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Women’s safety and domestic abuse

Although these services are not exclusively there for or just needed by women, they are essential in supporting women who are in these distressing and sometimes dangerous situations.

Our message to women at this time is simple – the NHS is here for you.

The signs of domestic abuse

Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. Domestic violence can happen against anyone, and anybody can be an abuser. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.

Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It can also include:

• coercive control and ‘gaslighting’

• economic abuse

• online abuse

• threats and intimidation

• emotional abuse

• sexual abuse

The government's webpage on spotting the signs has a checklist on what to look out for.

Public information on domestic abuse

The NHS website has advice for the public on spotting the signs of domestic abuse and domestic violence and where to go for help. The NHS also has a help page for those who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

The Home Office is promoting the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline number 0808 2000 247 and associated online support available at nationaldahelpline.org.uk

As part of the campaign, the Home Office has produced detailed advice for those experiencing domestic abuse and domestic violence.

In addition, Respect is an anonymous and confidential helpline for men and women who are harming their partners and families. The helpline also takes calls from partners or ex-partners, friends and relatives who are concerned about perpetrators.

You Are Not Alone campaign

The Home Office's campaign "You Are Not Alone" encourages people to come forward for support if they are experiencing domestic abuse. A whole suite of materials including social media assets, email signature cards, safeguarding leaflets, animations for Instagram stories and posters and leaflets for your surgery waiting rooms are available to download online here. Materials in other languages are also available to download.

How the public can access help

If you are worried that a friend, neighbour or loved one is a victim of domestic abuse then you can call the freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 and further information is on the helpline's dedicated website. If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.

The Government has a detailed webpage Domestic abuse: get help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak where you can find out how to get help if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse. In particular, the government pages have translated guidance, welfare benefits and housing advice as well as advice on how to get legal help. The pages also give details on the domestic abuse code-word scheme. If someone is experiencing domestic abuse and needs immediate help, they can ask for ‘ANI’ in a participating pharmacy. ‘ANI’ stands for Action Needed Immediately but also phonetically sounds like the name Annie. If a pharmacy has the ‘Ask for ANI’ logo on display, it means they’re ready to help. They will offer the person a private space, provide a phone and ask if they need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.

Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs)

SARCs remain open and accessible during COVID-19 to offer non-judgmental advice and support. Victims and survivors will be triaged on contact with the SARC, to ensure safe management during this period. Remote support will be available to support pathways to therapeutic interventions. Forensic examination services will be offered to those that want it, to support a criminal prosecution.
If a patient presents with the signs of sexual assault it is important that the SARC is informed urgently. A directory of local services is available here:

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Rape-and-sexual-assault-referral-centres/LocationSearch/364

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