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Do you know someone being abused?

Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Helpline – 08000 198 668
Sheffield Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 808 2241
National Domestic Abuse Helpline (24 hour) – 0844 804 4999
In an emergency, dial 999

Domestic abuse happens every day. People may be aware of it, but don’t know what to do about it. If you are concerned that someone you know may be suffering domestic abuse, we can provide you with advice on what to do.

What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over, who are or who have been intimate partners or family members.

How will I recognise domestic abuse?
There are many signs that someone may be suffering domestic abuse, and some examples of things to look out for are listed below. You should listen to what your friend, family member or colleague tells you, how frightened they are, and what they think the alleged abuser may do. You should also be aware that domestic abuse victims can underplay the risk to themselves and others.

  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • The person becoming withdrawn
  • Lowered self esteem
  • Personality changes
  • Physical signs and injuries, such as bruising
  • Defensiveness about injuries
  • Reasons for injuries not adding up
  • Change in clothing, or using makeup to hide marks and bruises
  • Absence from work or social events
  • Increased drinking and binge drinking
  • Drug taking
  • Eating disorders
  • Person becomes unable to pay bills, or pay for treats and activities
  • Someone might ask to borrow money
  • There might not be much food in the house or they or their children may be hungry
  • Not attending appointments
  • No longer attending something that they usually do
  • Making excuses not to come to something
  • Person might not be allowed to leave the home, isolating them from family and friends
  • Becoming anxious about leaving the house or going to certain places

What are the signs of high risk domestic abuse?
High risk domestic abuse means that someone is potentially at serious risk of serious harm or homicide. Serious harm is a risk that is life threatening and/or traumatic and from which recovery, whether physical or psychological, can be expected to be difficult or impossible.
Some of the warning signs of high risk domestic abuse are:

  • Threats to kill
  • Use of weapons (including household objects)
  • Strangulation or smothering
  • Sexual assault, rape or threat of sexual exploitation
  • High level of stalking and harassment
  • High level of controlling behaviour
  • The abuser having suicidal intent or serious mental health issues
  • Threat of forced marriage or so called ‘honour’ based violence
  • A criminal history, or history of domestic abuse in this relationship or a previous one
  • Pregnancy or having a very young child can increase vulnerability

If you think that your friend, family member or colleague is suffering high risk domestic abuse and is at risk of serious harm or homicide then you should contact the helpline as soon as possible to seek advice on what to do next. If you are concerned about the safety of a child or the welfare of an adult that needs care and support then please make a safeguarding referral.

What can I do?
If you are concerned that a family member, friend or colleague is suffering domestic abuse, you can:

  • Break the isolation, tell them that you are worried and ask if they want to talk to you about it
  • Support their decision; it is not always easy to leave
  • Find out about their rights and the services available to them. You can call the local domestic abuse helpline to find this information out.
  • Try to focus on their safety rather than the abuser’s behaviour
  • Agree a code word of action that they can use to tell you that they are in danger
  • Praise them for the steps that they take
  • Stay in contact with them and don’t give up on them.
  • If you are concerned that the individual is suffering high risk domestic abuse, contact the local domestic abuse helpline as soon as possible, or in an emergency dial 999.