Women and domestic violence

Domestic violence affects many young women across the country, regardless of age, class, race, sexuality or lifestyle. If you're in a situation you need to get out of, help is available.

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T/W This article includes references to domestic violence

Domestic violence is probably something you’ve heard about. But it’s hard sometimes to work out if your own relationship is abusive.

It can be experienced in many different ways, including physical, sexual or psychological behaviour, as well as controlling your finances. If this sounds familiar, first thing to remember is that it’s not your fault. No one has the right to abuse you, so here’s what you can do to make it stop.

If you’re still with your abuser

If you’re still living with your abuser, Refuge gives the following advice:

  • Be ready to call 999 if you or your children are in danger
  • Makes notes of abusive incidents, including times, dates, and details of injuries. These can be important if you need legal and welfare rights
  • Keep some money and a set of keys in a safe place
  • Find out about your legal and housing rights, e.g. talk to a solicitor
  • Keep copies of important papers (passports, birth certificates, court orders, marriage certificate) in a safe place
  • Carry a list of emergency numbers, such as the police, relatives and friends you can turn to
  • Tell someone you trust about the abuse
  • Make calls from a phone box or a friend’s house
  • Report any injuries to your GP (doctor) so there’s a record of the abuse
  • Talk to family and friends about staying with them in an emergency
  • Think about escape routes

How to leave an abusive partner

If you think you’re ready to leave, it’s worth planning it carefully. Leaving can be dangerous as your partner may feel they’re losing control of you. Call the Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 to talk through your options.

Finding somewhere safe to stay will be the first priority. You may want to stay with your mates or family initially, but it could be easy for your abuser to work out where you are and your friends might only be able to accommodate you for a short time. They may even encourage you to go back if they don’t know the full story. Staying in a refuge, or emergency accommodation may be the safer option.

What to take with you if you leave

If it’s safe to, try and take the following with you:

  • ID and important papers e.g. passport, bank account details
  • Money – click here for more advice on affording to leave an abusive partner
  • All important phone numbers
  • Set of spare house and car keys
  • Medicine and toiletries
  • A couple of day’s worth of clothes
  • Proof of the abuse e.g. notes, photos
  • If there is a residency or parental order in place, talk to a solicitor before leaving or ASAP after you’ve left. Leave a note saying you have left with the children, they are safe, and that the solicitor will contact the non-resident parent in the future. Keep a copy of this note

Leaving your home doesn’t affect your right to return, your tenancy rights or ownership of the home. Whether you rent or own your home, you have the same rights.

The police are the first port of call for women in an emergency. Their role is to protect everybody from harm and to investigate. You can ask to speak with a female officer and an interpreter.

You may decide that it’s safe to return to your home if you get an injunction. There are two types:

  • Non-molestation Order
    This is aimed at preventing your partner or ex-partner from using threatening violence against you or your children
  • Occupation Order
    An Occupation order regulates who can live in the family home and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area

Is it my fault?

No – only the abuser is responsible for their behaviour. Placing the blame on somebody else is something that abusers often do to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

The blame game is a common one as victim, Catherine, remembers. “When you’ve been hit you think, ‘my God, this is cold-blooded, controlling, calculating stuff’. You think to yourself, ‘how can I be in this situation?’ But you want to make it work,” she says. “You love this person and you think it must be your fault, and he tells you it is. He’s attractive and successful, people think he’s wonderful and he’s earning lots of money. You believe the problem lies with you.”

Abusers who use alcohol or drugs may say, “I was drunk”, or “I don’t remember”, but this should not be a reason to let someone get away with hurting you.

Use our relationship tool to understand your relationship dynamic, and what you can do if it’s not as healthy as it should be.

Next Steps

  • Women's aid protects women from domestic violence. Call their 24-hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.
  • Refuge offers advice and support to victims of domestic violence. 0808 2000 247
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 23-Mar-2021

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.