Domestic abuse

If you feel you are in immediate danger call 999.

If your situation is not urgent, call the police on 101 or contact the Housing Advice Service on 0118 937 2165 to plan your next steps.

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What is domestic abuse?

The Home Office’s ‘official’ definition of 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 regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

“Controlling behaviour is: 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 is: 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.”


Am I in an abusive relationship?

Please visit BWA for a detailed description of the signs of domestic abuse.

My partner hasn’t hit me, but they are mean to me and the children. Is this abuse?

It can be, yes. Domestic abuse can take place in the form of coercive control.

Is my child being abusive towards me?

Whilst it is normal for adolescents to demonstrate healthy anger, it should not be confused with violence. Further information on violence to parents from children.

Is it my fault?

Abuse is never the fault of the victim.

I argue and sometimes fight back. Am I abusive too?

It is normal for couples to argue as long as no-one is hurt, threatened or assaulted as a result. It is also normal to want to defend yourself if someone is attacking you. However, this hugely increases the risk of serious injury to both you and your partner and should be avoided. Your actions might also be considered illegal by the police. There is help available to address this violence, so please consider getting in touch with BWA for more information on : 0118 950 4003.

How do I leave and where will I go?

BWA can provide support and advice to those who want to leave an abusive relationship, regardless of gender. This includes emergency accommodation specifically for up to 38 women and their children, specialist refuge provision, and information on local refuge for men. Please visit the webpages below for more information:

For those who do not need or want refuge you can contact Reading Borough Council’s Housing Advice Service for further options, including housing in the Private Rented Sector. You can contact the team using the methods below:

Telephone: 0118 937 2165

I’m not a UK National, can I still get help?

If you are not a UK National and do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, your legal rights may be more limited in some areas.

However, you do have the right to live free from domestic abuse and have the same rights to protection from the law as everyone else.

Find out more about support for non-UK nationals.

What support can my children get?

BWA provides specialised group sessions, and one-to-one sessions if necessary, for children identified as living with domestic abuse.

BWA and Reading Borough Council also run the Family Choices Project.

Find out more about how domestic abuse affects children.

Will social services take my children away if I tell someone about the abuse?

Social Services have a statutory duty to protect children, and will assess each case on an individual basis. However, there are many options available when considering the best interests of the child, and taking children into care is a last resort.

Information on refuge services available for women and their children.

I want to stay with my partner. Can I still get support?

Yes, you can. There are all sorts of reasons why a person may not be ready to leave an abusive relationship, but you can still receive support. Visit BWA for more information on support with staying with your partner. 

For specialist advice for men, please visit Men’s Advice Line.

What support can I get as a member of the LGBT+ Community?

Information about Domestic Abuse in LGBT+ relationships.

Support U  are a leading LGBT+ help and support service in the Thames Valley.  Find out more about their specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence support.

Referrals to the service can be made through their website or call them on 0118 321 9111 between 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. If a third party would like to get in touch, they can also contact Support U through the website and request a referral form.

What support can I get if I decide to prosecute?

Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Services are available to support you through the court process. If you report the abuse to the Police (999 for emergencies or 101 for non-emergencies), then they can advise you on the next steps and locate an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser.

How can I support a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic abuse?

Advice on how to support someone who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

What is a MARAC meeting and how are people picked for one?

An outline of MARAC and the cases they cover.

Further Advice

Last updated on 02/02/2023