Domestic abuse is: 'Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.' It can include harassment, forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation.
Domestic abuse occurs across all of society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth or geography.
If you are worried about someone potentially finding out that you have visited this website and you would like to cover your tracks, there is some advice about how to do that which you can find by scrolling down to the Support section.
Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off event and controlling and abusive behaviour maybe ongoing. This chain of events needs to be broken. There are many services available to help break the chain, details of some organisations who are working to achieve this are listed below.
Who can use it?
An adult is defined as any person aged 18 years and over and family members are defined as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws or step family. The definition has been widened to incorporate abuse by family members as well as between adults who are, or were, intimate partners.
What can I do if I think it is happening to a friend?
For people suffering domestic abuse, the support of a trusted friend can be invaluable. It is important that the person knows you believe them and that they are not alone. Try not to judge or blame either party. Encourage your friend to contact one of the agencies who can help. If you witness an assault, phone the police. Do not intervene physically.
Remember, the police take domestic abuse very seriously and they do have powers to act.
Don't suffer in silence - there is help available.
In addition to the police, there are specialist organisations which can offer support and practical advice. Their services are confidential, and in many cases, completely free. Useful numbers are available in the Directories section of the Somerset Survivors website.
In an emergency always dial 999
The Domestic Abuse FreeFone Support Line (DAFFS) 0800 69 49 999 is a single point of contact for free and confidential advice and support to any person concerned about domestic abuse in the Avon and Somerset area.
The Somerset Survivors website provides information, help and support for anyone affected by domestic abuse in Somerset, including a Directory of local and national services.
National Domestic Violence Helpline
0808 2000 247
The 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline is for women experiencing physical, emotional or sexual violence in the home. The Helpline is a member of Language Line and can provide access to an interpreter for non-English speaking callers. The Helpline can also access the BT Type Talk Service for deaf callers. They provide advice, information and support. Callers can be referred to local refuges and emergency and temporary accommodation on. This line is free, confidential and open 24 hours a day. Alternatively visit the Women's Aid website or Refuge website.
Men's Advice Line and Enquires (MALE)
0808 801 0327
MALE is a Home Office supported advice and support service for men in abusive relationships.
0300 999 5428
Helpline offering support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experiencing domestic abuse. Mondays 2.00pm to 8.00pm; 10.00am to 1.00pm; Thursdays 2.00pm to 8.00pm.
0808 808 8141
Action On Elder Abuse operates in the UK and Ireland and is a confidential freefone helpline for anyone concerned in any way about the abuse of older people. Phone line is open every weekday from 9.00am to 5.00pm.
Victim Support (Somerset)
Offer support and signposting for all victims of crime including domestic abuse.
Victim Support (National)
0845 30 30 900
National Domestic Violence Helpline
0808 2000 247
NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) Helpline
0808 800 5000
Website offering support for children and young people living with domestic abuse.
Police Domestic Abuse Unit
Forced Marriage Unit
0207 088 0151
Confidential advice and assistance to those who have been forced into marriage.
For victims of Domestic Abuse
In an emergency phone 999
Couples counselling is not recommended and could be dangerous. It is best to speak to a specialist service such as Somerset Change or Victim Support.
To speak to a Somerset Change worker, phone the DAFFS (Domestic Abuse Freephone Support) helpline (0800 69 49 999) and select option 4. If no one can answer your call, leave a number and a safe time to call and they will get back to you.
You can get other local services by using the DAFFS phone line, which recognises the area the caller comes from. However, 'option 2' gives different options across Somerset reflecting local service provision.
For more information and to find out what services are available, please visit Somerset Survivors website.
For perpetrators of Domestic Abuse
Anger management is not recommended and could be dangerous.
For men who want help to change their controlling behaviour, Somerset Change offers a voluntary, behavioural change group work programme.
It encourages men to take responsibility for their behaviour and understand the impact on their partner and children.
For more information, phone Somerset Change Perpetrator Programme on 01823 282106 or Respect on 0845 122 8609
Cover my Tracks
If you are worried about someone potentially finding out that you have visited this website, please read the following safety information.
How can an abuser discover your internet activities?
As a general rule, all internet browsers will save certain information as you browse the internet. This includes images from the websites you visit, information entered into search engine websites and also a history (trail) of every individual site that you have visited.
To minimise the chances of somebody finding out about your internet activities, you can clear this saved information from your computer. If you know what internet browser you are using, please skip to the relevant instructions below. If you do not know this information, click on the 'Help' option situated on the toolbar at the top of this browser window. From here, a drop down menu will appear and the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using; you should then refer to the relevant instructions below.
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK. Click on Delete Files, put a tick in the box labeled Delete all offline content and click OK. Under History, click on Clear History and then OK. Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. Click on the Clear button next to Cache and Saved Form Information.
Click on Tools and then Preferences. Click on the Advanced tab and then the History section on the left-hand side. Click the two Clear buttons and the Empty Now button.
Deleting Your Browsing History
Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as a 'history' or 'trail'. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox, hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that say www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk or www.somerset.gov.uk, right click and then choose Delete.
If somebody sends you threatening or harassing email messages, these can be printed and saved as evidence of such abuse. Any emails that you have previously sent should be stored in your 'Sent Items' folder.
If you started an email but didn't finish it, you may find it in your 'Drafts' folder. If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message; print and delete the email if you don't want anyone to see your original message.
When you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, AOL, for example) it normally does not permanently delete the item; instead, it moves the item to a folder called 'Deleted Items'. You have to then delete these items separately. To do this, right-click on the email items within the 'Deleted Items' folder and choose the option to 'Delete', 'Permanently Delete', or similar.
Toolbars in your internet browser, such as Google, AOL and Yahoo, keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose 'Clear Search History"'
If you do not use a password to log onto your computer, another person may well be able to access your email and track your internet usage. The safest way to find information on the internet would be at a local library, a friend's house or at work.
All of the above information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the internet would be at a local library, a friend's house or at work.