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Domestic abuse during COVID-19

At home shouldn’t mean at risk. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse don’t suffer in silence. Police response and support services remain available to help and advise you.

What is domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic abuse is 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. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, income, religion, belief, sex, disability, culture or sexual orientation.

This can include, but is not limited to:

  • physical violence
  • controlling behaviour
  • being hurt sexually 
  • being stopped from seeing friends or family

You are not alone. Help and support is available.

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is defined as 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

Coercive behaviour is defined as 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.

If you think you are experiencing any type of abuse, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. If you are unsure but it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You may feel alone and that no-one can help you, but you are not alone and support is available. Speaking to someone about what you are going through can help you to feel less alone and can support you in understanding your options.

How to get help

You can report domestic violence and abuse to the police online, or:

  • phone 101
  • in person at your local police station

Remember if you or someone else is in immediate danger, please call 999 and ask for the police.

If it is not safe for you to speak you can use the Silent Solution system - call 999, and if you don’t speak you will be diverted to an automated system. You can then press 55 to be transferred to the local police force.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), or Clare’s Law, is a way to find out if your partner has a history of domestic abuse and may pose a risk to you. Request information under Clare's Law: Make a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) application.

Specialist services

If you’ve been affected by domestic violence and want to find out more about the help, advice and support available locally contact the Brighton and Hove Domestic Abuse Support Service at Victim Support. Send an email to b&hdass@victimsupport.org.uk or phone 0300 323 9985, if all the staff are on other calls please do leave a message and someone will call you back as soon as possible.

To make a professionals referral please send an email to sevcu.referrals@victimsupport.cjsm.net.

Go to the Victim Support website for more information

Victim Support is specialist domestic abuse support in Brighton & Hove. This service starts on 1 April 2021. Providing independent information, advice, support and advocacy to victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Brighton & Hove, including:

  • access to 24/7 helpline & webchat
  • 1-2-1 casework support from trained Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs)
  • Hospital IDVA based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital
  • Criminal Justice IDVA to provide support through the criminal justice system

If you are in need of a Refuge space or you wish to make a professional referral, please contact Stonewater on 01293 780419 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or send an email to Brighton.Refuge@stonewater.org. Referrals to the Brighton Refuge are accepted from any source. Please note the area code and phone number listed above are correct and will take you to the local Brighton and Hove Refuge staff. If all the staff are on other calls please do leave a message and someone will call you back as soon as possible.

If you need information about Refuge spaces nationally or outside of office hours, please contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline. Phone 0808 2000 247 or go to the National Domestic Abuse website for more information.

Stonewater provide the specialist Brighton Refuge provision from 1 April 2021. It provides safe accommodation and support for women (18+) and their children, aged 0 to 18, who are fleeing domestic abuse. They accommodate up to 15 women (plus their children) in self-contained accommodation. They have a specialist staff team who are trained in:

  • Trauma Informed Care
  • substance use support
  • mental health support
  • Psychologically Informed Environments

Safeguarding children

To find out about the support available for you and your family, or if you are concerned about a child's welfare. Contact the Front Door for Families team on 01273 290 400

Safeguarding adults

To report abuse or neglect of an adult contact Access Point on 01273 29 55 55.

If you're a professional, complete the safeguarding adults at risk form.

National support

These helplines are available:

24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline

For women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf

National LGBT+ domestic violence helpline

Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse

National Stalking helpline

Respect phone line

A confidential helpline for people who are abusive and/or violent towards their current or ex-partner. Offers information and advice to support perpetrators to stop their violence and change their abusive behaviours.

Respect Men's Advice Line

A confidential helpline offering advice and support for male victims of domestic violence or abuse.

Keeping yourself and your children safe

There are steps you can take to help keep yourself (and your children) safe:

  • Tell someone you trust about the situation. Ask them to keep an eye on you. Decide on a safe word or phrase you can use, or text to let them know you are in danger. Agree what they would do in this situation (e.g. call the police).
  • Plan what to do in an emergency. Decide which room at home feels safest and which friends or family you can turn to. If you can’t leave the property try to block yourself in the safest room and call 999- see below for what to do if you can’t speak when you call.
  • Teach your children when to call 999, what to do, and how to give their address. Ask neighbours to call 999 if they hear a disturbance. Keep copies of important documents, along with some emergency money, any medication, and a packed bag for emergencies in a safe place or with a trusted friend or family member.
  • If it is not safe for you to speak you can use the Silent Solution system - call 999, and if you don’t speak you will be diverted to an automated system. You can then press 55 to be transferred to the local police force.
  • Keep your phone close and fully charged. Put important numbers on speed dial.
  • Keep a date, time and item record of unwanted contact and how it made you feel. Only do this if you have a safe place to store it.
  • If you are planning to leave ask for help and support to consider how to do it in the safest way possible.

Other useful services


RISE is a Sussex-based charity that supports people affected by domestic abuse and violence.

Go to the RISE UK website.

Survivors' Network

Help and support for those who have experienced sexual violence, rape or childhood sexual abuse.

Veritas Justice

Local stalking support

Safe Space Sussex

Directory of support services if you have been the victim of a crime

Women's Centre

Information and support, counselling and complimentary therapies by appointment

Victim Support

Help for victims of crime and hate incidents