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Domestic abuse

Our Housing Officers are trained to support and advise vulnerable customers and work closely with partner organisations and specialist services to help you get the support you need.

Depending on your personal circumstances and wishes, we can help you by: 

  • Referring you to local specialist domestic abuse support services
  • Advising you on your housing options
  • Supporting you with reporting to the Police and other agencies
  • Advising you on how you can stay as safe as possible in your home
  • Signposting you to your local authority to access temporary accommodation.

It’s important to note that both women and men can be victims of domestic abuse and it isn’t always physical. It can also be controlling or coercive behaviour, ‘honour’ based violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The different kinds of abuse are explained under the tabs below.

If you’d like to be contacted by one of our trained officers, please call us on 0800 111 4013 or email us. Any information you give us will be dealt with sensitively. In an emergency  where you, your family or someone you know is in immediate danger you should call 999.

Domestic abuse – questions and answers

What is domestic abuse and am I experiencing it?

The UK Government define domestic abuse as:

‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.'

What is controlling behaviour?

Controlling behaviour is “a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and /or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.”

Controlling acts may include, but aren’t exclusive to, manipulation, intimidation, sexual coercion and psychological abuse. The behaviour is intended to make a person become submissive, or to isolate them from sources of support, such as their friends and family. It might include monitoring their time, or communication with others, including checking someone’s mobile phone or online communication.

It could also be exploiting their resources, such as their wages or access to money, depriving them of their independence and trying to regulate or control everyday behaviour such as where they can go, who they can see and what to wear.

It may be stopping someone accessing specialist support services, repeatedly putting them down, humiliating or degrading them and making threats to hurt them or their children, or publish private information about them.

Something that may seem like harmless behaviour in isolation can have devastating effects on a victim when they’re subjected to repeated controlling behaviour. We’d encourage people to speak to someone about any behaviour that is concerning them, all reports will be treated sensitively and taken seriously.

What is coercive behaviour?

Coercive behaviour is: “an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.” 

“This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that the victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group”.

Some examples of coercive control are: 

  • Isolating you from your friends and family 
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food or care 
  • Monitoring how you spend your time 
  • Tracking what you do online or on your phone 
  • Controlling aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep 
  • Stopping you from accessing support services, such as medical services or support groups 
  • Repeatedly putting you down, saying you are worthless 
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you.
What is stalking and harassment?

Stalking is a pattern of persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered, scared, anxious or harassed. Some examples of stalking are:

  • Regularly giving unwanted gifts
  • Making unwanted communication
  • Damaging property
  • Repeatedly following you or spying on you
  • Threats.

Taken in isolation, some of the behaviours may seem like small acts, but together they make up a consistent pattern of behaviour that’s frightening and upsetting. It’s important to know that stalking is a criminal offence and if you go to the police, they’ll take it seriously.

What is Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation?

Forced marriage

Unlike an arranged marriage, where the prospective spouses may choose whether or not they wish to accept the partnership, a forced marriage is when one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage, or consent is extracted through duress.

Forced marriages can happen to anyone from any background and nationality and can affect both males and females. It doesn’t only happen to young people; it can happen to adults too. 

From June 2014, forcing someone to marry against their will is a crime and anyone found guilty can face up to seven years in prison.

Honour Based Violence (HBV)?

It is a crime or incident, which has or may have been committed, to protect or defend the honour of the family and/ or community. HBV has the potential to be both a domestic abuse and child abuse concern. In terms of domestic abuse risk assessment, HBV is a significant risk factor for victims and must be regarded as a significant predictor of the likelihood of future harm or homicide.

Female genital mutilation? (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also called ‘female cutting’ or ‘female circumcision, is when a female's genitals are deliberately altered or removed for non-medical reasons.

FGM happens because of various cultural, religious and social reasons. Some communities think that FGM will help the girl in some way, such as preparing her for marriage or childbirth.

FGM can cause severe psychological, emotional and medical problems. It can include extreme pain, shock, infection and many other long term serious medical issues.

Types of FGM

FGM is grouped into four main types:

  • type 1: part or total removal of the clitoris or clitoral hood
  • type 2: part or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minor
  • type 3: narrowing of the vaginal opening 
  • type 4: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes

FGM and the law

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it illegal to:

  • perform FGM in the UK
  • help or arrange for anyone to carry out FGM abroad on girls who are British Nationals or UK residents
  • help a girl to carry out FGM on herself
  • fail to protect a girl under 16 who is known to be at risk of FGM

FGM carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

Support agencies

Forced Marriage

Asian Family Victim Support


0845 3030900

Child Abduction Centre admin line


0116 2556370


0800 1111

Forced Marriage Unit

0207 008 0151

Henna Foundation

029 20496920

Home Office advice


Karma Nirvana

0800 5999 247

Language Line


0207 250 1430



0208 519 2122

Muslim Women’s Helpline


0208 904 8193



0808 800 5000

Shelterline Helpline


0808 800 4444

Southall Black Sisters


0208 571 9595

Honour Based Violence

Asian Family Victim Support


0845 3030900


0800 1111

Domestic Violence Helpline


0808 200 0247

Honour Based Violence Awareness Network 


Metropolitan Police advice page




0208 519 2122

Muslim Women’s Helpline


0208 904 8193



0808 800 5000

Shelterline Helpline


0808 800 4444

Southall Black Sisters


0208 571 9595

FGM support groups/further information

NSPCC FGM Helpline

0800 028 3550

28 too many



0800 1111

Daughters of Eve


Desert Flower


Equality Now


FGM Network


Foundation for Women’s Health

0208 960 4000

Home Office advice

Home Office


The Orchid Project




Domestic abuse service directory

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline

This website has very good information that applies to anyone in any area about what to do in an emergency and how you can prepare if you’re thinking about leaving.


The Women’s Aid site

The Women’s Aid site – has advice on using computers safely and covering your tracks, if necessary. You may want to use a computer in a library or at a friend’s house.

The Survivors Handbook from Women’s Aid

The Survivors Handbook from Women’s Aid – provides practical support and information for women experiencing domestic abuse, with simple guidance on every aspect of seeking support. It covers everything from working out if you think you may be in an abusive relationship to what to do to protect your children.

Bright Sky App

Bright Sky is a free mobile app that provides support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

The app is also available to use in a variety of languages.

For more information, please search for Bright Sky in your device’s app store:

Local services

Local services include:

Find the helplines and support services available in your local council area here

Further contacts and information

Make a Stand

Domestic abuse is one of the biggest issues in society today although the true scale of the problem is unknown because many cases go unreported.

We’ve joined Make a Stand for housing organisations and have pledged to support our customers and members of staff who experience domestic abuse.

To become part of Make a Stand – which was developed by the national Chartered Institute of Housing in partnership with Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance – we’ve pledged to meet four commitments:

  To put in place and embed a policy to support our customers who are experiencing domestic abuse.

  To make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available on our website and in other places which are easily accessible to customers and colleagues.

  To put in place a HR policy and procedure on domestic abuse, or to incorporate this into an existing policy, to support colleagues who are experiencing domestic abuse.

  To appoint a champion in our organisation to own the activity we're doing to support people experiencing domestic abuse.

For more information visit

Updated: 12 January 2024

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