No matter who you are, or what form the abuse is taking we know that it is extremely difficult to come forward and talk about what’s happening.

But there is help available, whether you decide to speak to the police or contact one of the many organisations that are out there ready and waiting to help.

It may seem daunting, and you may not know what to expect but here is a brief introduction to some of the people and organisations you may come into contact with:

Dawn works for Next Link, a domestic abuse support service. Here she explains how to get in touch and how they can support you and your family.

You can find a list of all the support agencies in your area here: Help and Support for Domestic Abuse

If you need to leave your home because of domestic abuse you may be referred to a safe house.

Here Dawn from Next Link talks about what you can expect if you stay in one of their houses.

Alecto is a Neighbourhood Sergeant for Avon and Somerset Police. She explains what happens when you report domestic abuse to the Police.

Mike Steven is Avon and Somerset Force lead for improving services for male victims of rape and sexual abuse.

He said: “We know that many more people are living with domestic abuse than come forward to ask for help and statistically men are even less likely that women to report abuse within a relationship.

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There are many reasons for this, from fear of not being believed to being worried that speaking up means that they may lose contact with their children.  At the heart of it through is the perception that domestic abuse, whether they are in a same sex or heterosexual relationship, is not something that happens to men.

The reality is that men can be victims of any type of abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional or sexual however because of the deep-seated perception that it just doesn’t happen many men fear that they will be judged not just by us, but by their friends, family and society in general.

We want to change that perception. Any man who approaches us to report any kind of abuse will be treated with respect and dignity, and they will be believed.

Of course you don’t have to speak to us if you, there are many organisations out there that support victims of domestic abuse, for example Next Link, a domestic abuse support service has just opened a safe house specifically for men.

One organisation dedicated to supporting men affected by domestic abuse is ManKind. It offers an anonymous, confidential helpline for men suffering from domestic violence or domestic abuse by their current or former wife or partner (including same-sex partner). They can also advise on emergency housing, financial and legal matters as well as offering emotional support.  You can find out more about all the support available in your area here:

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, remember it’s not your fault, we will believe you and will be with you every step of the way.”

People in LGBT relationships may also find it harder to talk about domestic abuse. Mike says:

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“There is a perception that domestic abuse in a same sex relationship is in some way different or that it doesn’t happen at all. But that’s not the case, Stonewall’s research shows that one in four lesbian and bi women have experienced domestic abuse in a relationship. Two thirds of those say the perpetrator was a woman, a third a man. Almost half (49%) of all gay and bi men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse from a family member or partner since the age of 16.
A report by the The Scottish Transgender Alliance indicates that 80% of trans people had experienced emotional, sexual, or physical abuse from a partner or ex-partner.

I believe that there are several issues which contribute to an under-reporting, domestic abuse isn’t well recognised within the LGBT+ community, the fear of being outed (which is a method of control) and a perception that the Police will not fully understand. Those living in smaller towns or rural areas feel further isolated and find it difficult to access help.
Anyone who comes to us for help will be believed and will be offered all the help and support they need. We recognise the language we use can have a significant effect, we will never make heterosexual assumptions recognising that this could deter you from talking to us further

If you don’t want to speak to the police then there is other help available. Galop is an anti-violence charity for the LGBT+ community and offers support and advice to anyone dealing with domestic abuse. You can find out more about the support available in your area here

You don’t have to speak to us, just speak to someone.

Janine and Jo are IDVAs or Independent Violence Adviser. They offer individual support to people at risk of domestic violence. Hear more from them here:

Natalie is a MARAC representative. MARAC stands for Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference. It’s a meeting at which anyone involved in your care can discuss how best to support you and your family. Natalie explains more about the MARAC process here:

Samantha works for Lighthouse Victim Care. She talks about why you would be put in touch with them and the help they can offer:

Jargon buster:

If you do start to speak to someone about domestic abuse then you may hear lots of terms which may be unfamiliar.

If there is anything you don’t understand should always ask, but here are some of the words and phrases you may hear:

Safeguarding

Protecting vulnerable adults or children from abuse or neglect. It is about protecting you and your family from harm – keeping you safe and well.

MARAC

Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference. This is where all those involved in the care of a high risk victim of domestic abuse meet to share information and put plans in place to help ensure the safety of the victim – this could include the police, doctors, health visitors, support groups and housing providers. You cannot attend this meeting but your IDVA will be your voice at the meeting.

Disclose

This simply means to tell someone what has been happening

IDVA

Independent Domestic Violence Adviser: work with high risk victims of DA. They will be your main point of contact and their primary concern is to make sure you, and your children are safe. They will also be your representative on MARAC – which is the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (see above)

Perpetrator

This is the person who is carrying out the abuse

Coercive control

This includes 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.

Safety plan

Your IDVA or other support organisation can help you create a plan to help protect you, and any children

Advocacy

Taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services they need.

Agency

An independent organisation that provides care and support services, such as care in your own home. It is not part of your local council. The council may arrange for care and support to be provided for you by a local agency, or you can arrange this yourself.