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Domestic Abuse

Help and support for those experiencing domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is any single incident, course of conduct or pattern of abusive behaviour between individuals aged 16 or over who are 'personally connected' to each other as a result of being, or having been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Children who see, hear or experience the effects of the abuse and are related to either of the parties are also considered victims of domestic abuse.

Behaviour is 'abusive' if it consists of any of the following:

  • physical or sexual abuse
  • violent or threatening behaviour
  • controlling or coercive behaviour
  • economic abuse
  • psychological, emotional or other abuse

This includes incidences where the abusive party directs their behaviour at another person (a child, for example).  Economic abuse means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on someone's ability to acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or obtain goods or services.

The definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so-called 'honour'-based abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

The full legal definition of domestic abuse can be found in Part 1 of the Domestic Abuse Act.


West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Service

Berkshire Women's Aid (BWA) is the specialist Domestic Abuse Service for West Berkshire as of 1 April 2023. BWA provide emotional and practical support to all people experiencing domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.

BWA offer:

  • a 24/7 helpline: 0808 801 0882
  • refuge accommodation
  • outreach/Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) support
  • a dedicated worker in the Council's Contact, Advice and Assessment Service within Children's Services
  • safety planning
  • financial, legal, housing and other advice

Calls to this helpline are free from landlines and mobile phones within the UK and do not appear on itemised bills.

If you are a professional and concerned about someone, please complete the Icon for doc BWA Referral Form 2023 [58KB] and and send to BWA using the email address provided on the form.

To find out more about the BWA, please read the Icon for pdf West Berkshire BWA Services Leaflet [550KB] ;Icon for pdf Refuge Accommodation Leaflet [338KB]   and Icon for pdf Outreach Leaflet [384KB]


How to call the police when you can't speak

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and listen to the questions from the operator and, if you can, respond by coughing or tapping on the handset.

Press 55 to Make Yourself Heard (PDF, 348KB) if you are unable to speak on the phone and this will transfer your call to the police.

Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.


If you are deaf or can't use a phone

You can register with the emergencySMS. Text REGISTER to 999. You will get a text which tells you what to do next. Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger.



West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Strategy

West Berkshire Council and partners have a vision for individuals, families and children to live freely from domestic abuse. The Icon for pdf West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Strategy [978KB]  details the targets and aims implemented in West Berkshire to address domestic abuse and encourages effective action to support those experiencing, or affected by, domestic abuse.

West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy

Our Icon for pdf Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy 2021-23 [903KB]  has been developed following the passing of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 which placed new duties on West Berkshire Council. Part 4 of the Act refers to the Delivery of Support to Victims of Domestic Abuse, including Children, in Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Services.

The strategy has been produced following a robust local needs assessment and full public consultation to determine the level of need for support within safe accommodation in West Berkshire. This will sit alongside our existing Domestic Abuse Strategy until combined in 2023/24.

The strategy is ambitious and sets out our plans to achieve the changes required that will enable victims and their children to achieve safe, fulfilled and independent lives free from domestic abuse.

Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse

Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse work in partnership with us to provide information, advice, training and resources to professionals supporting those affected by domestic abuse. The Reducing the Risk website also includes practical information for victims or survivors of domestic abuse and their family and friends seeking to support them.

Additional Support Services


National domestic abuse helpline - Telephone helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 0808 200 0247

Men's Advice Line - Telephone helpline is available Monday to Friday from 9am, closing times vary: 0808 801 0327. Webchat is available on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10am-11am and 3pm-4pm via their website.

Flag DV - Offers free legal advice for victims of domestic abuse. An online referral form can be completed via their website.

Karma Nirvana - Supports victims of forced marriage and 'honour'-based abuse. Telephone helpline is available from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm: 0800 5999 247. If safe to do so, you can also email


Check whether someone has an abusive past

If you are concerned that a new, former or existing partner has an abusive past, you can ask the police to check under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as 'Clare's Law'). This is your 'right to ask'. If records show that you may be at risk of domestic abuse, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.

If you are concerned about a friend or family member, you can apply for a disclosure on behalf of someone you know.

You can make a request to the police for information about a person's previous violent offending in person at the police station or elsewhere, by telephone, by email, online or as part of a police investigation. Support agencies and services can also help you ask the police about this.


Get help if you think you might be an abuser

If you are concerned about your behaviour or the behaviour of someone you know, there is support available.

The Respect Phoneline is an anonymous and confidential helpline for men and women who are abusing their partners and families. Telephone helpline is available from 9am - 8pm, Monday to Friday: 0808 802 4040. The helpline also takes calls from partners or ex-partners, friends and relatives who are concerned about perpetrators.

Webchat is available Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10am-11am and 3pm-4pm via the following link


Further Information

The following organisations, sites and pages share up to date information, resources, awareness campaigns and progress in respect of domestic abuse:

Please note West Berkshire Council does not endorse nor accept any liability for, the content of these pages and sites.

You can also visit our webpage about housing advice and options for people affected by domestic abuse, here.


Bright Sky is a mobile app and website for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or who is worried about someone else. The app can be downloaded for free from the app stores. Only download the app if it is safe for you to do so and if you are sure that your phone isn't being monitored.

Ask for ANI codeword - If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need immediate help, ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately) in participating pharmacies.

When you ask for ANI, you will be offered a private space, provided with a phone and asked if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.

To find your nearest participating provider, search using the postcode checker on the Ask for Ani page on the Enough website.

Safe Spaces - Ask for ANI is delivered in partnership with Safe Spaces, a safe and confidential room where victims can take some time to reflect, access information on specialist support services or call friends or family.

Safe Spaces are also available in Boots, Morrisons, Superdrug and Well pharmacies, TSB banks and independent pharmacies across the UK. Find your nearest Safe Space.

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