Domestic Violence/Abuse, (Dis)Honour Abuse and Forced Marriage

Domestic Violence /Abuse

One woman in three (and one man in five) in the UK will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime, according to research estimates. Two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.

Domestic violence and abuse 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". It's abuse if a partner, ex-partner or a family member:

Key Principles

The following are some key principles to remember when encountering service users that may have been victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Abuse.

The following page is guidance on “Asking the Question” taken from:

Asking the question – A Guide

Ensure it is safe to ask

  1. Consider the environment:

    • Is it conducive to ask?
    • Is it safe to ask?
    • Never ask in the presence of another family member, friend, or child over the age of 2 years (or any other persons including a partner)
  2. Create the opportunity to ask the question.

  3. Use an appropriate professional interpreter (never a family member).

Frame the topic first then ask a direct question.


“As violence and abuse in the home are so common we now ask contacts about it routinely”

Direct Question:

“Are you in a relationship with someone who hurts, threatens or abuses you?” Did someone cause these injuries to you?”

Validate what’s happening to the individual and send important messages to the contact:

Assess contacts safety:

Be aware of your local domestic violence agency, how to contact local independent domestic violence advisor (IDVA), offer leaflet and suggest referral.
Action any local safeguarding procedures.

Consider safety and confidentiality when recording information in patient notes. (not in service user held record).
Medical records can be used by survivors in future criminal justice proceedings.

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)

Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision or cutting) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It has no medical benefits and causes severe pain and has several immediate and long term health consequences.

Seven Key Facts about FGM

  1. It’s illegal in the UK as is taking anyone out of the UK for the procedure.

  2. It is prevalent in 28 African countries as well as in parts of the Middle East and Asia.

  3. Approximately 137,000 women and children resident in England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM.

  4. Over 60,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year.

  5. It constitutes a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls, and has severe short-term and long-term physical and psychological consequences.

  6. The procedure may be carried out when the girl is newborn, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage or during the first pregnancy. However, the majority of cases of FGM are thought to take place between the ages of 5 and 8 and therefore girls within that age bracket are at a higher risk.

  7. It’s practiced by families for a variety of complex reasons but often in the belief that it is beneficial for the girl or woman.

In all cases: If you are worried about a child under 18 who is at risk of FGM or has had FGM, you have a legal obligation to share this information with social care and/or the police. Professionals must also consider the risks to other girls and women who may be related to or living with an individual with FGM as it is an inter-generational practice, their girls and young women may also be at significant risk of harm.

If your are concerned about an individual, please contact Safeguarding Lead (Child or Adult).

Forced Marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is illegal in Great Britain. It is recognised as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

A marriage must be entered into with the free and full consent of both parties; you should feel you have a choice. The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor.

In some case people may be taken abroad without knowing that they are to be married. When they arrive in that country, their passport(s)/travel documents may be taken to try to stop them from returning to the UK.

There are many different ways individuals may come to the attention of health professionals. For example, they may present to:

If you have concerns, contact your local Safeguarding Lead for advice.

National Helplines

National Domestic Violence Helpline
This free-phone 24- hour helpline is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

0808 2000 247

Women's Aid
This is a national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.

0808 2000 247

Men’s Advice Line
Advice and support for men experiencing Domestic abuse.

0808 801 0327

National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline.

0800 999 5428

Forced Marriage Unit
If you are worried you might be forced into marriage or are worried about a friend or relative, contact the Forced Marriage Unit.

020 7008 0151

FGM Helpline

0800 028 3550

Freedom App
Provides a source of support to potential victims of forced marriage or other abuse, and the closest friends of the victim who are in a good position to help as they see the signs of the abuse.

Safe Lives
Risk assessment for domestic violence.

Useful toolkit for any practitioners working with cases involving domestic abuse, mental health issues and substance misuse.

Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC)

Sexual assault referral centres offer medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or raped. They have specially trained doctors and counsellors to care for individuals. If an individual is considering reporting the assault to the police, they can arrange for individuals to have an informal talk with a specially trained police officer who can explain what’s involved.

Your Local SARC can be located using the following web link: