Domestic abuse support

Domestic abuse is when someone uses power and control over you. You may be subjected to violence, threats or emotional pressure. All of these are types of abusive behaviour.

You are not responsible if domestic abuse is happening to you. It is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it.

If domestic abuse is happening to you, it's important to tell someone so you can get help. You are not alone.

Domestic abuse is a crime and can be reported to the police. In an emergency, always call 999. Or visit the Kent Police website to see on how to report domestic abuse.

If you don’t have a friend or family member to talk to, contact a professional using The Kent & Medway domestic abuse services website. Practitioners can also find advice on this site.

Get help for domestic abuse now

Who uses abusive behaviour

Domestic abuse is carried out by someone who is personally connected to the person being abused. Examples include a partner or ex-partner (including young people aged 16 or over), or a family member.

Services are available for people using abusive behaviours to address the root cause and make positive changes using the Domestic Abuse Referral Pathway for Kent and Medway.

How domestic abuse makes victims feel

People who experience domestic abuse often feel powerless and afraid. Victims can feel depressed, anxious and lacking in confidence about themselves.

They can also suffer from physical injuries, like bruises and broken bones.

A child is always affected by domestic abuse. Children who see or hear domestic abuse are recognised as victims in their own right. Experiencing the patterns of control and abuse is confusing and frightening for them.  Feeling scared of parents’ reactions or worrying about a parent’s safety can lead children to feel responsible, anxious, unable to concentrate at school and impact their lives in many ways that we need to look out for.

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of a child experiencing domestic abuse, refer to your agency’s safeguarding procedures for children’s services as outlined in the Domestic Abuse Referral Pathway.

Types of domestic abuse

It is not always easy to recognise that you are being abused, especially if you are not experiencing physical violence. Below are some ways in which someone may be abused.

Physical or sexual abuse

This is when someone is hurt or threatened to be harmed on purpose. Examples include:

  • punching, slapping or hitting
  • strangling or choking you
  • pulling your hair
  • having sex without your consent
  • using force, threats or intimidation.

Psychological or emotional abuse

This is when someone uses words and non-physical actions to frighten someone else.  
Examples include:

  • shouting at you
  • calling you names
  • talking unkindly to you.

Another example is when someone claims that you are remembering something wrongly, or tricks you into believing their version of events is true. This is called gaslighting.

Coercive control

This behaviour is designed to make a person dependent on their abuser. Examples include:

  • cutting you off from your friends and family
  • closely watching how you spend your time
  • telling you where you can go, when you can sleep and what you can wear
  • putting you down and telling you that you are worthless.

Financial abuse

This behaviour is part of coercive control linked to finances. Examples include:

  • control of money and household finances
  • taking out debts in your name
  • stopping you from working or having your own money
  • making you work but not allowing you to spend your earnings.

Digital domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can also happen online or using technology as a tool. Examples include:

  • having access to your social media profiles
  • having access to your online banking
  • not allowing you use to your phone or browse the internet
  • using cameras around the home to watch or listen to you
  • using GPS locators or trackers to monitor your location.

Get more information on the Kent Police website about digital domestic abuse.

Honour-based abuse

Honour based abuse is when a person is abused to defend the honour of a family or community. For some people and cultures, there can be times when a person’s actions may bring perceived shame or disgrace. Perceived shameful actions might include being in a relationship with someone outside your community, or having sex before marriage.

Other examples of honour-based abuse include:

  • forced marriage
  • forced abortion
  • pressure to move to another country
  • not being allowed any personal freedom.

For help and advice about for forced marriage and honour crimes, call the Karma Nirvana helpline on 0800 5999 247 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Get more information by visiting the Karma Nirvana website.

To speak to the government’s Forced Marriage Unit call: 020 7008 0151 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, or 020 7008 5000 out of hours. Visit the GOV.UK website for more about the Forced Marriage Unit.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

FGM is the cutting or removal of a female’s external genitalia (the labia and clitoris) for non-medical reasons. In the UK, it is a crime to perform FGM, or to take a women or girl abroad to have FGM.

Visit the NHS website for more information about female genital mutilation, and for National FGM Support Clinics.

Parental conflict

Harmful parental conflict is different from abuse. This is when disagreements between parents or caregivers affect children’s wellbeing. These might include arguments, unresolved disputes and poor communication, but it is not inherently abusive.

Domestic abuse goes beyond disagreements and involves controlling behaviour.  Domestic abuse can include physical harm, sexual coercion and emotional manipulation, which directly harms children and creates an unsafe environment.

It is important to understand the difference and get the right support. Find out more about reducing arguments and conflict between parents.

Worried about your partner's history

You may be worried that a new, former or existing partner has a history of abusing others. It may be possible to find out about their past without letting them know.

Apply for information about their relationship history from Kent Police, under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as ‘Clare’s Law’).

Visit the Kent Police website to make a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) application.

Get help for domestic abuse

If domestic abuse is happening to you, it is important to tell someone. Your abuser may tell you that there is no hope for you. That is not true. You are not alone and there are lots of ways you can get help.

You do not have to wait for an emergency situation to find help. However, in an emergency call 999.

You could talk to a staff member at your local Family Hub. You can also contact a health visitor directly by phone, text or email.

Find details of local support for domestic violence in Kent and Medway on the Domestic Abuse Services website.

Visit the Kent Police website for help and advice regarding domestic abuse.

Women experiencing domestic abuse can call the charity Refuge on 0808 2000 247 for free at any time, day or night. Visit the Refuge website for more about the National Domestic Abuse Helpline.

Men experiencing domestic abuse can call the charity Respect on 0808 8010 327 from Monday to Friday 10am to 8pm. Visit the Respect website for more about the Men's Advice Line.  This also offers a webchat service on Wednesday from 10am to 11:30am and 2:30pm to 4pm.

If you are part of an LGBT+ community and are experiencing domestic abuse, visit the Galop website for the National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline.