* Please Read the Important Sensitive Information below
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, regardless of gender or sexuality."
All forms of domestic abuse - psychological, economic, emotional and physical - come from the abuser's desire for power and control over their partner.
Any person can experience domestic abuse regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, gender, disability or lifestyle.
Domestic abuse can also take place in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships.
* Sensitive Information
As a rule internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes information from websites that you have visited. There are some things you can do to help cover your tracks but we cannot detail everything as each system and each computer is different.
What we can suggest is that you will need to ‘clean’ your computer after visiting this site by deleting your browsers history and cache. This will not get rid of all the information but it is the most important thing to do as a priority.
To find out how to do this you can look in the ‘help’ menu of your browser programme or search on Google as there are plenty of step by step guides online to show you how to do this.
How do I know if I am suffering from domestic abuse?
Everyone has arguments, and everyone disagrees with their partners, family members, and others close to them from time to time. And we all do things at times which we regret, and which cause unhappiness to those we care about. But if this begins to form a consistent pattern, then it is an indication of domestic abuse. The following questions may help you:
• has your partner tried to keep you from seeing your friends or family?
• does your partner constantly check up on you or follow you?
• are you ever afraid of your partner?
• has your partner ever destroyed any of your possessions deliberately?
has your partner ever kept you short of money so you are unable to buy food and other necessary items for yourself and your children?
does your partner blame his use of alcohol/drugs for their behaviour?
does your partner blame stress or depression for their behaviour?
If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, this indicates that you may be experiencing domestic abuse.
1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Less than half of all incidents are reported. Police receive one domestic
violence call every minute in the UK
11,310 women and 8330 children were being supported in England in one day
Domestic abuse support has increased by 50% since 2003
What is the service and who can get support?
The Domestic Abuse Support Service can provide practical and emotional support if you have, or are, experiencing domestic abuse, whether or not you choose to leave your partner. We offer support to anyone over the age of 16 regardless of your gender, sexuality or ethnicity, for a maximum period of 2 years. The support we offer is based upon what you feel will help you to move forward.
We can support you whether you own your home or live in a rented property as well as if you are living temporarily with friends or family.
You will have your own designated support worker who will visit you on a regular basis to meet your support needs. These visits can be provided in your own home (only where it is safe to do so) or at an alternative safe place.
What can the domestic abuse support workers help me with?
Our support workers can:
Discuss your current housing situation and offer practical support should you decide to stay or leave.
Offer general help and advice on benefits and budgeting.
Support you with any legal options by attending any solicitor’s appointments and court visits.
Support you in accessing education and employment.
Assist you to establish social activities via specialist services.
Provide emotional support and advice to build self confidence.
Help you to stay safe. This can include personal safety advice and security measures for your home.
Work on rebuilding your independence and empowering you by enhancing your skills.
Support in a safe house:
The Domestic Abuse Support Service also has 6 safe houses within Gateshead, which can be occupied by people escaping abusive relationships. The properties have extra security measures such as panic alarms, door chains and security lighting. They provide temporary accommodation whilst more permanent accommodation is sought. We have 5 family homes and 1 single person’s property. Each property has a designated support worker who will visit you regularly offering a full package of support.
How do I receive support?
You can contact us by phone or email to arrange an initial advice appointment. You do not have to attend this appointment on your own, you can bring along a friend, member of your family or a support worker. If during this appointment you feel our service is right for you we can complete our application form with you. If you feel you are not ready for support we won’t pressure you, you can simply contact us again when you feel ready. If you are working with any other professional they can contact us and make the application on your behalf. Once received the application will be looked at by the team to make a decision on whether our service is the best one to meet your needs. We will then contact you and inform you of our decision; signposting you to another service where applicable.
What happens to my application?
The team will use a points system to prioritise your application as there is often a waiting list for the service. If we cannot support you straight away we will contact you and with your permission, may consider contacting other support agencies who can help (such as Safer Families or Victim Support).
You will be contacted on a regular basis by the team while you are waiting to be allocated one of our support worker’s. You will be informed as soon as a place becomes available and an appointment will be arranged to plan your support package.
What are the signs of domestic abuse?
