One of the most important roles you have in supporting a victim of abuse is helping them to stay safe, and to help them recognise when a situation may not be safe for them. A victim of abuse may have been living with extreme psychological and emotional abuse, as well as physical violence (including sexual violence). Domestic abuse is about control and if an abuser suspects they are losing control over their victim(s) they can become unpredictable and incredibly violent. At this point the risk of harm to a victim and any children that may be involved increases dramatically.
Trained domestic abuse professionals who work with victims can help them to create detailed safety plans. Where possible it’s advisable to encourage a victim to seek professional support from the police or other services like Torbay Domestic Abuse Service (TDAS) to do this. If a victim can’t or isn't able to do that, there are some things you can do to help them develop a safety plan of their own.
If someone is planning to leave an abusive person, check out the Planning to leave page.
If someone is not ready to leave an abusive person it is still important to help them to stay safer. The Planning to stay page gives more information.
Technology and 'smart' devices are often used to continue the abuse, to control or to track someone's movements. SafeLives produced a report on how technology can be used negatively by abusers but also positively by those looking for support. You can read the report and find a quick guide to Staying Safe Online here.
Depending on what a victim wants or needs, there are various services that they can access for help, support and guidance. The Directory on this website contains various services that may be of interest. Due to the nature of abuse an abuser will isolate their victim(s) until they believe that they are alone, worthless and completely unable to leave.
If you are working with someone who you suspect or know is at risk or abuse use the Directory on this website to show them the range of support that is available. This will demonstrate that there are organisations that can help. If you are using the victim’s computer please remember to ‘cover your tracks’.
Clare's Law - Victim’s right to ask
Under the domestic violence disclosure scheme an individual can ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. This is the ‘right to ask’. The scheme was brought into legislation under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. For more information visit the Devon & Cornwall Police website. To make a request contact the police on telephone 101.
Agency’s right to know
An agency can apply for a disclosure if it believes that a person is at risk of domestic violence from their partner. The police can release information if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so. For more information visit the GOV.UK website. To make a request contact the police on telephone 101.
Sarah's Law (Child Sexual Offender Disclosure Scheme)
If a parent, grandparent, carer, guardian is concerned about an individual who has direct access to a child in their care, under the Child Sexual Offender Disclosure Scheme they can apply to the police to disclose any relevant information that might suggest the child could be at risk of harm from that individual. This is also known as Sarah's Law. More information is on the Devon & Cornwall Police website.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence can support victims to apply for an emergency injunction following an incident. Find out more at the NCDV website.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs)
DVPOs aim to provide protection to victims by enabling the police and magistrates to put in place protection straight away after a domestic violence incident.
With DVPOs, an abuser can be banned with immediate effect from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need. For more information visit the GOV.UK website.
Sometimes people use words that not everybody has heard before, or understands. In terms of domestic abuse these might include:
|CJS||Criminal Justice System|
|CAADA||Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (an organisation) now known as Safe Lives|
|DASH||Domestic Abuse, Stalking, and Honour based violence|
|DHR||Domestic Homicide Review|
|FGM||Female Genital Mutilation|
|IDVA||Independent Domestic Violence Adviser|
|ISVA||Independent Sexual Violence Adviser|
|MARAC||Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference|
|Respect||An organisation that works with abusers, male victims and young people|
|RIC||Risk Identification Checklist|
|Women's Aid||An organisation working to end domestic violence against women and children|