Violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls is under-reported yet very common. This guide offers information and links to organisations that can provide help and support.

Leave this page quickly if your abuser suspects your activity

This page is updated regularly. It outlines some useful violence against woman and girls (VAWG)-related information for Lambeth residents and practitioners during current public health measures to manage the impact of coronavirus.

Key messages

Gaia Centre

Survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence may feel particularly alone and at risk during self-isolation. If you’re in Lambeth, you can get confidential advice and support via the Gaia Centre. The centre can also support you with options around safe housing and legal advice for survivors.

See the following about service delivery during this time, also translated into 11 languages:

Lambeth Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

MARAC is operating remotely during isolation and the conference is now every two weeks. Email for more information or to make a referral on: lambethmarac@lambeth.gov.uk.

National Domestic Abuse Helpline

For 24/7 advice for yourself or someone else, contact the freephone 0808 2000 247.

Support for survivors

Domestic abuse and sexual violence affects many people and can affect anyone, regardless of their background or gender identity. It isn’t just physical violence, it’s a pattern of behaviours used to control a current or ex-partner or family member. This can include emotional, psychological, financial and sexual abuse.

What to do during this time

  • If you are in immediate danger, always call the police on 999. If you are unable to speak on the phone, you can use the ‘Silent Solution’ system. Press 55 and the operator will transfer the call to the relevant police force as an emergency.
  • The UK Government have created a new web page with advice for survivors, and are running a nationwide campaign to let survivors know that there is support available #YouAreNotAlone. Read the UK Government's get help guide. For people without English as a first language this guidance is also available in15 other languages.
  • Refuge have released a series of safety tips for survivors during isolation. It includes a tech-abuse chatbot if the perpetrator is controlling devices.
  • SafeLives have released a series of resources and information, including helpful podcasts by survivors, for survivors.
  • Chayn provide bite-sized support delivered in disguised emails at a time that you choose via Soul Medicine. For other free online tools, information, courses and support for people experiencing abuse, which are all free to access visit the Chayn website.
  • Guidance for survivors, friends, family, neighbours and practitioners about the impact of coronavirus on those experiencing economic and financial abuse is available on the Surviving Economic Abuse website.
  • For information on welfare benefits, immigration and housing advice please see Benefits advice.
  • Rights of Women continue to provide free legal advice to women affected by gender-based violence. The opening hours of their advice lines are subject to change. For details, visit the Rights of Women website.
  • The Women and Girls' Network's free, safe and confidential sexual violence helpline allows survivors to explore the impact of their experiences and access specialist emotional support and advice. Phone: 0808 801 0770 Monday-Friday, 10.00am-12:30pm and 2:30pm-4.00pm, or Wednesday evenings between 6.00pm-9.00pm.
  • Support is available to victims and witnesses involved in the Criminal Justice System during isolation. Contact the London Victim and Witness Service (LVWS) from 8.00am-8.00pm Monday-Friday and 9.00am-5.00pm on Saturday. Phone: 0808 168 9291. Outside of these hours, call Victim Support’s free helpline on 0808 168 9111. For other information, visit the Victim and Witness Information website.
  • The Government is releasing selected 'low-risk' offenders who have served over half their sentence and are within two months of their automatic release dates to limit infection. This excludes those with a history of domestic violence, but survivors who are not part of the Victim Contact Scheme who wish to check if the offender in their case has been given early release should contact the helpline on 0300 060 6699, or email victim.helpline@justice.gov.uk.
  • Sign Health are providing remote support to deaf survivors of domestic abuse. They also have a range of other psychological and social support services available via the Sign Health website.
  • The laws related to asylum seekers have been relaxed during this time. The Refugee Council have put together a summary of some of the key changes affecting those in the asylum system in response to COVID-19.
  • The government have released guidance on how to apply for domestic violence injunctions during the pandemic.
  • The free Hestia Bright Sky app poses as a weather app on your phone but actually enables a survivor of domestic abuse to access all local and national domestic abuse support services and helplines, as well as calling 999 in an emergency. Consider the potential risk of downloading the app if the abuser has access to your electronic devices via the Bright Sky website.
  • Major pharmacies are displaying domestic abuse support information in their stores and allowing customers to use a confidential room to make a call in partnership with Hestia. See their Safe Spaces campaign.
  • Check your local Citizens Advice office website for the most up-to-date coronavirus guidance. To speak to someone, contact your Local Citizen's Advice office.

Supporting children during this time

Support to change abusive behaviour

Stresses caused by coronavirus are not an excuse for domestic abuse – abusing a partner, ex-partner or family member is always a choice.

Respect Phoneline Website: Respect can help those who perpetrate abuse to change their behaviour, and is operating as usual: Phone: 0808 802 4040.

Support for friends, family, colleagues and neighbours

Most of us know someone affected by domestic abuse as their friend, family, neighbour, carer, colleague or key worker. Check in with someone who you are worried about, but always assume that the perpetrator is listening. To check in safely:

  • always begin conversations by checking whether it's safe to talk
  • use closed questions to allow one word answers from the survivor, for example, "is it safe to talk?" and "are you in danger?"
  • if you suspect the survivor isn’t able to talk safely, give them a line to end the call, for example, "if it isn’t safe to speak, repeat after me - I’m sorry Sam isn’t here, you’ve got the wrong number”
  • when it’s safe to talk, agree a code word or phrase or emoji with the survivor to use if they are in danger, or it is unsafe to speak
  • when it’s safe to talk, remind the survivor that they should always call 999 if they are in immediate danger
  • when it’s safe to talk, remind the survivor that they can access specialist support if they're in Lambeth via the Gaia Centre
  • always reassure the survivor that you believe them and that the abuse is not their fault.

Now is a time to be extra vigilant. If you overhear a neighbour or believe an adult or child is in immediate danger due to domestic abuse, call the police on 999.

If it's not an emergency, tell the charity CrimeStoppers UK what you know 100% anonymously. Phone 0800 555 111 or visit the CrimeStoppers website.

For more advice on supporting a loved one who is experiencing domestic abuse, see Refuge's helpful 1 in 4 Women guidance.

SafeLives have produced information to help neighbours, friends and family members concerned about a survivor of domestic abuse:

Galop have developed guides for friends and family who are worried that an LGBT+ person that they know is being victimised by their partner. Guides are also available for friends and family who are worried that the LGBT+ person that they know is using violent or abusive behaviour towards their partner:

Support for practitioners