Topic outline

  • 1. Introduction

    The terms ‘domestic violence’ and ‘domestic abuse’ are often used interchangeably, but ‘domestic abuse’ is now more commonly used as it is felt to be a more inclusive way to describe a range of behaviours, which include violence as well as all other forms of abuse.

    According to the Home Office (March 2013), domestic abuse is defined as:

    "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".

    The Home Office definition goes on to state that it can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

    • Psychological (including threats and intimidation; the use of jealousy as a control; humiliation; constant criticism, etc);
    • Physical (biting, kicking, punching, etc);
    • Sexual (including rape);
    • Financial;
    • Emotional.

    Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

    Coercive behaviour is: 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 definition includes so called ‘honour based’ violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) (click here for the FGM multi-agency procedure) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

    The Home Office definition is non-statutory but recognises that past legal and cultural understanding of domestic abuse has been too narrowly focused on single physically violent incidents rather than complex and controlling patterns of behaviour. As a result of this, following national consultation, the law changed and coercive and controlling behaviour became a criminal offence (Serious Crime Act 2015).

    Many forms of domestic abuse are crimes including: coercive and controlling behaviour; assault; false imprisonment; criminal damage; theft; fraud; harassment; murder and attempted murder; rape; forced marriage; causing or allowing a child or vulnerable adult to die or to suffer serious physical harm; and ill treatment and/or wilful neglect of a mentally incapacitated adult.

    See also Definitions, Categories and Indicators of Abuse, Domestic Violence.  Further information about the new Government definition of domestic violence and abuse can be found at the GOV.UK website.  See also the following for more information: GOV.UK website: Guidance - Domestic Violence & Abuse

    The Prevalence of Domestic Abuse

    Women were more likely than men to have experienced intimate violence across all headline types of abuse asked about in the interpersonal violence section of the Crime Survey for England & Wales (CSEW March 2015) and covers those aged 16 - 59 years old.  It estimates that 8.2% of women and 4.0% of men reported experiencing any type of domestic abuse in the last year (that is, partner/ex-partner abuse (non-sexual), family abuse (non-sexual) and sexual assault or stalking carried out by a current or former partner or other family member).  This is equivalent to an estimated 1.3 million female victims and 600,000 male victims.  There were 6.5% of women and 2.8% of men who reported having experienced any type of partner abuse in the last year, equivalent to an estimated 1.1 million female victims and 500,000 male victims.  Overall, 27.1% of women and 13.2% of men had experienced any domestic abuse since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 4.5 million female victims and 2.2 million male victims.  Statistics and information about Domestic Violence can be accessed at the GOV.UK website and Crime Survey.

    Whatever form it takes, domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident. It is more commonly a pattern of controlling or abusive behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victim. It occurs across all sectors of society, regardless of age, class, ethnicity, race, culture, sexuality or geography but figures show however, that it consists mostly of violence by men against women. Although men can be abused too, the statistics show that in most cases it is women who are abused and who experience more frequent and more severe abuse than men.  Domestic abuse against men are typically characterised by one-off incidents (Crime Survey for England & Wales).

    It is therefore important to acknowledge that domestic abuse is very much a gendered crime that is underpinned by power and control.  1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives and 1 in 10 women will experience domestic abuse at least once in the last year (Home Office 2010).  On average, two women are killed every week by their current or ex-partner (Home Office Statistics).  Around 45% of all female homicides each year are domestic homicides compared to 5 - 8 % for male homicides. 

    It continues to be heavily under-reported.  There were 6,382 incidents reported to the Police in Sunderland in 2016-17 and based on levels of under-reporting we estimate that this would be closer to 11,600 - 15,600 victims in the last year (source: Sunderland Domestic Violence Health Needs Assessment 2013-14).  Nationally, an HMIC Inspection (Everyone's Business 2014) found that a domestic abuse call was made to the police every 30 seconds requesting assistance.

    It's rarely a one-off and a common statistic used is that it takes on average 35 assaults before a victim comes forward to report to the police. 

    Domestic abuse impacts negatively on children such as their emotional and physical safety and wellbeing, their behaviour and attendance at school, feelings of blame, social adjustment, etc.

