Victims and survivors of domestic abuse

This page is for anyone who is or has been subjected to abuse, or feel they may be at risk, or has a friend or family member, who is being subjected to (or at risk of), abuse.

On this site you will find information about different types of abuse including, domestic, sexual, honour based abuse, forced marriage and female gential mutilation (FGM). There are links to services that can provide help, whatever your age, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status or any other factors that you may be concerned about.

Domestic abuse does not always result in violence but it's still against the law and help is available for you.

It may not be obvious that behaviour is abusive. Domestic abuse can also occur between parents and children, siblings, or other family members (it's not just about those in an intimate relationship).

Domestic abuse can often start with a small incident, which you may dismiss, however, a pattern develops with different events that gradually chip away at your confidence over time. It can make you feel that you are losing your “sense of self.” Victims have often described being made to see, think or do things the abusers way. Perhaps you have started to change the way you do things so as not to upset your partner? If you are worried about how your partner/family member is making you feel, then talking to someone can help. It can often be difficult to judge when you're in the relationship if the behaviour is "normal," talking things through with a trained professional can really help. They won't judge and they won't force you to make decisions you're not comfortable with. You are in control.

If you have concerns about your relationship with your partner then you have the right to ask the police if they have previous history of domestic abuse. This is know as Clare's Law. If you want to make an application under Clare's law then you will need to contact West Midlands Police or fill in the online form. If you live outside the West Midlands then you must apply to the police force in your area. If you are not sure who your police force are visit https://www.police.uk where you can enter your postcode and check.

Abuse can take many forms:

Mental and Emotional Abuse

  • Criticising you
  • Mocking you
  • Swearing and shouting at you
  • Telling you that you are fat/ugly/worthless/useless
  • Telling you that you are mad
  • Blaming you for everything that happens
  • Telling you that you are not being abused
  • Saying that no one will believe you
  • Following you or stalking you
  • Turning up unexpectedly at your workplace or other places

Threats

Your partner/family member may threaten to:

  • Take your children away
  • Have your children removed by Social Care
  • Have you deported
  • Have you sectioned
  • Abuse or hurt your children, family, friends or pets
  • Kill you or someone close to you
  • Commit suicide
  • Mutilate you or your loved ones
  • Stalk you

Threats can be in person or via phone calls, emails, text messages or social networking sites.

Isolation

Your partner/family member may try to isolate you from other people. This can include:

  • Restricting or preventing you having contact with family and friends
  • Humiliating you in front of others
  • Telling your family or freinds lies about you
  • Giving you a curfew
  • Locking you in the house
  • Stopping or monitoring your phone calls
  • Reading your texts and emails
  • Contacting you frequently whilst you are out asking what time you will be home

Harassment

You may experience being harassed by your partner/family member. This can include:

  • Being followed or stalked
  • Leaving unwanted gifts on your doorstep
  • Following you at your workplace/college or when you are out with friends
  • Being denied any privacy
  • Escorting you everywhere or ensuring that a family member escorts you to places
  • Keeping track of you through your mobile phone/ GPRS/ social networking sites. 

Psychological abuse

It is possible that you may be on the receiving end of:

  • Jealousy
  • Blame for the abuse
  • Lying
  • Accusing you of having affairs
  • Being told that you are causing this siutation by your behaviour

Your partner/family member may:

  • Manipulate you
  • Ignore you
  • Undermine or try to confuse you
  • Tell you that you are losing your mind (gaslighting)

Economic abuse

If you are experiencing economic abuse your partner / family member may:

  • Build debt up in your name
  • Withold money from you
  • Steal money from you
  • Limit or prevent access to money
  • Not let you work or restrict the hours you work
  • Using family money for alcohol/drugs/gambling or other activities
  • Claim and keep benefits
  • Sell your possessions
  • Not pay child support
  • Refuse to pay bills
  • Force you to earn money for them / another person
  • Threaten to report you to the Benefits Agency or other authorities
  • Prevent you from having any financial independence

Coercive Control

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food, toiletry or sanitary products, clean clothing, footwear, medical care, sleep
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or intimidating you (without actual physical violence)

Sexual abuse

Your partner may ask you to do sexual things in return for your basic needs and requirements. In a relationship, if you do not want to have sex, you do not have to. If you are forced, you are being abused.

Some forms of sexual abuse can include:

  • Rape
  • Forcing you to engage in sexual acts
  • Degrading treatment
  • Sexual name-calling
  • Forcing you to prostitute yourself
  • Making you wear clothes that you haven’t chosen
  • Forcing you to take part in or look at pornographic images
  • Forcing you to have sexual relationships with other people
  • Using your sexuality to degrade you/ threatening to “out “you

Sexual abuse of any form is never right. If you have been sexually abused then talking to someone can help. There is a specialist service for those in Coventry who have experienced sexual abuse. If you have been raped there is a sexual assualt referral centre (SARC) based at George Eliot Hospital called the Blue Sky Centre you can contact either of these organisations for help and advice without contacting the police. 

Physical abuse

Violence and physical abuse can be directed at you, or at your family, friends or pets.

You may experience your partner / family member:

  • Hitting / punching / kicking / shoving you
  • Spitting at or on you
  • Strangling you
  • Pulling your hair
  • Making angry or physical threats towards you
  • Biting you
  • Drowning you
  • Burning you
  • Using weapons on you
  • Forcing you to use drugs and / or alcohol
  • Depriving you of sleep
  • Hurting your pet
  • Invading your space

Physical abuse is often followed by the abuser being apologetic, extremely upset and promising that it will never happen again. Sadly, for the victim, the abuser will almost certainly repeat this behaviour. Abusers tend to follow a pattern of behaviour. Help is available to abusers who are motivated to change their behaviour (Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programmes) and there are a number of programmes run across the West Midlands. There is another section of this site which deals with seeking help if you think you are abusing your partner.

Forced marriage and “honour” based abuse

Forced marriage is a form of domestic violence and abuse. In Europe, most reported honour killings occur in South Asian, Turkish or Kurdish migrant communities. However, there have been cases in the UK, Brazil, Italy and America where the perpetrators were from Roman Catholic or Irish Traveller backgrounds (Chesler, 2010). Honour based violence affects both men and women. 

  • It happens when your family force you to marry someone when you do not consent. Demands to accept a marriage proposal can be accompanied by physical, mental or emotional pressure and violence.
  • There is a difference between a forced and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages the families of both parties take a leading role in arranging the marriage, but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with you.
  • Refusing to marry can sometimes place you at risk of murder known as “honour killing”, where a person is killed for actual or perceived immoral behaviour, which is deemed to have breached the honour code of a family or community.
  • Parents who force their children to marry often justify their behaviour as protecting their children, building stronger families and preserving cultural or religious traditions. They do not see anything wrong in their actions. However forced marriage cannot be justified on religious grounds.

You may find it extremely difficult to speak out about your family members if they are trying to force you to marry, as you may be worried about being rejected by your family or community. However you have a right to choose who you want to marry. If you are worried about forced marriage then talking to someone can help.

Further information is available at: https://forcedmarriage.campaign.gov.uk/

FGM

Female Gential Mutilation or FGM is illegal. It is considered a form of child abuse. For more information, help and support visit the NHS website. Locally, Coventry Haven Women's Aid provide a service to those affected by FGM. 

For information on free FGM training and the specialist support services we offer at Coventry Haven Women's Aid, please email ssullivan@coventryhaven.co.uk or call on 024 7644 4077.  

There is a Friendship Group, held every Friday from 10am - 12 noon at the Central Library, Smithford Way, Coventry CV1 1FY, please contact Nene on 024 7644 4077 or by email on nojoawo@coventryhaven.co.uk.

If you are or have been affected by any of the behaviours described then help is available. Many people suffer in silence and don't seek help or think that it will get better on it's own. It won't. In Coventry domestic abuse is everyones business. Help and support is available. Your concerns will always be taken seriously and your safety will be prioritised.

Sexual Abuse 

Sexual abuse is sexual behavior or a sexual act forced upon a woman, man or child without their consent. Sexual abuse includes abuse of a woman, man or child by a man, woman or child. Sexual abuse may form part of an abusive relationship and be used alongside other types of abuse.

  • Having sex without someone without their consent is rape. It doesn't matter if you are married- if you didn't consent to having sex on that occassion, then it's rape.
  • Sexual assault or violence can take many forms, and can affect anyone at any time and place.
  • More often than not, the rapist or assailant is known to their victim, and may be their partner or spouse.
  • The Police have specially trained officers to respond to sexual violence and support victims throughout the criminal justice process (if that is how you wish to proceed).
  • You can report rape or sexual assualt/abuse to the Police anonymously, or on behalf of someone else.
  • Forensic evidence can still be gathered up to 7 days after a rape, although the sooner it is retrieved, the better chance of securing evidence against the offender.

The NHS can provide a range of sexual health services following a rape or sexual assault, including emergency contraception, HIV prevention, and treatment for infections or injuries. Our local centre is based at George Eliot Hospital and is known as the Blue Sky Centre. If you are a victim of seuxal abuse in Coventry then help is available. If the incident has happened very recently (within the past 24 hours) then forensic evidence gathering may be possible. You can contact either the Police directly or the Blue Sky Centre. The Blue Sky Centre is a modern facility specially equipped to accommodate anyone who has experienced a sexual assult or rape. Please visit their webiste for more information on the services available and how to contact them. No-one can force you to go through the criminal justice process, but evidence can be gathered and securely stored, should you change your mind further down the line. The Blue Sky Centre can help you come to the right decision without pressure.

If you don’t want to report to the Police, you can still be supported by specialist services including by an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA). The ISVA service in Coventry is provided by Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC). It offers free and confidential  support and information to anyone from the age of 5 years old who has been affected by sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened. Support is also available to parents, partners, supporters and professionals. The incident may have happened recently or many years ago, CRASAC can still help.

People who have been raped or sexually abused have choices about what happens to them every step of the way once they have made initial contact with the Police, NHS, or third sector organisations. You will not be forced to go to court if you report an incident.

Services are available to all Coventry residents, or those with a significant connection to Coventry.

If you are not a Coventry resident then local services may be able to put you in touch with a service in your local area.

Domestic abuse

Call the Safe to Talk helpline Freephone 0800 111 4998 Open from 8.30am to 5.30pm week days and 10am to 1pm at weekends.

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Supported accommodation

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To make a referral or find out more information please contact: Referral Line : 0800 328 9084 (24/7) Email : referrals@valleyhouse.org.uk

 

Sexual Violence/Abuse

Coventry Rape and Sexual Assault Centre

 

 

 

CRASAC Helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm and Monday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm. 02476 277777

The Blue Sky Centre Tel:08009700370 George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, College Street, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV10 7DJ.

Honour based violence, Forced Marriage and FGM

Coventry Haven Women's Aid

  • Helpline - support, signposting, advice and information 02476 444077 (Monday - Friday 9am-4.30pm)

  • The Listening Post - Our "women only" Centre and Drop-in - Open Access 10am-2pm Monday and Wednesday (no appointment or referral needed)