At least 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and between 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 women experience it annually. Less than half of all incidents are reported to the police, but they still receive two domestic abuse calls every minute in the UK.
The majority of the people experiencing domestic abuse are women and children, and women are also considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of violence, and sexual abuse. Women may experience domestic abuse regardless of ethnicity, religion, beliefs, class, age, sexuality, disability or lifestyle.
Women who experience domestic abuse are often asked "why don't you leave?". There are a variety of complex reasons why women do not want to leave abusive relationships including being in love with their abusive partner. It is often hard enough to leave any relationship let alone when there is abuse added to the equation.
Disabled women are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Research has shown that disabled women experience abuse at least twice as often as able bodied women. Abusers - including personal assistants and carers - may exploit a woman's particular condition or impairment. There are also additional barriers that a disabled woman must overcome when she seeks help.
Domestic abuse affects women from all ethnic groups, and there is no evidence to suggest that women from some ethnic or cultural communities are any more at risk than others. However, the form the abuse takes may vary; in some communities, for example, domestic violence may be perpetrated by extended family members, or it may include forced marriage or female genital mutilation.
Women from black or minority ethnic communities may also be more isolated, or may have to overcome religious and cultural pressures, and they may be afraid of bringing shame onto their 'family honour'.
Victims of domestic violence who are from abroad and have no recourse to public funds will usually have been granted limited leave to enter the United Kingdom as a spouse or a fiancé of a person present and settled in the UK. Under the Immigration rules such people may apply for indefinite leave to remain, as long as they can provide evidence that the relationship broke down as a result of domestic violence before the end of their limited leave.
However, whilst this application is pending, people in this situation have no recourse to public funds, which means no access to benefits or housing. They are able to work but in reality this is very difficult to sustain when fleeing a domestic abusive relationship.
There are support services and agencies that can help any women in any situation - even those with no recourse to public funding
The National Centre for Domestic Violence
The National Centre for Domestic Violence provides a free service to everybody, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or immigration status.
Tel: 0844 8044 999
Women's Aid is a national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. They support a network of over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the UK.
Tel: 0808 2000 247
Rights of Women
Rights of Women works to attain justice and equality by informing, educating and empowering women on their legal rights.
Tel: 020 7251 6577
Helpline for Asian women experiencing domestic violence. Languages spoken include: Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujerati, Tamil and Urdu.
Tel: 08454 512 547 - every day 24 hours
Karma Nirvana’s staff and most of its 18 volunteers are survivors of forced marriage and 'honour'-based violence.
Tel: 0800 5999 247
Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation
Support for Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic and Turkish speaking women, girls and couples.
Tel: 0207 920 6490
Kiran Support Services
Kiran Support Services provides safe, temporary accommodation for Asian women and their children escaping domestic violence. Also provides advice, outreach work and resettlement support.
Tel: 020 8558 1986
Domestic Abuse victims without Indefinite Leave To Remain
Victims with no recourse to public funds, who entered the UK on a spousal or partner visa and are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under the Domestic Violence Rule. More information here.
Southall Black Sisters
Offering specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy, counselling and self-help support services for Asian and African-Caribbean wome in several community languages.
Tel: 0208 571 0800
Jewish Women's Aid
Offering specialist advice, information and support for women from the Jewish community.
0808 801 0500
This website provides advice, information and essential contacts to help people out of a forced marriage.
www.forcedmarriage.net/ [site not available when last checked, March 2016]
Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC)
OSARCC is an Oxfordshire charity providing a confidential and non-judgmental listening service for women and girls who have experienced sexual abuse, assault, or rape at any time during their lives.
Tel: 01865 726295
Protection Against Stalking and Harassment
Provides information, support and advice to victims of stalking and harassment.
Tel: 0300 636 0300
Victim Support is the independent charity which helps people cope with the effects of crime. We provide free and confidential support and information to help you deal with your experience.
Tel: 0845 450 3883
C.E.D.A.R: Catholics Experiencing Domestic Abuse Resources
Resources to help parishes, deaneries, dioceses, school and organisations in the Catholic Church raise awareness of issues surrounding domestic abuse
Working together to end female genital cutting
FORWARD (Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development) is an African Diaspora women led UK-registered campaign and support charity dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African girls and women. They work in UK, Europe and Africa to help change practices and policies that affect access, dignity and wellbeing.
- Practice Guidance for people with no recourse to public funds (external link)
- Violence Against Women: An EU Wide Survey
- Destitution and violence against women: briefing paper (pdf format, 111Kb)
- Adult Safety Planning handout (pdf format, 28.5 Kb)
- Hostages to Love - Stockholm Syndrome (doc format, 35Kb)
- Power and control wheel (pdf format, 1.6Mb)
- Domestic Abuse and Older women (pdf format, 64 Kb)
- The Survivor's Handbook: full version in English (pdf format, 1.5Mb) (also available in other languages)
- Abuse checklist (pdf format, 24Kb)
- Home Office Guide: three steps to escaping violence against women and girls (pdf format) Also available in other languages