Domestic Abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic violence is officially classified as "any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality". We think of domestic violence as hitting, slapping and beating, but it can also include emotional abuse as well as forced marriage and so-called "honour crimes."

Statistics show that Domestic Abuse is more common than you think.

purple_flower.jpg 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic abuse in there lifetime
purple_flower.jpg 1 incident of domestic abuse is reported to the police every minute
purple_flower.jpg 2 women a week are killed by a current or former partner
purple_flower.jpg 750,000 children a year witness domestic abuse

The five forms of domestic abuse

e.g) grabbing, punching, shoving, slapping, hitting, biting, arm-twisting, pulling hair, kicking, hitting with any blunt objects, stabbing etc

e.g) intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, victim, and/or others, threatening to harm and/or kidnap children, blackmail, harassment, destruction of property, stalking etc

The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence.
e.g) example: constant criticism, belittling victim's abilities and competency, name-calling, insults, silent treatment, manipulating victim's feelings and emotions to induce guilt, undermining a partner's relationship with the children

e.g) marital rape, acquaintance rape, forced sex after physical beating, attacks on the sexual parts of the body, forced prostitution

e.g) attempting to make the victim financially dependant, maintaining total control over financial resources including victim's earned income or resources received through public assistance or social security, forbidding employment, on-the-job harassment, requiring accountability and justification for all money spent, forced welfare fraud

The cycle of violence in domestic abuse
Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:



Who to contact for help?

purple_flower.jpg Police: 999 in emergency and volatile situations
purple_flower.jpg Luton Police Station DV Unit: (01582) 401212
purple_flower.jpg Luton All Women’s Centre: (01582) 416783
purple_flower.jpg Women’s Aid:  01582 391856
purple_flower.jpg IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy): 01582 488777

24-hour National Domestic Violence Free phone Helpline in conjunction with Women’s Aid and IDVA: 0808 2000 247 

If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can call these helplines:

purple_flower.jpg Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 027 1234
purple_flower.jpg Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 80 10 800
purple_flower.jpg Northern Irelands Women’s Aid Helpline: 0800 971 1414

Your legal rights

What does the law say?

As a victim you have a legal right to be safe from abuse in all its forms.

How can the Police help me?:

-    protecting you and your children
-    removing the risk of further violence (i.e arresting or removing the perpetrator from the property)
-    arranging for first aid and emergency medical help (i.e ambulance)
-    finding out what has happened and acknowledging the risks      associated with domestic violence.
-   Offering you support and reassurance
-    Helping you access other agencies (e.g Luton All Women’s Centre, Women’s Aid etc)
-    Arranging transport to a safe place (if you want or require this)

Domestic violence is dealt with both under criminal law and civil law.

Criminal Action
Criminal injuries compensation is available for abuse committed after 1964 where it can be regarded as an act of violence.
Criminal action may be taken up in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as a form of retribution and to punish the abuser.

Civil Action
You may be entitled to sue someone for the personal injuries you have suffered as a result of the abuse. This includes mental injury. You can also apply for a civil court order as a way of legally telling your abuser to stop harassing, hurting you, and to keep away from your home; i.e by getting an injuction.
There are two types of injuction under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996:

purple_flower.jpg non molestation order – this prevents the abuser from using threatening behavior or violence against yourself or your child. This includes harassing and pestering as it is aimed at ensuring the health, safety and well being of the victim.
Under new legislation, breaching a non molestation order is now a criminal offence and carries powers of arrest.
purple_flower.jpg occupation order – this order regulates who can live in the family home. This may also restrict the abuser from entering the surrounding area.

Children and the law

The law will also work to protect the children involved in domestic abuse cases as a primary way of safeguarding.
You can apply to the Family Courts for an order which specifies where and with whom the children should live. This will regulate the contact with the abusive parent.

KIDVA provide support for children who have been affected through domestic abuse or witnessing domestic abuse.

Who should I contact legal advice and help with the legal process?

purple_flower.jpg  Luton All Womens Centre runs a specialist legal advice service. 
purple_flower.jpg  For more information please contact us on: (01582) 416783
 Mon – Fri (9am till 5pm)
purple_flower.jpg Rights of Women have a free legal advice line:
020 7251 6577
purple_flower.jpg 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 
purple_flower.jpg You can also receive free legal advice through

Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy

IDVA provides specialist advice and services in relation to domestic abuse including:

- Creating safety plans and undertaking risk assessments
- Accompanying clients to court or arranging pre-trial visits
- Supporting clients to give evidence and write victim impact
- Requesting special measures eg. screens to conceal clients in court so they don’t have to face their abuser
- Helping clients to access refuge accommodation
- Helping clients to increase security in their property so that they can continue to live safely at home
- Providing emotional support and referring victims to counselling or mental health services
- Liaise with social workers on child protection issues   

Next steps – getting out of an abusive relationship

If you decide to leave your partner, it is advised that you plan this carefully as there are often situations where the abuse and violence may escalate if the abuser suspects that you are thinking of leaving.

This may be a dangerous time so it is vital to understand that ending the relationship does not necessarily mean the end of the abuse.

First step:
Plan to leave when you know the abuser won’t be around.
Take your children with you otherwise it may become difficult or even impossible to have them living with you in the future.
If you take your children with you, it is essential that the head teachers know of the situation and are aware of who will be collecting the children in the future.
Take everything you may need in the near future for yourself and your children as you may not be able to return later (e.g important documents)

When you start thinking of leaving, if possible, try to set aside a small amount of money each week of even set up a separate bank account.

What to pack when planning to leave your partner
These are items which sould be kept to hand or even packed in an “emergency bag.”•    Some form of identification (national insurance number, driving licence)

purple_flower.jpg Birth certificates for you and your children
purple_flower.jpg Passports (visas and work permits)
purple_flower.jpg Money, bank books, cheque book, credit and debit cards.
purple_flower.jpg Keys for your house, car and/or place of work
purple_flower.jpg Cards for payments of any benefit you are entitled to
purple_flower.jpg Medication
purple_flower.jpg Insurance documents for car or home
purple_flower.jpg Address book
purple_flower.jpg Clothing and toiletries for you and your children
purple_flower.jpg Family photos, jewellery, children’s favourite toys and sentimental items

You should also take with you any documentation that you may have relating to the abuse.
- e.g) police reports, court orders, injuctions, restraining orders and medical records.

Protecting yourself after you have left 
You may not want to tell people why you have left your partners however telling family, friends, your children’s school and your employer that you have left due to domestic violence may increase your safety.
In this situation, people will be more wary not to give out information about you to you ex partner and they will be better prepared to help in an emergency situation.

If you have left home but are staying in the same town or area, these are some ways to increase your safety:

purple_flower.jpg try not to isolate yourself
purple_flower.jpg try to avoid shops and restaurants where you used to visit with your ex partner
purple_flower.jpg if you have regular appointments with your partner knows about,
try to change these times and locations as much as possible.
purple_flower.jpg Try to choose safer or alternative routes when leaving placed you
cannot avoid (i.e work, doctors surgery, children’s school)
purple_flower.jpg Tell your children’s school and employer of your current situation

The Survivors handbook

Link to the survivors handbook (pdf):

The women’s aid organization provides practical advice to women who have overcome their domestic abuse and are ready to take the next step in their lives.

The survivor’s handbook includes detailed information on:

purple_flower.jpg Making a safety plan
purple_flower.jpg Housing options and refuge
purple_flower.jpg Legal rights
purple_flower.jpg Immigration issues
purple_flower.jpg Disabilities
purple_flower.jpg Making arrangements for children after separation
purple_flower.jpg surviving after abuse etc

Freedom Programme At Luton All Women's Centre


The FREEDOM Programme is a 12-week rolling programme.

This means that you can join at any time. The benefits are the same so long as you complete the full 12 weeks.


The programme is open to any woman who wishes to learn more about the reality of domestic abuse.


purple_flower.jpg To help women understand the beliefs held by abusive men and recognise which of these beliefs they have shared.
purple_flower.jpg To understand the effects of domestic abuse on children
purple_flower.jpg To assist women to recognise potential future abusers
purple_flower.jpg To help women gain self-esteem and the confidence to improve the quality of their lives
purple_flower.jpg To introduce women to resources available to them locally


01582 416 783
Drop-in: Mon – Fri 9:30am – 12:00pm    Appointments:  Mon – Fri 12:00pm – 4:00pm