How to report Domestic Violence (and Who to Report it to)

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence or has questions on what they should do:

What is Domestic Violence?
Who Commits Domestic Violence and Why?
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence?
How to Handle & Deal with Domestic Violence
How to Escape (or Help Someone Else Escape) Domestic Violence
How to Heal and Recover from Domestic Violence
What Impacts Does Domestic Violence Have on Victims and Their Family/Friends?
How to report Domestic Violence (and Who to Report it to)
How is Domestic Violence Proven in Court?
Punishment and Sentencing for Violent Domestic Abuse
How can Domestic Violence be Prevented?
What Effects Does Domestic Violence Have on Wider Society?
Domestic Violence Data & Statistics
Domestic Violence Helplines, Support & Further Reading


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.        

Who can or should I report domestic 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. 

How do I report domestic abuse whilst it’s happening to me?

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.

How do I report past domestic abuse that happened to me?

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. 

How do I report domestic abuse happening to someone I know?

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.

Should I report domestic violence if I see it occurring between strangers?

If you are worried about the safety and welfare of any individual 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.

What happens after domestic violence is reported?

The police will then help to keep you safe by;

  • Putting you in touch with specially trained domestic abuse officers and support agencies
  • Take you to a safe place like a refuge or try to take steps to secure you in your own home
  • Seek medical help if you are injured

The police will obtain details of the incident/s by interviewing you and taking a statement, if a crime is established they will detain the abuser and take him to a police station to be interviewed. The police will then advise you of the next steps and what will happen to the abuser.

Where there is enough evidence, the police will arrest the abuser and decide whether to keep him in custody or release them on bail. Even if the abuser does not get arrested, you might still be able to get legal protection from the court, for example a court order to keep him away from your home. There are normally conditions attached to a bail protecting a victim from further abuse.

The Crown Prosecution Services or police will help make a final decision on whether the abuser should be prosecuted. If they are prosecuted, you may need to go to court, however if you are worried about this, there are lots of organisations providing support services for victims and witnesses who can help you with this.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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