Domestic violence and relationship abuse support
We know that this is a difficult and worrying time for everyone due to Covid-19, but this period may be particularly difficult for adults and children living with abuse. It has been reported that there has been a significant increase in domestic violence and relationship abuse in the UK and around the world. If you are in a household where there is violence or abuse, there is help and support available to you; find out more about this below.
You are not alone. You do not have to stay with an abusive partner or in an abusive situation because of Covid-19.
Don’t forget to delete your browsing history if you are concerned someone is tracking your internet history.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please dial 999. If you are with your abuser, call from a mobile and you can 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. Please note, the 55 Silent Solution does not work on landlines.
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.
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. The charity Refuge states – “If you alter your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner will react, you are being abused.”
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. Only a minority of men are abusers, but they may abuse multiple partners during their lifetime.
To find out more about recognising the signs of abuse, visit the Refuge website.
The NHS also has information to help you recognise if you are being abused.
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.
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.
Refuge provides safety tips for victim survivors living with abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.
Staffordshire including Newcastle under Lyme: New Era 24 hour helpline and online chat available: 0300 303 3778
0808 2000 247 (run by Refuge)
Northern Ireland: 0808 802 1414
Scotland: 0800 027 1234
Wales: 0808 8010 800
International student? Try Chayn
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. You can also contact your local office by phone, email and some provide a web service. Check your local office website for the most up to date information on contact details.
The websites in the accordion 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.
- Chayn – toolkits and how-to guides, some in multiple languages
- Making a safety plan, Women’s Aid
- The Survivor’s Handbook, Women’s Aid
- Guidance on economic abuse during COVID-19, Surviving Economic Abuse
- SafeLives guide to staying safe online
- Women’s Aid guide to private browsing
- Guide to technology safety
If you are concerned about someone you know, call the Freephone 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to use their contact form for a call back. They can offer you confidential support 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.
SafeLives provides guidance on supporting someone experiencing domestic violence and relationship abuse during Covid-19.
There is information about Covid-19 and supporting those who may be subject to domestic abuse on the Government’s website.