault, battered women may suffer from chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, psychosomatic symptoms, and eating problems. Although psychological abuse is often considered less severe than physical violence, health care providers and advocates around the world are increasingly recognizing that all forms of domestic violence can have devastating physical and emotional health effects. Domestic violence is associated with mental health problems such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. Women who are abused suffer an increased risk of unplanned or early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. As trauma victims, they are also at an increased risk of substance abuse. According to a U.S. study, women who experience intimate partner abuse are three times more likely to have gynecological problems than non-abused women. [4]

Physical injuries are also common and include bruises and abrasions, fractured bones, lost teeth, internal injuries, gynecological problems and miscarriages. Whether in general practice, dentistry, health visiting, nursing, maternity services, psychiatry and mental health care, general medicine and surgery, or in Accident and Emergency care, health care professionals have daily contact with patients whose health is damaged by domestic violence, and who often face risks of further and more extreme injury.  If you identify that a victim is at high risk make a referral to the MARAC- Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference by contacting our MARAC Co-ordinator Allison Buchanan on 020 8227 2363. [2]

It is important that victims accurately describe their injury and how they sustained it. In the case of violence their medical record is very important by way of evidence in court. If the victim was raped, it is important to know that prior to any medical examination they should not wash or take a shower, in order to preserve material evidence.


Handbook “Psychosocial support to victims of domestic and gender-based violence” – intended for both professional and general public, and it consists of three parts. The first part of the handbook deals with the “ABC of domestic and gender based violence”. In this part, readers can find relevant and important information about the different types and forms of domestic and gender-based violence, as well as the prevalence and risk factors of such violence. The second part of the handbook provides useful information, guidelines and recommendations on how to recognize violence, identify victims, respond appropriately and take action when dealing with acts as well as victims of domestic and gender-based violence. The last part of the handbook provides readers with information on victims’ legal rights and forms of assistance and services available to them.

Promotional leaflet with basic information, which is useful both for people experiencing violence, as well as for those who can provide help and support.

Promotional brochures: a more detailed version with comprehensive information about different forms of violence and support available and additionally also a consolidated version. Both brochures have useful information regarding help available to domestic and gender-based violence victims in the UK. The brochure includes Facts and Figures on Domestic Violence in the UK as well as some situations that might serve as indicators of domestic violence. Such indicators help towards the early discovery of violence and the subsequent provision of appropriate support to victims, which is one of Project FIRST’s core objectives.


Our online interactive FIRST e-toolbox will include an e-learning program with:

  • three modules in the e-classroom “Psychosocial support for victims of domestic and gender based violence” where we can gain theoretical and practical knowledge helpful for providing support and assistance to victims (ABC about domestic and gender based violence; How to respond and provide support to the victims of violence; The rights of victims and different forms of help).
  • an e-help tool that will aid the professionals working as first points of contact in providing proper response and support to victims of violence.

The FIRST e-toolbox will be available online to members of the established network of first points of contact for victims of domestic and gender based violence, as well as all interested users and the general public with the goal of reaching as many people as possible. The target groups include  medical workers, teachers and educators, NGO professionals, counsellors, HR professionals, social workers, psychologists, law enforcement officers, lawyers along with any others who may come into contact with victims.

You can access the e-toolbox here. When you first visit the e-learning environment, you will need to register. Registration is easy and you only need to enter your e-mail, promotional code (first_uk) and the password you will create.


These have been established in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and the United Kingdom. They connect at least 25 different first points of contact in each country (i.e. schools, preschools, universities, different companies, non-governmental organizations, libraries, etc.).

Their role is to provide lay psychosocial support to victims of domestic and gender-based violence.

We will aim to ensure a high quality of offered support and aid at first points of contact to victims of violence by providing e-learning, as well as in-person training to persons at first points of contact. The “FIRST” e-toolbox (e-learning training program and e-help tool) has been implemented in combination with the “FIRST” train the trainers’ trainings.

The primary benefit of the project for persons at first points of contact will be their increased knowledge about domestic and gender-based violence. The combination of the e-learning training program with the e-help tool will aid in the provision of a proper response, thus ensuring that a victim of violence gets the necessary support.


Your organization is kindly invited to become a first point of contact and thus contribute to FIRST action against domestic and gender based violence.

What will be the steps on your part

  1. You will be invited to sign the partnership agreement for your organization to become a member of the national network for first points of contact for victims of domestic and gender based violence.
  2. You will identify / select the locations and persons who will act as first points of contact.
  3. Persons acting as first point of contact in your organisation will use FIRST e-toolbox (e-learning program and e-help tool on FIRST website). E-toolbox provides basic information about the characteristics of domestic and gender-based violence, the consequences of violence, victim rights, information about proper response and communication, basic legislation and legal issues.
  4. Your FIRST trainers will then present the FIRST program and implement and promote the use of the “FIRST” e-toolbox in your organization and local environment. The use of an online environment for the training program implementation provides greater flexibility and increased reach of potential participants, and is also ensures continued availability of the e-learning program and e-help tool after the formal end of the project.

What will be the steps on our part

  1. We will promote national networks of first points of contact nationally and internationally.
  2. We have developed the FIRST “e-toolbox”.
  3. We will offer technical, informational and counselling support to people working at first points of contact.


For information about organisations that provide help to victims of violence (children and adults) in different parts of the world you can check the International Domestic Violence Resource Guide available here.


In order to ensure the quality of the support offered to victims of domestic and gender based violence at first points of contact, we have developed and implemented the train-the-trainers program, which has been combined with the interactive e-learning training program for professionals who act as first points of contact in cases of domestic and gender based violence, as well as with the e-help tool that will provide additional support when working with victims of violence.

3-day trainings and a day of e-help tool completion were implemented in April and May 2017 and participants gained new knowledge and tools, which they will also present to colleagues in their organizations. This way they will contribute to increasing the resources and quality of psychosocial support available to victims of violence.


Your organization can become a first point of contact and contribute to FIRST action against domestic and gender based violence.



ISA institut
Prešernova cesta 5
1000 Ljubljana

Phone: +386 59 016 138
Email: info@isainstitut.si


The AIRE Centre (Advice on
Individual Rights in Europe)

505, Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
United Kingdom

Phone: 020 7831 4276


Association ‘Centre Dinamika’
9 ‘Panayot Hitov’ Street, floor 1
7012 Ruse
Place and post code: 7012 Ruse

Phone: +359 887 493 503
Email: centre_dinamika@abv.bg


Center for Women War Victims – ROSA
Kralja Držislava 2
10 000 Zagreb

Phone: +385 1 4551142
Email: cenzena@zamir.net