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Break the silence

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Are you afraid of someone you know or live with?

Domestic violence is a crime. Maybe you have experienced it just once or maybe you have lived with the abuse for some time.Or perhaps someone you live near, work with or know is experiencing domestic violence. This page provides some information on the issues that may be of concern to you.Most survivors are women, but men can also suffer domestic abuse.Everyone has the same rights under the law.

What is Domestic Violence?

The UK Government defines domestic violence as including ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour,violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.’

Controlling behaviour means trying to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them for personal gain, depriving them of what they need to be independent, and trying to control their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour means an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This means that domestic violence is not necessarily physical and very often where there is physical violence there will be other forms of abuse. Domestic violence is a whole way of behaving which leaves you living in fear. It could include:

  • Physical abuse - punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling etc.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse - Destructive criticism and verbal abuse, shouting/mocking/accusing/name calling/verbally threatening, pressure tactics such as sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnecting the phone, taking the car away, lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions, disrespecting you by persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework etc.
  • Stalking and harassment - being watched, being followed, being pestered, unwanted phone calls/letters, being threatened, checking up on you, opening your mail, repeatedly checking to see who has phoned you; embarrassing you in public etc.
  • Coercion and control - monitoring or blocking your phone calls, telling you where you can and cannot go, preventing you from seeing friends and relatives, controlling what you wear and/or what you eat, constant calls or texts etc.
  • Sexual abuse - rape, indecent phone calls, forced vaginal or anal penetration, being forced to watch pornography, being spoken to in degrading ways etc.
  • Financial abuse - being kept without money, having to account for expenditure, being forced to pay bills, having to hand over wages, benefits or pension payments, taking money from your purse etc.

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  • Domestic violence is a crime. You have the right to live a life free from violence and fear.
  • You are not alone: Research shows that as many as 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes. An incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute in the UK.
  • You are not to blame: You are not responsible for the violence. Your partner/the perpetrator has choices about the way they behave.
  • You can't change your partner’s behaviour: The only way for the perpetrator to change is for them to realise they have a problem and to seek help.
  • You are in danger if you ignore the violence: Violence rarely happens only once. It is much more usual for the violence to get more serious the longer it goes on.
  • Break the silence – do not remain isolated: Do not keep the violence a secret - you have nothing to be ashamed of. Get help from someone you trust, or you can contact one of organisations that offer specialist information and support.
  • There is life after an abusive relationship: Starting again is not easy but many survivors begin new and rewarding lives. Some discover they enjoy living without a partner and others form new and loving relationships that they never believed were possible when they were with their violent partner.

Break the silence

If you are experiencing domestic violence, don’t suffer in silence.

For information, advice, support or emergency refuge accommodation call:

24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247.

In an emergency always call 999.

There are a number of organisations that can support and help you if you are suffering domestic abuse. To see the full range of support available visit our directory of domestic and sexual violence services.

If you are concerned about a child or think a child may be at risk contact Islington’s Referral and Advice Team, 020 7527 7400, csctreferrals@islington.gov.uk

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Housing law recognises that domestic violence can happen in relationships between partners and between parents and adult children, as well as in other circumstances.

Some of the options available to you are:

If you're a council tenant or leaseholder

If you are council tenant or leaseholder, your Area Housing Office or Leasehold Officer can provide support, advice and information about domestic violence.  We will listen to what you have to say, we will not be judgemental and we will maintain confidentiality unless we are meeting our legal duty. We will only share information about you with other agencies with your permission, or if the information is needed to stop you and your children coming to serious harm.

We can:

  • have a discussion with you to find out what support and advice you would like 
  • arrange for you to meet specialist people who are trained to help you
  • seek advice on your behalf
  • put you in touch with legal experts
  • make recommendations to provide extra security to your home - Home Shelter
  • discuss the housing options and legal remedies that may be available to you

When you contact us you can expect the following to happen:

  • A member of staff will make an appointment to carry out a more detailed interview, if necessary, within 24 hours or 48 hours if a translator/interpreter is required
  • Repairs that occur as a result of domestic violence will be carried out in accordance with our Repairs Policy
  • We will make appropriate referrals to Home Shelter, specialist Floating Support or the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service (IDVAS)
  • To receive further information, normally at the interview, including details of help that is available
  • To be given advice about appropriate action that we can take
  • To be interviewed by a female or male officer as requested

Remaining at home or returning home with protection

  • Legal Protection – You can apply to the courts for two types of injunctions. For more information about these, see the section on Legal Remedies

  • Help from your landlord - If you have a council or housing association property, your landlord may be able to help you stay in your home. Contact your Area Housing Office or your Housing Officer for details.

  • Home Shelter Scheme - The scheme offers you the option of remaining in your home with additional security measures, without which you might otherwise become homeless.

Going to a women’s refuge

Refuges are safe houses providing temporary accommodation to women and children escaping domestic violence. Most refuges have an upper age limit for boys, usually 12 or 14 years of age. The addresses of refuges are kept secret in order to keep the refuge a safe place.

To find out about spaces in refuge call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helplineon 0808 2000 247, or check theSolace Women's Aidwebsite.

Claiming homelessness

Under current law you can approach any Homeless Persons Unit if it is unsafe for you to remain in your home due to domestic violence.The Council is obliged to offer you temporary accommodation while they carry out their assessment or give you a decision on your application on the day. Housing law states that,‘It is not reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to domestic violence or other violence’.Violence means violence or threats of violence from another person, which are likely to be carried out.

Staying temporarily with a friend or relative

Whether this is a suitable option or not will partly depend on:

  • The level of emotional and practical supports the friend or relative can provide. Sometimes family members may put additional pressure on you to stay in the relationship and ‘make it work’.

  • Whether or not your partner/the perpetrator knows these addresses and is likely to follow you, intimidate or attack you or the people you are staying with.

Privately renting or buying accommodation

  • If you decide to rent privately, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit. The Housing AidTeam can provide advice on tenancy agreements and information about places to try.

  • Although you may be in a position to buy, it may not be an immediate option and the process can be time consuming. Temporary living arrangements may need to be made in the interim.

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If you are living with domestic violence it is likely to be impacting all areas of your life, including your work. Your employer should have a policy on supporting staff who are survivors of domestic violence, speak to your line manager to access support. If you are currently looking for employment or in receipt of any employment benefits including Job Seeker's Allowance, there are options to support you to maintain this benefits while you may be unable to actively seek work. For more information on these download the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) domestic violence leaflet below.

Legal remedies

Going to court may seem intimidating but you should remember that you have a right to live without fear of violence.The court can protect your rights.


Part IV of the Family Law Act provides a set of remedies available in the family courts. There are two main injunctions (‘civil court orders’) that can protect you. These are:

  • A Non-molestation Order: This order prohibits the perpetrator from doing certain things such as molesting, pestering, threatening or assaulting you and your children. It can also prevent him from coming within a certain distance of your home. The Family Law Act 1996 says that the purpose of this order is to make sure of the health, safety and wellbeing of the woman and any children

  • An Occupation Order: This order can exclude your partner/the perpetrator from the home, even if there is a joint tenancy in place. This order can also prevent him from coming within a specified area such as 200 yards of your home or a child’s school.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence can help you apply for an injunction. They provide a free fast emergency service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation. The service allows anyone to apply for an injunction within 24 hours of first contact (in most circumstances).

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