Your web browser is outdated and may be insecure

The RCN recommends using an updated browser such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome

woman looking anxious

Domestic abuse resources and support

This page provides a selection of useful links to websites and organisations providing relevant information and support to victims of domestic abuse.

Unless specified these resources are applicable across the UK.

RCN position statement on domestic abuse

The RCN is committed to supporting nurses, midwives and health care workers to better understand the complexities that surround domestic abuse, whether it affects them personally or professionally. This statement sets out the RCN's position on domestic abuse. It defines domestic abuse and summarises the College's actions and commitments in this area.

View the RCN's position statement.

Risk assessment pathway to identify domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is a major safeguarding issue and all health care professionals have a role in increasing awareness, and being inquiring when confronted with behaviours that raise concerns and alarm, even if there is no evidence of injury. The vast majority of health care professionals will come in contact with someone who is a victim of abuse within the confines of their recognised home, and need to know what to do.

As part of the RCN's ongoing work, the project team have developed a single page pathway (PDF) which will help nurses and midwives to better understand their role when they suspect someone may be a victim of domestic abuse. Often the challenge is what to do if there is a suspicion or initial instinct that someone (patient or colleague) is at risk of /or a casualty of domestic abuse?

This pathway provides some introductory questions which may be used to initiate a conversation where there are concerns, and what to if there is an immediate risk, or less urgent risk to be managed. It also provides space to add local contacts. It is critically important, that once a suspicion has been confirmed that the health care professional knows who to contact and what needs to be done, to ensure the victim remains safe and is cared for effectively. For example, who to contact if the woman is pregnant, or has other needs. 

It is important to acknowledge the pathway is simply an overview of ways forward, and should be supplemented with ongoing safe guarding training and education.

Guidance for Nurses and Midwives to Support Those Affected by Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is a significant safeguarding issue in all societies and is a challenge for everyone. This guidance has been reviewed and updated in response to the recognition by the RCN of the need for nurses, midwives and health care support workers and all health care professionals to have an understanding of the impact of the domestic abuse of patients, clients and colleagues.

For more information, see: Domestic abuse.


Courts and Tribunals Judiciary: Domestic violence


Department of Health (2017) Domestic abuse: a resource for health professionals. This resource looks at how health professionals can support adults and young people over 16 who are experiencing domestic abuse, and dependent children in their households. It will help health staff to identify potential victims, initiate sensitive routine enquiry and respond effectively to disclosures of abuse.

Department of Health (2015) Domestic abuse: guidance and support for the armed forces community
Information and guidance for those affected by or dealing with cases of domestic abuse in the armed forces community.

Department of Health (2013) Health visiting and school nursing programmes: supporting implementation of the new service model No.5: Domestic violence and abuse – professional guidance (PDF)
This guidance aims to increase knowledge within the field and support improved integration and partnership working with others who have an interest in preventing, working in and identifying domestic violence and abuse, and supporting those affected. 
Home Office (2016) Guidance: domestic violence and abuse. This webpage provides information on domestic violence and abuse, coercive control, disclosure scheme, protection notices, domestic homicide reviews and advisers.

Home Office (2011) Call to end violence against women and girls: action plan 2011. This action plan provided an overview of the wide range of actions the government would take towards its strategy of ending violence against women and girls. (VAWG). It was launched on 8 March 2011.

Home Office (2010) Call to end violence against women and girls: strategic vision. This paper outlined the coalition government’s ambition and guiding principles to tackle violence against women and girls.

NICE Quality standard. Domestic violence and abuse (England and Wales)
. This quality standard covers domestic violence and abuse in adults and young people aged 16 years and over. It covers adults and young people who are experiencing (or have experienced) domestic violence or abuse, as well as adults and young people perpetrating domestic violence or abuse. It also covers children and young people under 16 years who are affected by domestic violence or abuse that is not directly perpetrated against them. This includes those taken into care.

NICE Domestic violence and abuse: multi-agency working (England and Wales). The recommendations cover the broad spectrum of domestic violence and abuse, including violence perpetrated on men, on those in same-sex relationships and on young people. The guidance is for health and social care commissioners, specialist domestic violence and abuse staff and others whose work may bring them into contact with people who experience or perpetrate domestic violence and abuse. In addition it may be of interest to members of the public.

Office for National Statistics (2016) Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2016. This bulletin includes details of crimes against adults, including domestic violence. Improvements in crime recording practices and processes by the police and, particularly for sexual offences and those related to domestic abuse, an increase in the willingness of victims to come forward and report, are thought to be the main drivers of this change.
See also: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) (2014) Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse. This report found significant weaknesses in the service provided to victims of domestic abuse, and made a series of recommendations aimed at helping forces to improve.

Royal College of General Practitioners (2019) Good practice safeguarding in general practice. This webpage includes a range of domestic violence resource, including guidance for general practitioners, commissioning guidance, counselling directory and e-Learning.

Northern Ireland

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Department of Justice (2016) Stopping domestic and sexual violence and abuse in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s seven year strategy for tackling domestic and sexual violence and abuse. The vision is: To have a society in Northern Ireland in which domestic and sexual violence is not tolerated in any form, effective tailored preventative and responsive services are provided, all victims are supported, and perpetrators are held to account.

SafeLives Risk Identification Checklist (PDF). To help front line practitioners identify high risk cases of domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’- based violence. To decide which cases should be referred to MARAC and what other support might be required.

SafeLives Dash risk checklist. Quick start guidance (PDF). This checklist will help you to understand the significance of the questions on the checklist. Domestic abuse can take many forms but it is usually perpetrated by men towards women in an intimate relationship such as boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife. This checklist can also be used for lesbian, gay, bisexual relationships and for situations of ‘honour’-based violence or family violence.

Women’s Aid Northern Ireland. Domestic violence statistics for Northern Ireland.


Citizen’s Advice Scotland. Information and advice for domestic abuse in Scotland.

Scottish Government. Key facts about violence against women

NHS Health Scotland (2019) Gender based Violence - Domestic abuse: What health workers need to know about gender-based violence (PDF)


Welsh Government (2022). Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence: strategy 2022 to 2026

Welsh Government (2014) Barriers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in accessing domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, and sexual violence services. This research found that LGBT people who experience domestic abuse, stalking and harassment and sexual violence may face specific barriers to accessing services. 

Welsh Government (2014) Building effective responses: An independent review of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services in Wales. This research aimed to inform the forthcoming Ending Violence Against Women and Domestic Abuse (Wales) Bill, implementation of the legislation and future policy more generally.

Welsh Government (2013) Domestic abuse of disabled women in Wales. This research highlighted that national and local policies and practices lack appropriate measures to ensure disabled women receive the appropriate level of support at the right time.

Non UK

The Advocates for Human Rights. UN Treaties on Domestic Violence. Domestic violence is recognized in international law as a violation of human rights.
WHO Guidance (2013) Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women WHO clinical and policy guidelines

Domestic Abuse Act 2021

Domestic Abuse Act 2021: overarching factsheet

Scotland Government (2018) Domestic Abuse Act 

Northern Ireland. Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (2021)

Northern Ireland. New domestic abuse offence comes into force (2022) 

Domestic violence disclosure scheme: guidance (2012) ‘Clare’s Law’. The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme or ‘Clare’s Law’ enables people to ask the police to carry out checks for a record of abusive offences on their partner or the partner of a member of their family or a friend who they believe may be at risk (for Scotland please see the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland).

Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Department of Justice (2016) Stopping domestic and sexual violence and abuse in Northern Ireland 

Parliament (2014) The Care Act (applies to England only). The Care Act replaces most of the previous laws relating to carers and the people they care for. Within The Care Act there is legislation relating to safeguarding adults at risk of abuse or neglect. 

Public Health Scotland. Domestic abuse. Key facts and further information on domestic abuse.

Scottish Parliament (2016) Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill. The Bill aims to improve how the justice system in Scotland responds to abusive behaviour including domestic abuse and sexual harm and sets out a number of new offences and provides new directions to courts and juries in cases of abuse (this applies to Scotland only). 

UK Government (2015) Serious Crime Act. Part 5: Domestic abuse. Part 5 of the Serious Crime Act defines and expands the scope of domestic abuse offences as well as updating the law around female genital mutilation (FGM) (UK wide legislation).

Welsh Government (2015) Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. The Act sets in place measures to reduce gender based violence in Wales and aims to raise awareness of domestic abuse and set our preventative measures so that professionals can recognise the signs of abuse and violence (applies to Wales only).

Guidance and legislation on female genital mutilation (FGM) can be found at the RCN’s FGM resource. Further guidance on safeguarding can is available from the RCN’s safeguarding resource.

Age UK. No age limit: the hidden face of domestic abuse. In this report, Age UK advocates legislation to change what is understood as domestic abuse and make it easier for people to recognise or report it, as well as to improve the resources available to help victims and survivors. This includes training for health care practitioners and better links between the NHS and police.

Business in the Community. Toolkit to support Employers Duty of care in preventing and tackling Domestic Abuse. Employers have an important role to play in society’s response to domestic abuse.  Employers owe a duty of care to employees and have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and effective work environment.  Preventing and tackling domestic abuse is an integral part of this and this toolkit, sponsored by The Insurance Charities offers guidance and support.

Cavell Nurses' Trust (2016) Skint, shaken, yet still caring: but who is caring for our nurses? This report shows the work that the Cavell Nurses' Trust are doing in light of the findings that nurses are nearly twice as likely as the average person to be unable to afford basic necessities and three times more likely to have experienced domestic abuse in the last year.   

NHS Employers: Domestic violence. This page looks at the financial cost of domestic violence to employers.

RCN. Healthy workplace, healthy you. The Healthy Workplace project supports health care employers and RCN workplace representatives to create good working environments with high quality employment practices. A healthy workplace must promote dignity at work; protect and promote employees’ health and safety; design jobs which provide employees with a degree of autonomy, and provide equitable access to training, learning and development opportunities.

RCN Counselling Service. As an RCN member you can get free, confidential support and assistance to help you to deal with challenging emotional issues you may face, including domestic violence. For RCN employed staff; see section 16 the RCN Supporting attendance policy.

TUC. Domestic violence and the workplace
. This survey aimed to find out more about how domestic violence affects working lives and the role that employers, colleagues and union reps can play in supporting those experiencing domestic abuse. The TUC survey was open to anyone who has either experienced domestic violence themselves or has a friend or colleague who has experienced domestic violence.

Ask for ANI

The government has launched the Ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately) codeword scheme to enable victims of domestic abuse to access immediate helpfrom the police or other support services, from the safety of their local pharmacy. For more information, see:

Agenda. Ask and take action: Why public services must ask about domestic abuse. This report finds public services are failing women by not asking about domestic abuse.

Cavell Nurses' Trust. The Cavell Nurses’ Trust charity supports UK nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, both working and retired, when they’re suffering personal or financial hardship often due to illness, disability, older age, domestic abuse and the impact of the coronavirus. 

Cochrane Library. Psychological therapies for women who experience intimate partner violence. This review assesses the effects of psychological interventions in comparison to usual care, no treatment, delayed provision of psychological interventions and minimal interventions.

Coercive Control. This website is for social workers and other health and social care practitioners to develop their knowledge and skills in working with situations of coercive control.

Dheensa, S (2020) Recording and sharing information about domestic violence/abuse in the health service. Research report and good practice recommendations for healthcare.

Domestic Abuse Alliance. The Domestic Abuse Alliance provides access to immediate legal support for anyone experiencing abuse. The free-to-use WEPROTECT app has been developed in partnership with police and domestic abuse support service providers ensuring that anyone referred to the Domestic Abuse Alliance will benefit from instant legal assistance so that the relevant legal protection can be actioned without delay. 

Future Learn. Identifying and Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in Pregnancy. Free online course.

Hidden Hurt. This website provides advice and information on domestic abuse.

Karma Nirvana. Karma Nirvana is a dedicated charity, providing support and training to help prevent forced 
marriages and honour based abuse within the UK and beyond.

Live Fear Free.This Welsh website provides advice on domestic abuse, sexual violence and violence against women.

Living without abuse. Living without abuse provides support to anyone experiencing or fearing violence or abuse from a partner, ex-partner or family member.

National Centre for Domestic Violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation.

National Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence and Multiple Disadvantage. Breaking down the barriers. This report finds that survivors of abuse are being failed by the system meant to help them – with devastating consequences for them and their families.

National Domestic Violence helpline. This free 24 hour helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

NHS Choices: Help for domestic violence - Live Well. Information and advice on domestic violence. 

Rape Crisis. Rape Crisis England and Wales is a national charity which promotes the needs and rights of women and girls who have experienced sexual violence, and to improve services to them and to work towards the elimination of sexual violence.

Rights of Women. Rights of Women provides legal advice and information to women affected by violence.

Safe Lives. Safe lives is a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse. Safe lives also offers training for professionals, free down loads of tools and advice and MARAC assessment.

Samaritans. Samaritans provides a confidential support and advice service which is open every single day of the year.

UN Women (2023) Brief: The state of evidence and data collection on technology-facilitated violence against women.  

Victim support. Victim support is an independent charity which supports people affected by crime or traumatic events, including domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid. Women’s Aid is a national charity which works to end domestic abuse against women and children. Their campaigns aim to achieve changes in policy, practice and awareness, and encourage healthy relationships and help to build a future where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated.

Action for Children. Support for vulnerable and neglected children and young people, and their families.

AVA (2019) Hand in Hand: Survivors of Multiple Disadvantage Discuss Service & Support

Childline. Childline is a confidential helpline for children and young people experiencing or witnessing violence and abuse.

The Hideout. This website created by Women’s Aid gives support to children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network (VAMHN). Safe, Seen, Supported: How to reach and help children and young people experiencing abuse in their households.

Women’s Aid Expect Respect Education Toolkit. Consists of easy to use ‘Core’ lessons for each year group from reception to year 13 and is based on themes that have been found to be effective in tackling domestic abuse.

Centre for Social Justice (2022) Why are men often overlooked as victims of domestic abuse? 

Mankind. Mankind provides specialist services to men who have experienced various forms of abuse.

Men’s Advice Line. This advice line provides a range of services aimed primarily at men experiencing domestic abuse from their partner.

Refuge. Refuge provides a range of services to support abused women and children.

Shelter. Help if you’re homeless: domestic abuse.

Galop. A national LGBT domestic abuse helpline providing emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse.

Respect Phone Line. Are you hurting the one you love? A booklet on male violence in gay and bisexual relationships.

Stonewall. The Stonewall Housing Advice Line provides housing advice and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims and survivors of domestic abuse in England.

Domestic Violence Intervention Project. This project provides a violence prevention programme for men and a woman’s support service for their partners and ex-partners.

Respect (for perpetrators of domestic violence). A registered charity and national membership organisation promoting best practice for domestic violence perpetrator programmes and associated support services in the UK.

Cavell Nurses' Trust. The Cavell Nurses’ Trust charity supports UK nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, both working and retired, when they’re suffering personal or financial hardship often due to illness, disability, older age, domestic abuse and the impact of the coronavirus. 

Rapid reads for GPs and practice staff – recognising and acting on domestic abuse

NHS Employers: Domestic violence. This page looks at the financial cost of domestic violence to employers.

Nursing Times. Abuse in the home and the role of the nurse in the community.

RCNi. Lambert, N. Supporting people who are experiencing domestic abuse (2021). (Available with subscription to RCNi+)

RCNi. Primary Health Care journal. Using forum theatre with health visitor students to improve recognition and risk assessment of honour-based violence. (Available with subscription to RCNi+)

SafeLives. A cry for help. This evaluation study looks at the impact of providing specialist support for victims and survivors of domestic abuse in a hospital setting. 'Domestic abuse has a devastating effect on the health and wellbeing of victims and families, and is a national public health epidemic.' 

Safe lives

SafeLives offer training to a wide range of health professionals. SafeLives training helps professionals recognise the signs of domestic abuse, understand the issues and respond quickly and effectively when a victim needs help.

Inter-Collegiate & Agency National DVA (INCADVA) Forum

Inter-Collegiate & Agency National DVA (INCADVA) Forum in June 2020, published their report on Transforming the healthcare response to the Domestic abuse - Pathfinder resources for health settings today.

You can access them on the website here:

Page last updated - 14/12/2023