Domestic Abuse

Know This Isn't Love Campaign - 19th February 2019 to 1st March 2019

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is launching a campaign on 19th February 2019 to raise awareness of coercive control. It will be launched under the branding of Victims First. Victims First supports victims and witnesses of crime across the Thames Valley and is managed by the OPCC.

The campaign, ‘Know this isn’t Love’ aims to raise awareness of the signs of coercive, controlling and abusive behaviours in relationships so that people who are experiencing it, identify with it and potentially seek help. Anyone who is concerned they may be experiencing this can contact Victims First for support. You can find further information about coercive control in the PDF on the right hand side of the page. 

Graphics and A4 posters are available to download at

What is Domestic Abuse?

The Home Office’s ‘official’ definition of domestic abuse is:
“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
• psychological
• physical
• sexual
• financial
• emotional
“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 of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”


Am I in an abusive relationship?:
Please visit Berkshire Women’s Aid for a detailed description of the signs of domestic abuse click here:

My partner hasn’t hit me, but they are mean to me and the children. Is this abuse?
It can be, yes. Domestic abuse can take place in the form of coercive control. Please see Berkshire Women’s Aid for more information:

Is my child being abusive towards me?
Whilst it is normal for adolescents to demonstrate healthy anger, it should not be confused with violence. For more information, please click here:

Is it my fault?
Abuse is never the fault of the victim. Please visit Berkshire Women’s Aid for more information:

I argue and sometimes fight back. Am I abusive too?
It is normal for couples to argue as long as no-one is hurt, threatened or assaulted as a result. It is also normal to want to defend yourself if someone is attacking you. However, this hugely increases the risk of serious injury to both you and your partner and should be avoided. Your actions might also be considered illegal by the police. There is help available to address this violence, so please consider calling Berkshire Women’s Aid: 0118 950 4003.

How do I leave and where will I go?
Berkshire Women’s Aid can provide support and advice to those who want to leave an abusive relationship. This includes emergency accommodation for up to 38 women and their children, and specialist refuge provision. Please visit the webpages below for more information:
Leaving an abusive relationship
Emergency Accommodation and Refuge:
Specialist Refuge Provision:

For those who do not need or want refuge you can contact Reading Borough Council’s Housing Advice Service for further options, including housing in the Private Rented Sector. You can contact the team using the methods below:
Telephone: 0118 937 2165

I’m not a UK National, can I still get help?
If you are not a UK National and do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, your legal rights may be more limited in some areas.
However, you DO have the right to live free from domestic abuse and have the same rights to protection from the law as everyone else.
For more information, please visit Berkshire Women’s Aid:

What support can my children get?
Berkshire Women’s Aid provides specialised group sessions, and one-to-one sessions if necessary, for children identified as living with domestic abuse. For more information, please click here:
Berkshire Women’s Aid and Reading Borough Council also run the Family Choices Project:
For a description of how domestic abuse affects children, click here:

Will social services take my children away if I tell someone about the abuse?
Social Services have a statutory duty to protect children, and will assess each case on an individual basis. However, there are many options available when considering the best interests of the child, and taking children into care is a last resort.
If you would like information on refuge services available for women and their children, please visit Berkshire Women’s Aid:
For information about how domestic abuse affects children, click here:

I want to stay with my partner. Can I still get support?
Yes, you can. There are all sorts of reasons why a person may not be ready to leave an abusive relationship, but you can still receive support. Please visit Berkshire Women’s Aid:

What support can I get as a member of the LGBT+ Community?
For LGBT+ support in Reading and Thames Valley please visit SupportU -, who offer drop-in centres, support groups, and telephone conversations.
For more information about Domestic Abuse in LGBT+ relationships, please click here:

What support can I get if I have learning difficulties?
Berkshire Women’s Aid: provide support and refuge for people with learning difficulties.

What support can I get if I decide to prosecute?
Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Services are available to support you through the court process. There is currently one Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) within Berkshire Women’s Aid:

How can I support a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic abuse?
For advice on how to support someone who may be experiencing domestic abuse, please click here:

What is a MARAC meeting and how are people picked for one?
For an outline of MARAC and the cases they cover, please click here:

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