    Domestic abuse is high-cost.  The Sunderland Domestic Violence Health Needs Assessment (2013-14) found it costs almost £80M per year in Sunderland, which is comparable to other public health priorities such as smoking and obesity.    

    Domestic Abuse and Complex Needs

    Many domestic and sexual abuse victims have a myriad of complex needs which can include:

    • mental ill-health
    • drug and alcohol dependency
    • learning disabilities
    • physical disabilities
    • women with symptoms of trauma
    • victims of forced marriage, honour-based violence or female genital mutilation
    • domestic slavery or trafficking
    • women whose children are in care
    • childhood experiences of sexual violence, or neglect and care
    • sexual exploitation

    Those with complex needs generally have longer term support needs and some may not necessarily be high risk, but have high levels of complexity and a high demand on public services.  Multiple complexities often create multiple sites of disadvantage.  Multiple markers of difference, such as age and ethnicity intersect to inform lived experiences which mean that some women's experience of abuse is not only gendered, but can also be connected to factors such as ethnicity, age, class, disability, sexuality or complex needs.

    Domestic Abuse Legislation

    The Government announced the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill 2017 to transform the approach to tackling this devastating crime.  The key elements of the bill will be to create a clear definition of the crime in law, consolidate prevention and protection measures, ensure sentences reflect the harm that domestic abuse has upon children, and establish a new commissioner who will represent victims and survivors and drive forward progress.   

    The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 gives Police and other agencies the tools to get to the heart of domestic violence crimes. It aims to increase the protection, support and rights of victims of domestic violence and their witnesses.

    This Act gives Police and courts powers to deal with domestic violence, including:

    • Common assault is an arrestable offence;
    • Courts can impose restraining orders when sentencing;
    • The law applies to couples who have never married or lived together.

    Section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004: causing or allowing the death of an Adult at Risk (or child) in a household - states that it is an offence to cause the death, and also to have stood by and not taken reasonable steps to safeguard the victim.

    It is important that social care and health care professionals identify those cases where alleged abuse impacts upon wider family members, in particular children, so that they can also be recognised as potential victims of domestic abuse.

    For issues of domestic abuse which fit with these Safeguarding Adults Procedures, a representative from the local domestic abuse services provider must be invited to attend any Safeguarding meetings.

    There may be occasions where the local domestic abuse services provider has uncovered the domestic violence that has overlapped into these Safeguarding Adults Procedures. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the domestic abuse services provider to complete and forward the SAC referral form and contribute to the Safeguarding Strategy Discussion / Meeting, as appropriate, (see Part 3, Managing Individual Cases - Procedures Relating to All Cases). It is essential for the efficacy of these Procedures that representatives from agencies requested to participate in any Safeguarding meetings, respond appropriately and take an active role, as they would with any other Safeguarding meeting.

    The involvement of the victim is of paramount importance and when possible, victims should be encouraged to participate and be present at meetings. This is of particular resonance in domestic violence cases as it is crucial that the alleged victim is aware of the support available to them and that their input, views, evidence and perspectives are valued. However, the appropriate risk assessments must be done in cases of domestic violence (see SafeLivesDASH-RIC) to ensure that the victim is not put at additional risk due to the Safeguarding Adults process, or due to their participation in it. Each case will need to be individually considered and agencies will need to work together to ensure these risks are mitigated.

    Many domestic abuse/violence cases coming under the Safeguarding Adults Procedures will have Police involvement and as such, appropriate information sharing and communication with the Police is imperative to the safeguarding process. There may be cases where the alleged perpetrator is also under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) (see Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure) or Potentially Dangerous Persons (see Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure, Potentially Dangerous Persons) systems and again, liaison with the Police will be crucial to ensure the smooth and effective co-ordination of both processes.

    • 2. Adult Safeguarding and Domestic Abuse

      A considerable proportion of safeguarding adults work relates to the abuse or neglect of people with care and support needs who are living in their own homes. Domestic abuse is perhaps most commonly thought of as violence between intimate partners, but it can take many other forms and be perpetrated by a range of people. Much safeguarding therefore relates to domestic abuse.

