Domestic violence

Domestic violence

This page offers information about the services we offer relating to domestic violence.

How to help others affected by domestic abuse

Here you will find information on how to help if you believe someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse.

Steps you should take
If you suspect or know someone is affected by domestic violence you should approach this sensitively and, if a disclosure is made, explain to them that:
  • you will support them in any way you can, but be honest about your level of experience and refer to appropriate agencies who can offer a more appropriate level of support
  • inform them there are fully trained people who will understand their situation, and be able to help them
  • you will keep this information confidential, unless there is a statutory responsibility to safeguard children or vulnerable adults at risk, or others who may be at risk of significant harm or death
  • they are not alone. This is a significant hidden harm for many people. One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some stage in their lives.
  • it is not their fault
  • you will listen to them and take them seriously
  • you will be there for them, regardless of their decisions
  • you will not judge them
  • you will help them find support and advice
  • you will not try to intervene
  • you will respect their need to be secretive, unless there is risk of significant harm or death
  • You do not expect them simply to  leave, because:
    • they may need help to leave
    • they may not want to leave
    • they may want the abuser to leave
It is important, when obtaining the contact details of a victim, any telephone numbers or addresses they provide are a safe means of contact. Whatever the circumstances, do not put yourself in a dangerous position and be careful not to endanger them further.
Services to refer to
A list of local and national support agencies can be obtained via the Northumberland domestic abuse website.

This site is currently under review, but further information can be provided by the domestic abuse and sexual violence policy officer on 01670 623 734.

Independent domestic violence advisors service

Independent domestic violence advisors (IDVA)* are trained specialists whose primary aim is the safety of domestic violence victims.

They focus on risk & risk management, particularly focusing on survivors at high risk of harm. They work directly with victims to provide advice and support, to help them make safety plans and understand their options.

They also assist in accessing a full range of legal and non-legal services & engage proactively in multi-agency work to keep survivors and their children safe. Most of their referrals are from statutory agencies – few are self-referrals.

Support given to victims by IDVA’s:
  • one-to-one support: individual emotional and practical support
  • safety planning: assistance with escape plans and coping strategies
  • group support: confidence building, raising self-esteem, therapeutic interventions
  • practical support: criminal injuries compensation claims, accompanied visits to GPs, solicitors and other support agencies, assistance with forms/paperwork
  • signposting and referral: to specialist agencies within Northumberland
*Note – The Northumberland IDVA service has closed and is no longer taking referrals. Work is ongoing to address this gap in service provision.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights and comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of female genitalia, or any other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003
This act makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK, or take girls who are British nationals, or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM, regardless of legality in that country. It is illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad. There is a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine.
  • For more information, please contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500 or click here to view the website.
Recent government guidance has been published to support services in recognising and dealing with victims and their families:
Legislative updates on FGM
The Ministry of Justice has, through the Serious Crime Act 2015, introduced FGM protection orders and lifelong anonymity for victims of FGM, extended the reach of extra territorial offences and created a new offence of failing to protect a girl from risk of FGM. The law will be kept under review to ensure it protects those at risk.
  • Further work regarding this subject area is highlighted by clicking here.
Other useful contacts

Northumberland County Council strategic community safety unit
The unit has staff fully trained in domestic violence awareness, including information on early forced marriage (EFM) and female genital mutilation (FGM), and multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) compliant.
Obtain confidential advice and support by contact them:

  • Domestic violence coordinator: 01670 623 734

Forced marriage & honour-based violence

This section gives you information and contact details regarding forced marriage and honour-based violence.

Difference between forced marriage & arranged marriage
There is a clear distinction between a forced and an arranged marriage.

In arranged marriages, the family of both spouses take leading roles in arrangements, but the choice of whether to accept or not, remains with the prospective spouses.

In forced marriage, one or both spouses do not – or in the case of some vulnerable adults, cannot – consent to the marriage and duress is involved. This can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.

All practitioners working with victims of forced marriage need to be aware of the ‘once chance’ rule. That is, they may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim, and thus only one chance to save a life.

This means practitioners need to be aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across forced marriage cases. If a victim is allowed to leave without support, their chance may be lost.

Regardless of circumstances, victims have rights that should always be respected, such as safety and accurate information about their rights and choices. Practitioners should listen to and respect the wishes of the victim.

