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What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is abusive behaviour between those aged over 16 years who are personally connected to each other, that is they are or have been intimate partners or family members, even after separation. Regardless of age, gender identity or reassignment, religion, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, marital status or background.

Behaviour is considered abusive when it consists of any of the following:

  • Physical or sexual abuse 
  • Violent or threatening behaviour
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour, even after separation
  • Economic abuse – means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect to acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or obtain goods or services
  • Psychological, emotional, or other abuse 

Includes so called 'honour-based' violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and force marriage.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts to assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that  is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

A child who sees, or hears, or experiences the effects of, domestic abuse and is related to the person being abused or the perpetrator is also regarded as a victim of domestic abuse in their own right.

Domestic Abuse Act 2021 (GOV.UK website)

For help identifying domestic abuse view the Refuge website

Further information

Helplines and support services

If an emergency please call 999 or 101

One Stop Shop

Merton has a confidential drop-in service for people experiencing domestic abuse. It’s held every Monday between 9.30am -12.00 noon (except bank holidays) at Morden Baptist Church, Crown Lane, Morden, SM4 5BL. For further details call One Stop Shop on 020 7801 1777.

  • Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA): 020 7801 1777
  • Victim Support: 0808 168 9111
  • Legal advice relating to domestic abuse: 020 8543 3302 or 020 8767 2777
  • Refuge: 0808 2000 247
  • RASASC (if you have experienced any kind of sexual violence): 0808 802 9999

Victim Support

Victim Support has independent domestic violence advisors (IDVA) you can speak to.

Phone: 020 7801 1777 weekdays 9am - 5pm or 0808 168 9111 at other times.

Victim Support

National Domestic Violence Helpline

The National Domestic Violence Helpline is run in partnership with Women's Aid and Refuge.

The helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained helpline support workers and volunteers.

Phone: 0808 2000 247

National Domestic Violence Helpline

Women's Aid Directory

Women's Aid Directory website

Women and Girls Network

  • You are aged 14-24
  • You live, work or study in any London Borough
  • You are worried about or have experienced violence, abuse or exploitation
  • You are experiencing trauma or emotional distress
  • You are minoritised due to your ethnicity, sexuality or disability

Women and Girls Network

Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men

The Men’s Advice Line is for male victims of domestic abuse. They offer confidential advice, non-judgemental support, practical information and help.

Men’s advice line – Telephone 0808 801 0327 freephone  Mon-Fri 10am to 8pm or email info@mensadviceline.org.uk Mon-Fri 9am to 8pm

Mens advice line

ManKind Initiative

ManKind provide an information, support and signposting service to men suffering from domestic abuse from their current or former wife, partner (including same-sex partner) or husband.  They have produced a directory of local services (called the Oak Book) which support male victims.

Telephone  01823 334244 confidential helpline weekdays 10am to 4pm

Mankind website


A lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) helpline for people who’ve experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence or domestic abuse.

Phone: 0207 704 2040



The Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development is committed to gender equality and safeguarding the rights of African girls and women.

Phone: 0208 960 4000, ext 1


Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO)

IKWRO provides advice to Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls who are at risk of ‘honour’ based violence, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence.

Phone: 0207 920 6460

Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO)

SignHealth Domestic Abuse Service

A specialist domestic abuse service to support the health and wellbeing of Deaf people.

Text: 0780 000 3421

Domestic Abuse Service - SignHealth

Referral to MARAC

If a Victim Support independent domestic violence advisor (IDVA) thinks you’re at risk from future harm from domestic abuse, they may discuss your situation at a meeting called a domestic abuse multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC). At the meeting they draw up an action plan to help manage the risk.

If you’re a professional and would like to refer someone complete a MARAC referral form. Email the form to merton.marac@merton.gov.uk. You can also email any questions you have on domestic violence to this email address.

Domestic abuse disclosure scheme – Clare’s Law

The overall aim of Clare's law is to help people to make a more informed decision on whether to continue a relationship and provide help and support when making that choice; or have recently separated.

If you are worried about your partner causing you harm or the partner of someone else causing them harm, you can ask the police and partner agencies to check their background. They can check if they have a record of abusive offences or if there is any other information to indicate they may pose a risk.

Domestic abuse is widely thought to be under-reported, which means that disclosures may not show a true reflection of a perpetrators history.  An application can be made using an online form or attendance at a police station.

Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Orders (DAPN and DAPO)

The new powers provide flexible, longer terms protection for victims from all forms of domestic abuse, including non-physical abuse and controlling or coercive behaviour.   A DAPN would be issued by police and a DAPO would be applied for at court by police, victims or specified third parties.

Metropolitan Police website

National Stalking Helpline

The National Stalking Helpline is the first national helpline to specialise in providing information and advice to victims of harassment and stalking.

Telephone: 0808 802 0300

National Stalking Helpline

Counselling Directory

Find a counsellor or psychotherapist near you.

Telephone: 0844 803 0252

Counselling Directory


If you're having a difficult time or if you're worried about someone else. Call free any time, from any phone

Telephone: 116 123

Samaritans website


MASCOT Telecare and Community Support Services provide a range of initiatives enabling people to remain at home with independence and security.

Telephone: 0208 274 5940


Other support services