      The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has produced a second edition (2015) of its guidance document called "Adult Safeguarding and Domestic Abuse: A Guide to Support Practitioners and Managers".  This guide is for practitioners and managers in councils and partner agencies engaged in working directly or indirectly with people who have care and support needs, whose circumstances make them vulnerable, and who may also be victims of domestic abuse. Its purpose is to help staff to give better informed and more effective support to people who need an adult safeguarding service because of domestic abuse.  It addresses situations where an adult who has care and support needs is being harmed or abused by an intimate partner or close family member in a way which could also be defined as domestic abuse.

      This guide sets out the overlaps between safeguarding and domestic abuse and the approaches and legal frameworks for domestic abuse that can be used in the safeguarding context.  It covers the following issues:

      1. Introduction and quick reference guide:
        • Making the connections between adult safeguarding and domestic abuse.
      2. What is domestic abuse? Who needs safeguarding? And how do they link together?
        • What research tells us including gender and domestic abuse; domestic abuse in LGBT relationships; and age, disability, mental health and domestic abuse.
      3. Understanding the impact of domestic abuse (including the additional impacts of domestic abuse on people with care and support needs);
      4. Barriers and challenges to ending abusive relationships;
      5. Working with people needing care and support who are experiencing domestic abuse (including legal obligations).
        • Specific types of abuse (e.g. forced marriage);
        • Working with specific groups (e.g.older people; people with mental ill-health; people who misuse substances; people with learning disabilities; carers).
      6. Mental capacity, adult safeguarding and domestic abuse (including an unwise decision or a decision taken under duress);
      7. Safe enquiries (including best practice);
      8. Assessing and managing the risks of domestic abuse in safeguarding circumstances (including involving the person at risk, risk assessment tools, MARAC);
      9. Domestic abuse support services and legal action (including criminal law, civil law, accommodation and support packages);
      10. Working with perpetrators of domestic abuse:
        • Perpetrators with care and support needs.
      11. What councils and organisations can do to support good practice;
      12. References and useful resources.

      The guide is essential reading for those working with anyone with care and support needs, or who are experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse.  It aims to improve recognition and understanding of the circumstances in which adult safeguarding and domestic abuse overlap and should be considered in tandem. It will contribute to the knowledge and confidence of professionals so that the complexities of working with people who need care and support, and who are also experiencing/ reporting domestic abuse are better understood, and better outcomes for people can be achieved as a result. The guide offers good, practical advice to staff and managers to ensure that older, disabled and mentally ill people in vulnerable circumstances have the best support, advice and options for resolution and recovery if they are harmed or abused by a partner or family member. It also identifies some of the organisational developments which can support best practice in this area.

      Sunderland now has a multi-agency domestic abuse referrals pathway and staff guidance document (see Domestic Abuse Referral PathwayDomestic Abuse Referral Guidance).  It is aimed at all staff working with children, families and vulnerable people who may be living with domestic abuse in Sunderland.  This includes those working with adults at risk of abuse and neglect and those at risk of sexual exploitation.  The guide aims to help staff enable a disclosure and make safe enquiries by safely and confidently asking about domestic abuse and how to respond (i.e. 'ask and act').  It:

      • Provides guidance on carrying out a risk assessment and how and where to make referrals according to the levels of risk and vulnerability
      • Includes good practice guidance when working with victims, children and perpetrators
      • Covers safety planning advice and links to a range of local, regional and national help and support agencies
      • Provides advice on what intervention approaches are most appropriate according to the stage of change the victim may be at - and their needs
      • Provides links to the relevant on-line procedures, risk assessment tools, referral forms, training and further guidance
      • It has an appendix (Appendix 6) which acts as a stand-alone aide-memoire focusing on some of the key advice as part of a referral pathway summary sheet             

      • 3. Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

        The Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) system is a process which aims to allow statutory and voluntary agencies to give a consistent and structured response to managing the risk posed by perpetrators in cases of Domestic Abuse. It is used to consider cases of domestic abuse that are categorised as High Risk. The system runs alongside other recognised structured processes in place to manage the risks to other groups of the population, including the SSCB Safeguarding Children Procedures and Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) for highest risk offenders.

        Within a MARAC, relevant agencies are able to share up to date risk information, with a comprehensive assessment of a victim’s needs and decide upon the most appropriate way to reduce or manage the identified risks around each case of Domestic Abuse that is the subject of a MARAC. The meeting links those directly to the provision of appropriate services for all those involved in a Domestic Abuse case: victim, children and perpetrator.

