Domestic violence and relationship abuse support

Domestic abuse is defined as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour. Most cases of domestic abuse are perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner, but the term also applies to abuse carried out by a family member or carer. At Keele we have a specialist Domestic Violence Liaison Officer team who can support you if you are experiencing any form of domestic abuse or honour-based violence.

Domestic abuse can include:  

  • Coercive control  
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse  
  • Physical or sexual abuse  
  • Financial or economic abuse  
  • Harassment and stalking  
  • Online or digital abuse  

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. It is just as likely to be mental and emotional and can take the form of coercive control. This is controlling behaviour which is designed to isolate the victim and cut them off from friends and family. The perpetrator wants to make their victim lose their independence and become completely reliant on them, so that they don’t have anyone else to turn to. 

At Keele we have a trained team of Domestic Violence Liaison Officers (known as DVLOs). These are members of staff who have received additional training from a specialist domestic abuse organisation to be able to offer additional support to any student who is experiencing domestic abuse.

With your consent, a DVLO can:

  • Complete the DASH (Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour Based Violence) risk assessment with you.
  • Implement university-based support, such as changing classes, moving accommodation and financial support.
  • Advise you reporting options, such as to the police and/or the university if the perpetrator is a Keele student.
  • Referrals into specialist external organisations, such as Glow or New Era.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please dial 999.

If you are with your abuser, you can make a call from your mobile and use the Silent Solution to let the operator know you’re in danger without having to say it out loud – press 55 when the 999 call is answered. The operator will ask a series of yes/no questions but if you cannot speak, you do not need to say anything else – listen to the instructions given to you by the call handler so they can assess your call and send help.

If you are unable to use a voice phone, you can register for the police text service - text REGISTER to 999.  You will get a text which tells you what to do next.  Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger.

A healthy relationship should be one without fear. Healthy relationships bring out the best in you and should make you feel good about yourself. A healthy relationship does not mean a “perfect” relationship, but the signs below are behaviours you should aim for:  

  • Going at a comfortable pace that you both agree to.  
  • Trusting each other.  
  • Being honest about your thoughts and feelings.  
  • Independence and spending time apart.  
  • Respecting each other and accepting boundaries.  
  • Equally putting effort into the relationship.  
  • Being kind and caring towards each other.  
  • Taking responsibility for your actions and admitting when you make a mistake.  
  • Openly discussing disagreements without yelling or belittling. 
  • Having fun together and feeling like you can be yourself. 

Relationship abuse is not always physical - it’s a pattern of controlling, threatening and coercive behaviour, that can also be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual. If you alter your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner will react, you are being abused.

Some common examples of coercive behaviour are: 

  • Isolating you from friends and family 
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food 
  • Monitoring your time and where you go 
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware 
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep 
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services 
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless 
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you 
  • Controlling your finances 
  • Making threats or intimidating you
  • Threaten to ‘out’ your orientation or gender identity

Domestic violence and abuse is not always perpetrated by a partner; an abuser may be a parent, sibling, teenage son/daughter, usually living in the same household. Men can be victims of domestic violence and abuse, and women can be perpetrators, but the majority of perpetrators are men and the majority of victim survivors are women.

Victim Support can help you to recognise the signs you may be being abused:

  • They make threats and do things that make me feel frightened.
  • They put me down just to make me feel bad when we’re alone or around friends.
  • They make me do things that I don’t want to do without listening to me.
  • They make me feel guilty if I don’t spend time with them.
  • They don’t try to get on with my friends or family.
  • They hit, slap or push me.
  • They look through my phone, social media or web history.
  • They want to know where I am all the time.
  • They cheat on me or accuse me of cheating on them.
  • They steal from me or make me buy them things.
  • They make me have sex when I don’t want to.

To find out more about recognising the signs of abuse, visit the Refuge website or NHS.

If you’re a student at home, or on campus, and you’re experiencing abuse or violence in your household, you can contact Student Services for support and advice. Let us know the safest way to get in touch with you, and one of our DVLOs will be in touch with you.

The websites listed in this section provide practical advice on their pages, as well as emotional support and guidance via the telephone and online chat functions.

There are a number of national helplines available, highlighted below. However, it might be difficult for you speak to someone if your abuser is in the same household; online chat offers a silent way of accessing support, and tech support is available if you’re worried your online activity is being monitored.

Domestic Abuse Helplines

New Era (Staffordshire including Newcastle under Lyme): 0300 303 3778

England0808 2000 247

Northern Ireland: 0808 802 1414

Scotland: 0800 027 1234

Wales: 0808 8010 800

Domestic Abuse Support Services

Women's Aid live chat service (available Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm)

Men's Advice Line: 0808 801 0327

Respect helpline: 0808 802 4040 (for anyone worried that they may be harming someone else)

Dyn Wales/Dyn Cymru: 0808 801 0321 (for men in Wales experiencing domestic abuse)    

Galop: 0800 999 5428 (national helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people experiencing domestic abuse)

Karma Nirvana: 0800 5999 247 (for victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage)

Forced Marriage Unit: 0207 008 0151

Paladin - National Stalking Advocacy Service: 020 3866 4107

Citizens Advice National Helpline: 03444 111 444. Check your local office website for the most up to date information on contact details. 

ChaynProvides support and information in multi-lingual formats.

The websites below above provide a lot of information if you want to learn more about your options and get practical advice aimed at keeping you safe in your home. Below are some direct links.

If you are concerned about someone you know, call the Refuge 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. They can offer you confidential advice on how best to help the person you are worried about. If you are worried about their safety, call 999.

Do not approach the perpetrator, as this could escalate the abuse and put you and the victim at risk of harm.

Chayn have also provided detailed guidance in their Good Friend Guide.

In the first instance, it is important to listen to the individual who has shared their experience of abuse with you. When someone reaches out, it can be really frightening for them, or may have taken time due to fear of not being believed. It is important not to disbelieve or dismiss what your loved one is saying to you and to give them space to share. 

Let your friend or family member know that there is support available to them. If they are a Keele student, direct them to Student Services who are always here to support. They may decide that it is not the right time to get support or leave the relationship, this is okay. Do not judge or force them to make a decision that may not be safe, they need to be able to have autonomy to make decisions and have control over their own situation.  

Whilst we understand that you want to help, it is important to never put yourself in direct danger. If you have reason to believe that someone is in immediate danger, then you can call the police on 999. 

It can be difficult to support a friend, family member, classmate or flatmate who is experiencing abuse. We appreciate that this can take its toll on your own well-being and mental health and you may feel like talking to someone to help share the load. Your Student Experience and Support Officer is here to support you with anything which may be impacting you. 

For more information on how to support others, including using supportive language and useful external services, there is helpful guidance available from Women's Aid.

You may also wish to direct any questions you have to our Domestic Violence Liaison Officer team on Whilst we cannot not discuss individual cases, the team would be more than willing to offer further guidance and advice.

In April 2023, the government introduced Emergency Alerts on mobile phone and tablet devices to warn the public of any life-threatening emergencies nearby via an alarm system. If the device is turned on, the alarm will sound. The alarm will also sound even if it is not connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi. It is possible to opt-out of this service.

If you have a ‘safe phone’ and are experiencing domestic abuse, it is important to manage these Emergency Alerts. Refuge have published a video guide to help you stay safe.

If a student discloses to you that they are a victim of domestic abuse, it's important to treat this information seriously and refer the student for additional support. You should contact Student Services who will triage the case into the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer team.

If the disclosure includes details of a child or vulnerable adult at risk, you should also follow the University's safeguarding procedure.