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Crime and victims

Domestic violence

Whether it occurs in public or in private, violence is unacceptable and we are determined to do all we can to prevent it.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is any threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship, or between family members. It can affect anybody, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

The violence can be psychological, physical, sexual or emotional. It can include 'honour-based violence', female genital mutilation, and forced marriage.

Do you need help?

If you're in a violent or abusive relationship, or if you're supporting somebody in that situation, help is available.

Download our leaflet on domestic violence, which contains information that could help.

You can also find more information on the Direct.gov website, (new window) and on websites of support groups such as Refuge (new window) and Women's Aid (new window).

At the bottom of this web page there's a list of helplines that can offer help.

Note: If you suspect your partner is monitoring your internet usage you can hide your internet history. (new window)

Whatever form it takes, domestic violence is rarely a one-off incident. Usually it's a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which an abuser seeks power over their family member or partner.

Domestic violence occurs across all of society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth or geography. Usually it takes the form of violence against women by men, but children are also affected - they can be traumatised by what they've seen, and there is a strong connection between domestic violence and child abuse. 


If you are a victim of domestic violence, did you know that banks can help?

They can:

  • discuss personal and sensitive financial matters in private
  • accept forms identification that you might have, including a letter from a Refuge manager, if you want to open a new account
  • update your personal details when provided with proof of a new address or name
  • send important documents (such as bank statements) to an alternative address 

What we're doing about domestic violence

Domestic Violence: A national report (new window) sets out our progress so far in tackling the crime.   It also details the national action plan proposals to further improve support for victims and bring more perpetrators to justice.

Key points:

  • the government has been targeting forced marriages, and its dedicated forced marriages team (new window) handles thousands of requests for help and information every year; its Survivors Handbook (new window) provides information for people who have been forced into unwanted marriages, or think they might be in future
  • the number of specialist domestic violence courts has expanded; there are now 98 of them across the country - studies show they're more effective than the normal court system in dealing with the issue of domestic violence
  • the Crown Prosecution Service (new window) in 2008 exceeded its target of successfully prosecuting 70% of domestic violence cases, and it has retrained all prosecutors and caseworkers

Supporting victims and dealing with their abusers

We are committed to increasing the number of independent domestic violence advisers and independent sexual violence advisers across the country, so that all victims of domestic violence get the right help and advice.

These advisors work closely with specialist domestic violence courts, and specialise in prosecuting cases of domestic violence.

Training and education is also being offered to abusers and potential abusers after arrest. Domestic violence programmes are underway in the probation service (new window) in all 42 probation areas in England and Wales.

In addition, seven prisons now have a 'healthy relationships programme', and plans are in place to expand that programme further.


English National Domestic Violence: 0808 2000 247

Northern Ireland Women's Aid: 0800 917 1414

Scottish Domestic Abuse: 0800 027 1234

Wales Domestic Abuse: 0808 80 10 800

Male Advice & Enquiry: 0808 801 0327

Dyn Wales/Dyn Cymru: 0808 801 0321

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