        A MARAC will:

        • Share information to increase the safety, health and wellbeing of victims – adults and their children;
        • Determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk to any particular individual or to the general community;
        • Construct jointly and implement a risk management plan that provides professional support to all those at risk and that reduces the risk of harm;
        • Reduce repeat victimisation;
        • Improve agency accountability;
        • Improve support for staff involved in high risk domestic abuse cases;
        • Identify those situations that indicate a need for the SSAB Safeguarding Adults Procedures or SSCB Safeguarding Children Procedures to be initiated.

        Cases can be referred into a MARAC by any agency signed up to the MARAC protocol. Only cases that fall within the High Risk category should be referred to a MARAC.

        The MARAC Protocol was updated in 2017 and the appendices contain a range of relevant risk assessments and referral forms including:

        • SafeLives Dash risk checklist
        • MARAC Assessment Criteria
        • MARAC Consent form for information sharing 
        • Overview of legal provisions relating to information sharing
        • A sample MARAC agenda
        • A case summaries sheet
        • Sunderland MARAC referral form
        • MARAC Research from
        • Sample MARAC Minutes
        • Domestic Abuse
        • MARAC procedural flowchart
        • Role & Responsibilities of partner agencies 

        You can also download the:

        Information about Sunderland's MARAC arrangements are also available from Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board Procedures MARAC Procedure.

        • 4. Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)

          See also Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure.

          The purpose of the MAPPA framework is to reduce the risks posed by sexual and violent offenders in order to protect the public, including previous victims, from serious harm. The responsible authorities in respect of MAPPA are the police, prison and probation services who have a duty to ensure that MAPPA is established in each of their geographic areas to ensure the risk assessment and management of all identified MAPPA offenders (primarily violent offenders on licence or mental health orders and all registered sex offenders). The police, prison and probation services have a clear statutory duty to share information for MAPPA purposes.

          Other organisations have a duty to cooperate with the responsible authority, including the sharing of information. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 states these are:

          • Youth Offending Teams (YOTs);
          • Ministers of the Crown exercising functions in relation to social security, child support, war pensions, employment and training (in practice, Jobcentre Plus);
          • The local education authority;
          • The local housing authority;
          • Registered social landlords providing or managing residential accommodation in which MAPPA offenders may reside;
          • Local social services authority (in Sunderland, the People Directorate of Sunderland City Council);
          • Health Authority or Strategic Health Authority (now covered by NHS England);
          • The Primary Care Trust or Local Health Board (now Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group);
          • The NHS Trust;
          • Providers of electronic monitoring services;
          • UK Border Agency.

          • 5. Forced Marriage (FM)

            See also:

            Information and practice guidelines for professionals protecting, advising and supporting victims: GOV.UK - Guidance on Forced Marriage

            The Right To Choose: Multi-Agency Statutory Guidance for Dealing with Forced Marriage, June 2014 which is guidance is for all persons and bodies who exercise public function in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults at risk of abuse and neglect.

            Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage, June 2014 which is step-by-step advice for frontline workers. Essential reading for health professionals, educational staff, police, children’s social care, adult social services and local authority housing.

            Any frontline staff who suspect someone is a victim of honour-based abuse or forced marriage should call the National Forced Marriage Helpline, run by Karma Nirvana, on: 0800 5999 247 (Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm).  They provide advice and guidance to professionals.  See also their website: Karma Nirvana    

            ‘A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not (or in the case of some adults with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure’ (HM Government, 2009).

            In 2012 alone, the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) provided advice and support to 1,485 possible forced marriage cases. It is understood that forced marriage is still underreported and the scale of the problem is likely to be much greater.

            There is a clear distinction between an ‘arranged marriage’ and a ‘forced marriage’. An ‘arranged marriage’ is legal and is entered freely by both parties, although their families take a leading role in the choice of the partner. It becomes a ‘forced marriage’ when there is any form of duress. Forced marriage is a violation of human rights in itself, because it deprives victims of the ability to choose their own partner and to make basic decisions about their lives. It may also lead to other violations of human rights, including imprisonment, rape, domestic abuse and forced pregnancy. Many of the trigger factors are the same as for other forms of ‘honour’-based violence.

            Forced marriage is a form of abuse and should be treated as such. Cases should be tackled using existing structures, policies and procedures designed to safeguard children and victims of domestic abuse.

            There have been reports of adults with mental and physical disabilities being forced to marry. In 2013, 97 of the 1013 (9.6 per cent) of cases known to the Forced Marriage Unit concerned a disabled person.  It is important to recognise that forced marriage situations can involve the person being at risk from a number of people in the family and/or community through so-called ‘honour-based violence’. Serious injury or death may be threatened or perpetrated against someone who does not cooperate with the marriage or their family.

            Some individuals do not have the capacity (see Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) to consent to the marriage. Some individuals may be unable to consent to consummate the marriage. Sexual intercourse without consent is rape.

            The Home Office also published Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities: Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines.

            Every year, hundreds of young people in Britain, both male and female, are forced into marriage against their will, often as a result of extreme violence and blackmail from their own families and relatives. It is estimated that approximately 8,000-10,000 forced marriages of British citizens take place every year.  In 2012, the majority of cases were female (82% of victims) and 18% of cases involved male victims (FMU, 2013).  A large proportion of people affected by forced marriage come from the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia and Africa (source: Forced Marriage Unit. (2013). Forced Marriage Unit: Statistics January to December 2012. London: Home Office & Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

            The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office unit which was set up in January 2005 to lead on the Government's forced marriage policy, outreach and casework. It operates both inside the UK, where support is provided to any individual, and overseas, where consular assistance is provided to British nationals, including dual nationals. 

            The FMU operates a public helpline, Tel: 020 7008 0151 or Out of hours: 020 7008 1500, to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage as well as to professionals dealing with cases. The assistance provided ranges from simple safety advice, through to aiding a victim to prevent their unwanted spouse moving to the UK (‘reluctant sponsor’ cases), and, in extreme circumstances, rescues of victims held against their will overseas.

            The FMU undertake an extensive outreach and training programme of around 100 events a year, targeting both professionals and potential victims. The FMU also carry out media campaigns, such as 2015’s ‘right to choose’ campaign, where the FMU commissioned a short film to raise awareness amongst young people at risk of being forced into marriage, as well as potential perpetrators.

            Disclosures of potential forced marriage must be taken seriously. In addition, there is advice on safety planning and practice guidance from the Home Office’s Forced Marriage Unit, on this issue.

            Forcing someone to marry is now a criminal offence in England and Wales in 2013/14 through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.  In June 2014, legislation changed in relation to The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 and Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs).  This was done through Part 10 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which legislated on forced marriage and amended the Family Law Act 1996 to make it an offence in England and Wales for a person to use violence, threats or any other form of causing another person to enter into a marriage without free and full consent. This change in legislation has criminalised Forced Marriage and criminalised a breach of FMPO.  Applying to court for this order will prohibit the family of the person at risk to take certain courses of action which may lead to a forced marriage. A FMPO can be effective by preventing the victim’s family from contacting them, putting pressure on them or taking them out of country. Also see GOV.UK - Apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order

            Further information is available on:

            • 6. Honour Based Abuse (HBA)

              What is honour-based abuse, honour violence and honour crimes?

              The concept of 'honour' is deemed to be extremely important for some people.  To compromise a family's 'honour' is to bring dishonour and shame and this can have severe consequences.  The punishment for bringing dishonour can be emotional abuse, physical abuse, family disownment and in some cases even murder.

              Victims of honour crimes are not determined by age, gender, sexuality or religion.  In most honour-based abuse cases there are multiple perpetrators from the immediate family, sometimes the extended family and occasionally the community at large.  Mothers, sisters, aunties and even grandmothers have been known to be involved in the conspiring of honour crimes.

              Honour crimes are most prevalent within diaspora communities from South Asia, the Middle East, and North and East Africa.  Reports come from Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Orthodox Jewish and occasionally traveller communities.  Honour abuse is not determined by gender; both perpetrators and victims can be male or female.  

              So called 'honour-based abuse' is a crime, and a Referral must always be made to the police. It has or may have been committed when families feel that dishonour has been brought to the family. Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims, and the violence is often committed with a degree of collusion from family members and/or the community.

              Many of these victims will contact police or other organisations.

              Many are so isolated and controlled that they are unable to contact the police.

