How to report and stay safe

How to report domestic abuse and stay safe

There are many ways domestic abuse can be reported - whether by a victim themselves or a friend or relative of someone who is experiencing an abusive situation.

The most important thing is to tell someone - a friend, relative, colleague, support service or agency.

Keeping a record of the abuse

Whilst some victims of domestic abuse may not want to report the crime for a number of reasons, there may come a point when they want or need to.  Having a record of what has happened and when, is very important as it may be used at a later date to support court cases or re-housing applications if applicable. 

Where possible this record should include:

  • The date and time of the incident
  • Details of any witnesses
  • How it made the victim feel
  • A photograph of any injuries

Ideally any injuries should be reported to the victim’s GP or hospital. It is important that this record is kept safely by the victim, so as not to put them at further risk. Services and agencies who support victims of domestic abuse can give advice on how best to do this.

Staying safe

If possible, the victim should try and leave the situation as their personal safety and that of any children involved is of paramount importance.

Keeping safe if a victim decides to leave their home:

  • Tell somebody they trust that they are leaving. They may want to agree a plan and/or a code word in advance
  • Have a small bag packed with spare clothes, keys, telephone numbers and money in case they have to leave quickly. If they are afraid that it will be found, leave it at work or with a friend or someone they trust
  • Talk to their children beforehand about the possibility of leaving in an emergency if it is appropriate. The children should be taken with them
  • Only leave when it is safe to do so
  • Take some identification that might help others protect them from the perpetrator, such as a recent photograph and any official documentation such as a passport, driving licence and/or other documentation if applicable.  This will help in sorting any benefits or other entitlements as quickly as possible once they have left the situation
  • If they later discover that they have left something behind, they can arrange to collect it with a police officer – they should not return by themselves
  • Take advice regarding injunctions from a reliable solicitor

Keeping safe if a victim decides to stay:

How to keep safe during a violent incident:

  • If the victim is able to they should dial 999 in an emergency. They should try to leave the telephone line open (or ‘off the hook’) so that the operator can still hear them
  • If they can't dial 999, they should try to telephone or text a friend, relative or neighbour with a pre-arranged code word indicating that they need help so that they can call the police for them
  • Plan escape routes before they need to use them

Clare’s Law (Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme)

Clare’s Law, or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) is designed to provide victims with information that may protect themselves from an abusive situation.

Under Clare’s Law, men and woman can request information about their partner, as can a third party such as a friend, relative or neighbour if they are concerned. The police can disclose information about a partner's previous history or violent acts.