COVID-19: Help if you are Experiencing Domestic Abuse

Sonia Montgomery

These are worrying times for us all, but particularly for anyone who is experiencing domestic or sexual abuse. The current ‘stay at home’ advice means that anyone in this situation is likely to be isolated at home with the person who is abusing them.

Domestic abuse can happen to men as well as women and it can happen to anyone – any age, any background, same sex or heterosexual partnerships. Abuse can be emotional as well as physical but it is important to realise that it is never acceptable under any circumstances.

Click here to read more about the signs of domestic abuse

But there is help and support and helplines and specialist services continue to operate, although face to face counselling services may be affected. If you can, keep a mobile phone with you at all times.  If you are worried about yourself or someone else, these organisations can help:

In an emergency where you need immediate help or feel threatened, always call the Police on 999

***   In a non-emergency where you need immediate assistance or advice, call 101

***   To make a report about non-emergency incidents to the police, click here to make a report online

***   The Silent Solution: If you need to ring PSNI but are too scared or unable to speak, ring 999 and press 55 when prompted (see attachment for more information)

***   Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline: available 24 hours a day and provides information and support via phone, email and web chat. Call 0808 802 1414, email or visit

***   Accord Covid-19 couples and relationships support line - 028 9568 0151 (see poster attached) operates 9.00 am - 8.00 pm, Monday to Friday

***  Fermanagh Women’s Aid: 028 6632 8898 or visit the website 

*** Omagh Women’s Aid: 028 8224 1414 or visit the website

***   Foyle Women’s Aid: 02871 1416800 or visit the website

***   Men’s Action Network based in Derry recently launched a helpline and access to immediate counselling for men experiencing abuse: 02871 226530

***  Men’s Advisory Project provide services to male victims across Northern Ireland including in the Western Trust funded by HSCB. It offers services of risk and safety planning,            support, referral and counselling in Derry, Strabane and Omagh.  Phone 02871 160001 or visit  the MAP NI website

***   If you are gay, lesbian or transgender, The Rainbow Project has an advocacy service to provide support and advice: 02890 31903

***   La Dolce Vita project is a therapeutic counselling charity supporting those impacted by domestic abuse, violence and parental alienation.  Phone 02871 7137 7272

***   Victim Support NI can provide help and support for anyone experiencing abuse: Phone 02890 243133 or visit the website

***   If you are concerned about a child living with abuse, you can contact Western Trust Gateway Service: 02871 314090

***   Lifeline is the Northern Ireland-based crisis response helpline service operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you’re in distress or despair, you can call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 and talk to an experienced counsellor in confidence

Worried That Someone is Experiencing Domestic Abuse?

Unless you are trying to help someone who is very open about their experience, it may be very difficult for you to do anything to help this person. Most people who are victims of domestic abuse are unlikely to disclose their situation even to close family members. Remember men as well as women can be victims of domestic abuse.

This guide therefore is for when the person confides in you that they are experiencing abuse.

Things to do:

• Give the person space and time to talk.

• Call them by their name.

• Speak slowly and clearly.

• Listen carefully. Allow the person tell you how they feel.

• Keep calm and reassure the person as you listen.

• Be kind. Try to understand how they are feeling.

• Do not try to talk over the person - wait for a 'natural' break before speaking and pause, using silence, before you speak to slow down the pace of the conversation.

NB: Always get help from someone more experienced if you need it.