              Alerts that may indicate honour-based abuse include domestic violence, concerns about forced marriage or enforced house arrest and missing persons' reports. If a concern is raised through a Safeguarding Adults Concern form, and there is a suspicion that the adult is the victim of honour-based abuse, referral must always be made to the police who have the necessary expertise to manage risk.

              • 7. Help and Support Agencies

                • 7.1 Local Help and Support for Domestic Abuse Victims

                  • Wearside Women in Need (WWIN) Tel: 0800 066 5555 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) (domestic violence refuge accommodation, 24/7 confidential helpline, outreach and floating support; and the Independent Domestic Violence Advisors who provide support to the highest risk victims). WWIN support female and male victims;

                  • Sunderland Counselling Services Tel: 0191 514 7007. Counselling services for male and female victims of childhood sexual violence or rape in adulthood;

                  • Northumbria Police take domestic abuse very seriously. In an emergency always call the Police on 999 for immediate help. At other times ring 101 and ask for the crime desk. The police can take action against an abuser and give advice on home security and other matters;

                  • Clare's Law: The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is designed to provide victims with information that may protect them form an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy. The scheme allows the police to disclose information about a partners’ previous history of domestic abuse or violent acts. An application can be made by ringing 101, visiting a police station or on-line at Northumbria Police

                  • The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is a place where victims can receive help and advice and a forensic examination if they have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted.  REACH (Rape examination, advice, counselling and help) is the name of the SARC that is operated in the Northumbria Police area. REACH is a free, confidential counselling, advice and support service which helps women and men aged 16 or over who have been raped or sexually assaulted. The centres are staffed by women who are experienced in dealing with the effects of rape and sexual assault. They will be happy to help victims whether or not they wish to report the assault to the police. It also has two forensic examination centres: the Rhona Cross Suite located in Newcastle and the Ellis Fraser Suite in Sunderland. Visits are by strict appointment only. Tel: 0191 221 9222.

                  • Victims First Northumbria is an independent victim referral service.  Tel: 0800 011 3116 (Monday - Friday, 8am - 8pm and Saturday 9am - 5pm) or email  

                  • The Halo Project.  Tel: 01642 683 045 (honour based violence, forced marriage)

                  • Angelou Centre (for BME women and children, women with no recourse to public funds). Outreach, advice and support. Tel: 0191 226 0394

                  • The Safer Sunderland Partnership website also has additional information about domestic abuse. 

                  • 7.2 National Help and Support for Domestic Abuse Victims (female, male and LGBT)

                    • Women’s Aid: Tel: 0808 2000 247 - the national 24 hour domestic violence helpline;
                    • MALE: Tel: 0808 801 0327 (Monday – Friday 10am-5pm) Confidential helpline to support male victims of domestic violence;
                    • Forced Marriage Helpline Tel: 0800 5999 247 (not 24 hours);
                    • The Forced Marriage Unit 020 7008 0151;
                    • The CHOICE helpline Tel: 0800 5999 365 (forced marriage)
                    • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is abuse and it is mandatory to report it. For further advice and guidance on FGM contact Police on101 or Children’s Social Care on Tel: 0191 520 5552 (anytime)
                    • GALOP: Tel: 0300 999 5428. A service for LGBT people who are experiencing domestic violence;
                    • MESMAC North East: Tel: 0191 233 1333. This is a gay/bisexual men's health project which offers advice and information on many different health issues and anti-violence;
                    • Rape Crisis: A national body that provides co-ordination for the rape crisis movement in England and Wales - the website lists local centres.

                    • 7.3 Domestic Abuse Perpetrators

                      • RESPECT: Tel: 0808 802 4040. Website: Respect Phone Line  A helpline for domestic violence perpetrators which is free from landlines and most mobile phones.  They also have a range of resources for those working with domestic abuse perpetrators: Respect Phone Line - Help & Information for Frontline Workers and Domestic Violence Perpetrators
                      • BIG Programme: Sunderland Domestic Abuse Perpetrators Programme. BIG is a partnership between Barnardo’s, Impact Family Services and Gentoo to provide a voluntary perpetrator programme for men aged 18 and over who live within the City of Sunderland.  Working in partnership with Wearside Women in Need, who provide support to partners or ex partners of men attending the programme. Tel: 0191 567 8282 Fax: 0191 5660629 Email: