How & When to Report Abuse

how and when to report abuse

Reporting abuse is a challenging situation be it a victim, survivor or onlooker.

However we can all play an important part in preventing or stopping the abuse to continue. Whether it is to detect signs, become aware or acknowledge abuse is/or has taken place, ensure to raise your concerns or report your experience.

This guide will provide some useful information on how you can safely report abuse and resources for support.

Why should I report abuse?

Everyone has a right to be safe, by not reporting there is a risk of the abuse continuing or escalating.

Reporting can save a life, it’s the first step towards protection. When you are safe from harm, you’re in a better position to get help and support for yourself or someone you know.

How do I report abuse?

There are several ways in which abuse can be reported.

Thankfully the development of technology over the years has made it easier to access resources for help. You may wish to speak to someone over the phone, or by email.

Most organisations understand if you want to remain anonymous so you don’t have to be worried about sharing your identity. Remember in case of immediate danger call 999.

Who do I report abuse to?

There are a number of places you can report the abuse to depending on the situation.

For a non-emergency you can call the police on 101, alternatively;

  • If you or anyone else is at risk of immediate danger contact the police on 999
  • You may wish to report the abuse to social services. Your local authority will be able to provide further details for services in your area
  • You could report the abuse to your doctor, nurse or teacher. Please note these professionals will be working in organisations where they will have an understanding of reporting such matters and will be able to help.
  • There are lots of organisations committed to helping and supporting victims of abuse, please note this guide provides contact details for these resources

Reporting as the victim

It will be very difficult or impossible to think clearly when you are in a situation where the abuse is being carried out.

If the abuser detects any sign of you seeking help, it could make the situation worse. Look out for the closest exist, if you cannot escape safely try a room in the house with a lock on the door.

A few moments of this space could be enough to make a call to the police on 999. If you cannot talk dial 555 from your mobile and you will be given instructions on how to respond in other ways.

Reporting as a past-survivor

Remember it is never too late to report abuse. You can contact the police on the non-emergency number 101 and speak to them, they may ask you to provide a statement.

Recalling the traumatic experience may cause further emotional distress so make sure you have a good network of support to help you through this.

You may wish to consider counselling, talking to specially trained individuals who will have an understanding of your experience.

Reporting as an outside party

Reporting may save a life but can also be dangerous, you need to ensure the safety for the victim and yourself.

For example, calling the police may risk more harm to the victim as they may not be in position to speak truthfully about what has happened.

It is better to approach the victim and arrange a safety plan in which you know when to contact the police, this may include a code word or a sign to look out for.

Talk to the victim about approaching other resources for help, this may be domestic violence organisations or social services. Do not attempt to confront the abuser.

Reporting domestic violence & Spousal Abuse

If you’re in an abusive relationship with a spouse, you have a right to move forward and get away from the abusive relationship.

There are many organisations that can help by talking through your options. As difficult as it may be, try to keep as much evidence as you can of the abuse, this will really help depending on which route you decide to take.

To get help and advice about domestic violence, you can contact the following organisations:

Reporting Child Abuse

If you are worried about the safety and welfare of a child and unsure about what to do, you may wish to contact the police on the non-emergency number 101.

They will be able to guide you further on the best course of action, however if there is a risk of immediate danger dial 999.

The following are organisations which are committed to helping victims of child abuse:

    An organisation which helps victim of child abuse
    If you’re worried about a child contact;
    0808 800 5000
    Telephone lines are open Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm or 9am – 6pm at the weekends. You can contact them online or by email 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Childline
    0800 1111
    Support for children and young people in the UK, including a free helpline and 1-2-1 online chats with counsellors.
  • Savana
    Providing free counselling and support services for anyone from the age of 4 who have been affected by sexual violence and abuse.
    01782 433204
    Mon – Fri: 9:00 – 5:00

Reporting sexual abuse of adults

If you are an adult experiencing or have experienced sexual abuse, know that there is confidential and independent support available to help.

It doesn’t matter who commits the crime, it should not be tolerated. You may think about reporting it to the police or contacting the following organisations for further help and guidance:

Reporting Historical Abuse

It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, it wasn’t ok and you didn’t deserve it.  Remember you still have a right to report it.

You may want to contact the police or the following organisations for more help and guidance:

Reporting sexual abuse of minors

This can be a very distressing situation to become aware of but reporting is vital for the safety of the child.

For some people reporting may be mandatory by virtue of their employment, these places are under a duty to have a child protection policy in place.

Normally this will include schools, colleges, health authorities and trust. However you may wish to contact your local authority for details of social services in your area, reporting can be done anonymously. Please find below details of organisations which will be able to help:

  • Childline
    0800 1111
    Support for children and young people in the UK, including a free helpline and 1-2-1 online chats with counsellors.
  • Kidscape
    0207 823 5430
    Information and advice for parents, carers and young people with concerns about school bullying and abuse.
    An organisation which helps victim of child abuse
    If you’re worried about a child contact;
    0808 800 5000
    Telephone lines are open Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm or 9am – 6pm at the weekends. You can contact them online or by email 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Reporting Patient, Elder and Carer Abuse

Unfortunately vulnerable people, including the elderly are at an increased risk of abuse as they are less able to protect themselves.

The Care Act 2014 sets out duties for local authorities to have measures in place for the protection of the rights of those at risk.

However if you have any concerns you can get advice and support from the following:

  • Adult Social Services at your local council
  • The Care Quality Commission
    Phone: 0333 405 33 33
  • Hourglass
    0808 808 8141
    078 6005 2906 (free text line)
    Offers a helpline, text line, information and advice for older people who have experienced abuse. Also supports those concerned about an older person, such as families, carers or practitioners.
  • Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge
    0808 200 0247
  • The Police
    You can call them on 101 for non-emergencies and 999 in an emergency

Reporting Medical Neglect

Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to contact your local authority for details of social services. Alternatively you may wish to call:

Reporting Cyber Abuse

Please report anything you come across on the internet which makes you feel uncomfortable.

If you’re unsure on whether the abuser has committed an offence contact the police on the non-emergency number 101.

You may wish to report it to the social network that was use, most social media sites take cyber abuse very seriously.

Reporting Workplace Abuse

You may need to report the abuse to the police, 999 in an emergency and 101 for a non-emergency.

Remember your employers are responsible for ensuring your safety and so you should start by reporting the abuse to your manager, HR department or trade union representative.

If this does not work, take the formal route by using the company grievance procedure or legal action at an employment tribunal.  

Contact the Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helpline for further help and advice:

  • Acas helpline
    Telephone: 0300 123 1100
    Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100
    Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

A few words from the Criminal Injuries Helpline

Remember no one has the right to abuse you, you deserve to live a life with dignity and respect. Know that there is support out there to help channel your experience into a positive transformation, one in which you are priority, safe and free from harm. Reach out to someone today”

If you have ever been a victim of  an abusive relationship or are experiencing one now, please contact one of our advisors at the Criminal Injuries Helpline on 01422 754077 alternatively you may choose to email;

All our communications are confidential and our initial consultation is free.

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