What are my legal rights?
Whether or not you decide you want to leave your partner, you have a right to be protected under the law, and there are a number of legal options open to you, under both the criminal law and the civil law. The two systems are separate and are administered by separate courts:
The civil law
Is primarily aimed at protection. You can make an application for an injunction (a court order which keeps the perpetrator away from you) and/or an occupation order (a court order which forces the perpetrator to leave home). This is done through either the family proceedings court or the county court (usually through a family solicitor – see useful contacts). Other family proceedings – such as child contact or divorce - also take place in the county court.
The criminal law
Is primarily aimed at punishing the offender. The police together with the Crown Prosecution Service start the process. Criminal cases are heard in either the magistrates’ court or the Crown Court depending on the seriousness of the charge.
What security measures can I have in the home?
If you are suffering from domestic abuse but want to stay in your own home the Sanctuary Scheme can make it possible for you to remain there. The scheme makes your home safer by installing the security measures you feel will help you to feel safe. It is a free scheme that is tailored to your needs and personal circumstances. Examples of some security measures that can be offered are; new door locks, security lights, window locks, window film, a door viewer and a smoke alarm.
You would not have to move house.
Your children would not have to move to another school.
You would not need to move away from your family and friends.
Who is this scheme for?
To be considered for the scheme you must live in Gateshead and must not live with the person who is abusing you. You can apply to the scheme if you own your own home or if you rent a property from a private landlord or a housing association. We do not offer the scheme to Gateshead Housing Company tenants – if this is the case please refer to information below for who you should contact)
If you own your own home jointly with the perpetrator, you will need to seek legal advice. No work can be carried out on a property where the perpetrator has a legal right to occupy. You may need to seek an occupation order.
To apply to the Sanctuary Scheme or find out more information simply contact the Domestic Abuse Housing Support Service on 0191 433 2622.
What if I live in a Gateshead Housing Company Tenancy?
If you live in a Gateshead Housing Company tenancy you can contact your Local Housing Office or the Neighbourhood Relations Team on 0191 433 5327. They will discuss with you the additional security measures that are available to their tenants who are at risk of Domestic Abuse.
What do I do if I need to leave home?
If you feel that the best option for you is to leave your home you can arrange an appointment to see a member of the Housing Options Team. You can do this by contacting a member of their reception staff on 0191 433 2448 or 0191 433 2616, they will ask you to leave your name, a safe contact number and/or a safe contact address. A member of the Housing Options Team will then phone you back to discuss your options and/or arrange an appointment for you to come into the office to speak to them.
What are my temporary housing options?
If you need to leave your home urgently the Housing Options Team will look at the following options available to you.
Women’s Refuges - these are temporary housing projects suitable for single women and those with children. There are Support Workers on site.
Safe House – Suitable for male or female victims. These are independent living properties with a support worker visiting you on a weekly basis. Properties are fully furnished and fitted with additional security measures.
Staying with Friends or Family - If you decide that supported accommodation is not for you then you may want to consider if there are any friends or family members who you trust that you can stay with.
You may wish to consider a private tenancy as this can sometimes offer a quicker route to more permanent housing. The Housing Options Team can supply you with details of accredited landlords. There is a bond scheme available in which you may be able to apply for the Housing Options Team to pay for a bond should this be required.
What are my longer term housing options?
Whether or not you chose to go into temporary accommodation the Housing Options Team will start to assess your longer term housing needs. You will be invited in for an appointment to gather more information and start the process of considering your circumstances for priority housing need. It is good practice that this assessment will be completed within 33 working days.
Council Tenants (The Gateshead Housing Company):
If you are already a Gateshead Housing Company tenant you will be granted priority (contact Housing options Team). You will then be able to bid for advertised properties. Your situation will be reviewed approximately every 12 weeks.
All other tenants and owner occupiers:
If you are renting your current property from another housing association, a private landlord or you own your own home there are two means by which you can be housed if your application is successful:
Prevention Priority –You will be able to bid for advertised properties. Your situation will be reviewed approximately every 12 weeks
Homeless Priority – You will be offered a management move. This restricts your choice as you will not be able to bid for properties. You will be offered a property anywhere within the Gateshead area. If this option is available to you it is important that you advise the Housing Options Officer at the initial interview of anywhere it is unsafe for you to reside i.e. where the perpetrator and/or their family and friends reside.
Both of these options will be discussed with you fully during your initial assessment. You will be consulted with which option you feel will be best for your situation.
What if I have any housing related debt (i.e. rent arrears) or a history of anti – social behaviour?
If this is the case then you will automatically be given Homeless priority if your assessment is successful.
How do I make a Safety Plan?
A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.
You cannot stop your partner's abuse: only they can do that. But there are things you can do to increase your own and your children's safety.
You’re probably already doing some things to protect yourself and your children – for example, there may be a pattern to the violence, which may enable you to plan ahead to increase your safety.
Plan in advance how you might respond in different situations, including crisis situations.
Think about the different options that may be available to you.
Keep with you any important and emergency telephone numbers - e.g. your local Women's Aid refuge organisation or other domestic abuse service; the police domestic violence unit; your GP; your social worker, if you have one; your children's school; your solicitor; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge: 0808 2000 247. (See our useful contacts list)
Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency, and what they would need to say; e.g. their full name, address and telephone number.
Is there a neighbour you could trust, and where you could go in an emergency? If so, you might want to tell them what is going on, and ask them to call the police if they hear sounds of a violent attack.
Rehearse an escape plan, so in an emergency you and the children can get away safely.
Pack an emergency bag for yourself your children, and hide it somewhere safe - e.g. at a neighbour's or friend's house. Try to avoid mutual friends or family. (There are some suggestions below for what you need to take with you when you leave).
Try to keep a small amount of money on you at all times – including change for the phone and for bus fares.
Know where the nearest phone is – and if you have a mobile phone, try to keep it with you.
If you suspect that your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower risk area of the house - for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone. Avoid the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons; and avoid rooms where you might be trapped - such as the bathroom - or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
Be prepared to leave the house in an emergency.
Set a secret code with someone that you trust. This can be a random word or sentence that if said over the phone or by text would alert the person on the other end of the phone that they need to call the police without making the perpetrator aware.
How do I prepare to leave?
Whatever plans you have used – with more or less success - there may come a time when you feel the only option is to leave your partner.
If you do decide to leave your partner, it is best if you can plan this carefully.
Sometimes abusers will increase any violence and abuse if they suspect you are thinking of leaving, and will continue to do so after you have left, so this can be a particularly dangerous time for you. It’s important to remember that ending the relationship will not necessarily end the abuse.
Plan to leave at a time you know your partner will not be around. Try to take everything you will need with you - including any important documents relating to yourself and your children - as you may not be able to return later. Take your children with you - otherwise it may be difficult or impossible to have them living with you in future. If they are at school, make sure that the head teacher and all your children's teachers know what the situation is, and who will be collecting the children in future.
Thinking about leaving and making the decision to leave can be a long process. Planning it doesn't mean you have to carry it through immediately - or at all. But it may help to be able to consider all the options, and how you could overcome the difficulties involved. If at all possible, try to set aside a small amount of money each week, or even open a separate bank account.
What to pack if you are planning to leave your partner?
Ideally, you need to take all the following items with you if you leave. Some of these items you can try to keep with you at all times; others you may be able to pack in your "emergency bag".
Some form of identification.
Birth certificates for you and your children.
Passports (including passports for all your children), visas and work permits.
Money, bankbooks, cheque book and credit and debit cards. Keys for house, car and place of work. (You could get an extra set of keys cut, and put them in your emergency bag.)
Cards for payment of Child Benefit and any other welfare benefits you are entitled to.
Driving licence (if you have one) and car registration documents, if applicable.
Copies of documents relating to your housing tenure, e.g. mortgage details or lease and rental agreements.
Insurance documents, including national insurance number.
Family photographs, your diary, jewellery, small items of sentimental value.
Clothing and toiletries for you and your children.
Your children’s favourite small toys.
You should also take any documentation relating to the abuse - e.g. police reports, court orders such as injunctions and restraining orders, and copies of medical records if you have them.