Disclosures of forced marriage should not be dismissed as a domestic issue. For many, seeking help is a last resort and therefore all disclosures should be taken seriously. Involving families in the case of forced marriages may increase the risk of serious harm to a victim.
Honour-based violence
The term ‘honour crime’ or ‘honour-based violence’ embraces a variety of crimes – mainly, but not exclusively against women. This includes assault, imprisonment and murder where their family or community are punishing the victim.

They are being punished for undermining what the family/community believes to be the correct code of behaviour. In transgressing this, the victim shows they have not been properly controlled to conform and this is to be the ‘shame’ or ‘dishonour’ of the family.
Useful contact details

Forced Marriage Unit
The government has set up the Forced Marriage Unit to provide practical support, information and advice. This is a joint initiative between the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Home Office.

Forced marriage multi-agency practice guidelines
The unit has published a revised set of practice guidelines to help frontline professionals work more closely together and to better identify/protect children and adults at risk. Karma Nirvana
Established in 1993, Karma Nirvana has developed from a local project to an international project in relation to forced marriage and honour-based violence. Karma Nirvana supports women, men and couples. Honour Network
A project designed to support victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based violence.
  • Telephone: 0800 5999 247
A helpline, established by Cleveland police, now includes Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary and consists of specially trained staff. Advice/support can be obtained in relation to forced marriage and honour-based violence.
  • Telephone: 0800 5999 365

Practical advice for people fleeing domestic abuse

Here you will find practical advice for people fleeing domestic abuse.

What will someone fleeing domestic abuse need?
If a victim is thinking about leaving, they need to take with them:
  • money, credit cards
  • emergency numbers
  • any ID, birth and marriage certificates, driving licence, bankbooks, rent book, court orders/injunctions
  • house/car/office keys
  • passport/visa/work permit
  • address book
  • any medication
  • children’s favourite toy
  • change of clothes and toiletries
  • mobile phone and charger
You may want to leave an emergency bag with a trusted friend, relative or support agency.
Why do people stay in or return to abusive relationships?
There are many reasons why people stay in, or return to, abusive relationships. Here is a list of some of those reasons.

Emotional difficulties
  • Power - The coercive and controlling behaviour of the perpetrator of the abuse can be a factor.
  • Fear of partner - People are often terrified of being found by their abusers. Experience shows this fear is justified. Abusers will go to extraordinary lengths to trace their victims.
  • Fear of living alone - They may have been kept in isolation and feel they have no friends, or have been denied contact with their family. They may have been totally controlled and do not know how to cope alone.
  • Lack of self-respect/confidence - They may have come to believe all the names they have been called and therefore feel worthless.
  • Guilt - They may have been told it is their own fault, they have provoked him/her and therefore they get what they deserve.
  • Drugs/alcohol - Either of these can be used as a means of control.
  • Love - It is perfectly possible to love someone, but hate what they do. They may want the abuse to stop, but not the relationship.
  • Hope - Victims are often optimistic and want to believe the abuser when they say they won’t do it again.
Practical difficulties
  • Money - They may have no money of their own and no idea they are entitled to benefits.
  • Accommodation - Where will they go? Even if they know their way around the ‘system’, the prospect of moving to a refuge of B&B can be daunting.
  • Possessions - They may have to leave absolutely everything behind in the knowledge they are unlikely to see any of it again.
  • Children - They may feel guilty about uprooting their children from school, friends, family, pets and their other parents, with who they might have a good relationship. They may also fear the children may be taken away from them if they disclose domestic abuse.
  • Skills - If they have been controlled, given no money, clothes or social contacts, or more generally, no access to the public world, they may not know how to leave.


Useful contacts for domestic violence, abuse & safeguarding issues

Here you will find useful Northumberland contact details for domestic violence, abuse, sexual abuse and safeguarding issues.

Northumberland domestic abuse service (NDAS)
NDAS is a registered charity providing comprehensive support to those affected by or experiencing Domestic Abuse living in Northumberland. We provide services to women, men, young people, older people, people with disabilities, gay, straight, bi, lesbian and trans, our services are inclusive and non-discriminatory.
We offer a free and confidential service, providing emotional and practical, working closely in partnership with other specialist local organisations.  
We have services for:
  • Women aged 26 years and over
  • Young women aged 16 to 25 years
  • Men and boys aged 16 years and over
  • CADAN Project for children of our Service Users up to the age of 16 years  
We provide training on Abusive Relationships, Young People Affected by Intimate Partner Violence and Session Planning to other organisations. We also provide awareness and prevention work in schools and colleges.
Our aim is to protect and empower all our service users by providing flexible and professional support throughout Northumberland.
Women’s Health Advice Centre, Ashington
The Women’s Health Advice Centre is a registered charity, which provides services relating to the health and wellbeing of women and adolescent girls in Northumberland. The service is also open to men. Please refer to the contact information for further details:
GRACE Northumberland rape & sexual violence project
Grace Northumberland Rape Crisis is a charity offering free, confidential services for women and girls over 13 who are survivors of sexual violence.
Northumberland Women’s Refuge
Northumberland Women’s Refuge provides accommodation to female victims of domestic violence and is one of a number of refuges across the county.
Rape & sexual assault counselling (REACH)
REACH provides rape examination, advice, counselling and help. There are two centres, one in Newcastle and the other in Sunderland.
Safer Northumberland
This website offers general advice about community safety in Northumberland, information about campaigns and links to other service providers.
Northumberland NHS Care Trust
The trust supports vulnerable adults who are being abused by the following means:
  • emotional abuse such as humiliation, harassment, social isolation, threats, verbal abuse and intimidation
  • neglect, where a person suffers because their health or physical needs are being neglected by a care giver
  • financial abuse, including theft, fraud or using a vulnerable adult’s property without permission
  • physical abuse, such as hitting, pushing, shaking, not giving the right medication and bodily neglect
  • sexual abuse, where a vulnerable adult cannot or does not give their consent, or sexual harrassment
Further information and support can be found on the website or by calling 01670 536400 during office hours or 0345 6005252 out of office hours.
Northumberland safeguarding children board
We all have a statutory responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. Northumberland safeguarding children board has developed this website to provide easily accessible and up-to-date safeguarding information for professionals, children and young people, families and members of the public.

The site also provides some information on a range of safeguarding issues for parents and carers and children and young people in Northumberland. We provide links to the websites of other organisations where we know more advice on specific subjects available.
Worried about a child
If you think a child or young person is being abused or mistreated, or you have concerns about the safety or welfare of a child, you must speak to someone immediately.
  • You can call the safeguarding team on 01670 623 980 (office hours) who will connect you to your local children’s social care team or call 01670 822 386 out of hours.
  • In an emergency, dial 999.

Regional support services for victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence & safeguarding

Below are contact details for useful support services that exist in our region.

Victims First Northumbria
Victims First Northumbria is an independent and free victim referral service. We put the victim at the heart of everything we do. We ensure victims of crime, whether referred by police, another agency, or self-referrals are contacted by a co-ordinator, who will give them help and support to cope and recover.

Being a victim of a crime can be traumatic and Victims First understands everyone’s differing needs and situations, always giving the best possible support, care and advice.
MESMAC North East
MESMAC is a gay/bisexual men’s health project offering free HIV tests, advice and information on many different health issues including PEP (exposure to HIV treatment), counselling, sexual health services, sexually transmitted infections and much more. We also provide services such as group helplines and a drop-in service.

Our services are:
  • open to all gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, including those who are unsure if they’re gay or bisexual
  • for men who are HIV positive, negative or don’t know
  • confidential

Useful national support for domestic abuse victims

Listed below are a number of national organisations who help victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, as well as safeguarding those who are vulnerable.

National domestic violence helpline
The 24-hour free phone national domestic violence helpline runs in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge and is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence. Family, friends, colleagues and others may call on their behalf.
National stalking helpline
The national stalking network has been established by Network for Surviving Stalking, Protection against Stalking and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. It is the first national helpline to specialise in providing information and advice to victims of harassment and stalking as well as their friends and family.
Women’s Aid
Women’s Aid is the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.
The Hideout
Women’s Aid have created this space to help children and young people to understand domestic abuse and how to take positive action.
Mankind is the UK’s leading charity for supporting male victims of abuse.
Broken Rainbow
Broken Rainbow provides the national helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people experiencing domestic violence.
National rape crisis helpline
This free phone helpline is for both female and male survivors, partners, friends and family. It is open from noon to 2pm and 7pm to 9.30pm every day of the year.
  • Telephone: 0808 802 9999
Respect phoneline
If you are a man who is worried about your behaviour towards your partner, or if you have been abusive or violent, you can get information from the respect phone line.

It is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm.