Calling the National Domestic Violence Helpline

The 24hr freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) is available on 0808 2000 247 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The helpline is answered by fully trained female support workers and volunteers, who will answer your call in confidence. All calls to the domestic violence helpline are free from mobiles and landlines. We can support survivors of domestic abuse, friends and families, and professionals who are in contact with domestic violence survivors.

Helpline FAQs Email us

Before you call

Be sure that you are safe when you call the helpline. This means that the perpetrator of the abuse is not in the same property as you (even if they are in another room, the garden or asleep).

The helpline worker needs to ensure you are not overheard to keep you safe from harm. It’s important to be aware that the perpetrator of the abuse may overhear your call and any information provided by the helpline worker.

Be prepared to not get through immediately

Voicemail Service

Due to high volume of calls, it is not always possible for a caller to connect immediately to a helpline worker during our peak times of 9.30-3.30pm Monday to Friday.

The voicemail service provides information on safety and alternative sources of assistance and allows callers to leave a message to be called back. Message are checked regularly and calls returned if it is safe to do so. If you’d prefer not to leave a message, you may find it is easier to get directly through to a helpline worker between 7pm and 7am.

Have a pen and paper or something to write on

The helpline worker may give you telephone numbers of relevant services or of refuges, or a reference number for your call.

Leave a voicemail

If you are calling on behalf of someone else, don’t leave their details on the voicemail system. The domestic violence helpline will never return a call from a third party. This is because we cannot guarantee that the the person is alone and safe, or that they have given their consent for the helpline to call them.

helpline@womensaid.org.uk

If you are unable to call you can also receive support from the Helpline workers via email. We will respond to your email within 5 working days. 

When you email the Helpline it’s very important that you specify when and if it is safe to respond and to which email address. The National Domestic Violence Helpline can only offer limited information by email as we don’t have the resources to provide on-going support or in-depth information in this way.

Please note we can not respond to emails by telephone as safety may be compromised. If you require an urgent response or need in-depth emotional support please call the number above.

Safeguarding children

Women’s Aid is clear that even if a child is not being directly hurt, witnessing physical, verbal and emotional abuse can have a serious detrimental effect on him/her. Women’s Aid aims to give each woman space to explore her options and support her to make safe choices for her and her children.

However, if we consider a child is at risk we have a duty to take appropriate action to minimise the risk of harm. This may include working with a woman to contact Children’s Services or, where necessary, making a referral ourselves.

Helpline FAQs

Who can call the helpline?

  • Women and children experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse
  • Friends, family, colleagues and neighbours seeking to support women and children who are experiencing, or – who have experienced, domestic abuse
  • Professionals supporting women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

What can I ring the domestic violence helpline about?

There is no typical call. The helpline workers speak to people about a wide range of topics including, but by no means limited to:

  • discussing what domestic violence and abuse is
  • safety plans for staying in and leaving an abusive relationship
  • safety plans after separation from an abusive partner
  • looking for safe accommodation and refuge spaces
  • what to expect when services get involved
  • looking for face to face or local support
  • looking for emotional support after an abusive relationship has ended
  • being worried about a friend, colleague or family member
  • professionals looking for help for their clients
  • signposting to other sources of information and advice

Some people who contact the helpline are speaking about their concerns for the first time.

The helpline workers understand how hard this first step can be. Many can feel that the abuse is their fault. The helpline workers are skilled in listening and do not judge. Some people wonder if their worries are justified, or if their situation is really of concern and that’s why they ring the helpline.

Others may need help in working out what they want to do next. The helpline will never tell anyone what to do, but instead will explore the options available to them.

We’ve created some sample phone call documents which you can download by clicking on the links below.

Call from a survivor looking for refuge

Call from a survivor experiencing psychological and emotional abuse

Call from a survivor regarding child contact

Call from a third party

I’m not sure it’s domestic abuse. He hasn’t hit me yet, or it was only once.

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical, but it is always abuse and just as high risk as physical violence. Also physical abuse isn’t just hitting. It is pushing, pulling, kicking, pinning you down, holding you by the neck and arms, pinching and scratching.

For more information, go to our page on What is domestic abuse?

I’m not sure I should call, I’m not in danger

Then this is the best time to call. It is best to start looking at a relationship that is or may be abusive before you are at a high risk of harm.

You can explore in safety and confidence with the helpline worker  what is worrying you in terms of your partner or family member’s behaviour towards you, to make plans if you need for your future safety.

Is it confidential? Will you tell anyone else or ring the police or report me to social services?

Your call is confidential. You do not have to tell the helpline worker anything you don’t want to, and you do not have to give your name or location. Any information you do give to the helpline will not be shared with any other professionals without your permission.

The only circumstances in which the helpline will break confidentiality are if we believe a child is at risk or you are a vulnerable adult. We will explain during the call if we feel this is the situation and if we believe that breaking confidentiality is the only option to keep you and your children safe.

What’s the core purpose of the helpline?

The purpose of the helpline service is to give women, children and their supporters the confidential support and information they need at the time that they need it. Our main aim is to keep women and children safe.

What kind of advice is given via the helpline?

The Helpline is a crisis service and is not intended to offer general information on domestic violence Helpline staff respond according to caller’s needs and may for example:

  • Refer women (and any children they may have) to emergency safe accommodation
  • Provide information about legal rights, housing, or welfare rights, and options and referral to relevant services and professions
  • Carry out safety planning for staying, leaving immediately or leaving in the future
  • Offer emotional support and (if appropriate) refer to counselling and other services
  • Refer women to face-to-face support via community based drop-in or outreach domestic violence services in their locality
  • Refer callers to the online Survivors Handbook,

In addition to offering confidential support and information, the Helpline workers are a source of practical help and information about housing rights and entitlements, information on getting injunctions, or reassurance about calling the police.

What kind of response is given to emails?

The helpline can only offer limited information by email helpline@womensaid.org.uk as we do not have the resources to provide on-going support or in-depth information in this way. When you email the helpline it’s very important that you specify if it is safe to respond and to which email address. Your safety is our main concern.

Requests for callbacks via the e-mail service will not be met as it may be up to five working days before an e-mail is answered and safety cannot be ensured when calling back.

If you require an urgent response or need in-depth emotional support please contact the Freephone 24 hour Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) on 0808 2000 247.

Safeguarding children

Women’s Aid is clear that even if a child is not being directly hurt, witnessing physical, verbal and emotional abuse can have a serious detrimental effect on him/her. Women’s Aid aims to give each woman space to explore her options and support her to make safe choices for her and her children.

However, if we consider a child is at risk we have a duty to take appropriate action to minimise the risk of harm. This may include working with a woman to contact Children’s Services or, where necessary, making a referral ourselves.

I don’t speak English can you still help?

The Helpline is a member of Language Line and can provide access to an interpreter for non-English-speaking callers. The Helpline worker arranges a three-way conversation so that the caller can speak to the Helpline worker through a translator. They can often find local domestic violence refuges and services that have workers that speak other languages.

My hearing isn’t very good on the phone. What should I do?

The Helpline offers BT Type talk for callers with hearing difficulties.

Will the number show up on my phone bill?

The helpline number will not show up on BT landline phone bills.

Calls to the helpline made on Orange, Virgin and 3 networks do not show up on your phone bill.

Other networks are also working towards this, but you will need to check with their customer services team if you are concerned.

Is it free from a mobile?

The helpline is a freephone number from any mobile phone, landline, public telephone.

Calls to the helpline made on Orange, Virgin and 3 networks do not show up on your phone bill.

Other networks are also working towards this, but you will need to check with their customer services team if you are concerned

What happens if I get put through to voicemail?

Please leave a clear message with your name, a contact number, and a safe time to call you back.

A helpline worker will return the call as soon as they are available. The call will be from a withheld number and if there is no answer, a message will not be left to ensure caller safety.

Please try to ensure that after leaving a message that your phone is on, charged and you are in a safe place to receive the callback.

I have already called once, can I call again?

Yes you can. You may have further questions, want to get details of a service or refuge or want to talk through something again.

We will give you a reference number so the helpline workers can easily find your call record and you will not be asked to repeat your whole story again.

If you do not have a call record or wish to have one on the helpline, from the previous call the operators can still speak to you.

Please note that the helpline is not setup for ongoing emotional support.

Who answers the phone?

Fully trained and experienced female Helpline workers and volunteers. The helpline is run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge.

The person I spoke to last was really nice; can I speak to her again?

Callers cannot request a specific helpline worker to speak to. We will give you a reference number so the helpline operators can easily find your call record and you will not be asked to repeat your whole story again.

What other information is available to help me?

The Survivor’s Handbook, covers every aspect of seeking help and support, including how to make yourself and your children safe, your legal rights and how you can help a friend experiencing domestic abuse.

It also provides practical information about your housing options. The range of refuge and other domestic abuse services available to you and information about how to look after your physical and mental health.

There are also specialist domestic abuse services and helplines available. Find your local service

© 2015 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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