Domestic abuse and VAWG

In an emergency, always call 999.


Domestic abuse

The government defines domestic abuse as an event or pattern of events of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people aged 16 or over who are (or have been) intimate partners or family members.

Physical violence is just one type of abuse – domestic abuse can be any behaviour which is used to harm, punish or frighten you, or makes you feel bullied, controlled or intimidated. This includes mental, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.

Some examples of abusive behaviour might be:

  • being isolated or prevented from having contact with friends and family
  • humiliating you in front of others, insulting or mocking you
  • disproportionate anger or yelling
  • threatening to do something to you or others
  • withholding or stealing money from you or preventing you from working
  • preventing you from escaping
  • telling you you are worthless, unwell or weak
  • regulating your everyday behaviour

It can occur at any time during a relationship, is rarely a one-off incident, and often forms a pattern of behaviour where the abuser seeks to hold power over their victim.

Domestic abuse affects around 2 million victims every year across England and Wales, and can affect someone of any age, gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion, lifestyle, class, or income. 


Violence Against Women and Girls

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a term which includes domestic abuse, as well as issues such as:
  • Stalking and harassment
  • Sexual assault and rape
  • Honour based abuse
  • Forced marriage
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Trafficking
  • Prostitution
  • Child sexual exploitation

Whilst women and girls are the most common victims of these crimes, it is important to recognise that men and boys are also at risk of domestic abuse and can access the same support as women and girls. 

Domestic abuse support in Brent and Helplines

In an emergency, always call 999.


Several local and national agencies can offer support if you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse:


Advance is an independent, client-led charity for all of those living in Brent who have experienced domestic abuse (male and female, including teenagers) and their children.

Contact Advance

Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm on 07398 454898

Email on 


Other support in Brent:

National Domestic Violence 24 hour helpline: 0808 200 0247
Womens Aid
Rape Crisis – A network of independent Rape Crisis Centres, plus the Rape and Sexual Abuse helpline - 0808 802 9999
Refuge - refuges, advocacy, community outreach projects and culturally-specific services, including the Eastern European Advocacy Service and the Vietnamese Outreach Service – 020 7395 7700
Asian Women’s Resource Centre: 020 8961 5701
Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (IKWRO): 020 7920 6460
Galop - Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse.
Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7708 0151 
Respect – Support for male perpetrators and victims of domestic violence
Men’s Advice Line - Advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse - 0808 801 0327 
Respect Phone line - Advice, information and support to help stop perpetrators of domestic abuse (male and female) being violent and abusive to their partners – 0808 802 4040
Rights of Women - Free, confidential legal advice by specialist women solicitors and barristers - 020 7251 6577 
Samaritans UK - Free, confidential helpline to talk about whatever is getting you - 0845 7909 090.
Childline: 0800 1111
Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service – A Stalking and Harassment charity – 020 3866 4107
National Stalking Helpline – 0808 802 0300
Find a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
The Women and Girls Network, including the Sexual Violence Helpline – 0808 801 0660

Rape and Sexual assault

Sexual violence is any form of sexual activity that is unwanted or that makes you feel uncomfortable, including physical contact, words, photographs, and having sex when you don’t feel able to say no. This can also include sexual exploitation.

Honour-based abuse and forced marriage

Honour-based abuse is a term given to a crime or incident committed to protect or defend perceived cultural and religious beliefs or the ‘honour’ of a family or community. For example, honour-based abuse might be committed against people who:

• become involved with a boyfriend or girlfriend from a different culture or religion
• wants to get out of an arranged or forced marriage
• wear clothes or take part in activities that might not be considered as ‘traditional’

These incidents can affect all cultures, faith groups and communities. Women are usually more at risk of victimisation and examples of violence include murder, fear of or actual forced marriage, controlling sexual activity, kidnapping, false imprisonment, threats to kill, assault, harassment, and forced abortion.

A forced marriage is where one or both spouses do not feel they can say ‘no’ to getting married. Pressure to marry can come in many forms including physical violence or threats, abuse, harassment, emotional pressure, blackmail, financial, sexual and accusations of bringing disgrace and dishonour onto the family or community. Forced marriage is illegal in the UK.

It is important to realise that an arranged marriage is very different from a forced marriage. In an arranged marriage, both parties enter into the marriage freely. The families involved may take a leading role in arranging the marriage and this usually includes the choice of partner, but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangements remains with the couple.

More help and advice


Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM), sometimes also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons".

It is an extremely harmful practice with significant health consequences for women and girls; some girls die as a direct result of the procedure and women who have undergone FGM are likely to experience difficulty in childbirth. FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 it is illegal to:

  • practice FGM in the UK
  • take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country
  • aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad.

If you suspect a girl in Brent is at risk from FGM, you should contact Brent Family Front Door on 020 8937 4300.

Further information on FGM can be found on FORWARD - (the Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development) and or the Local Safeguarding Children Board 

Children and young people

If you are in an abusive relationship and you have children you may find it hard to know what to do for the best. It is important to remember that children are affected emotionally when domestic abuse is happening in the home, or may even be abused too. All the support organisations listed will help you to protect your children.

Abusers commonly threaten that your children will be taken away if you tell anyone about the violence at home. This is very unlikely to happen. Children’s Services recognise that the best way of protecting children from harm is to support the parent or carer who is not abusive to do the best for the children.

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of your children or a young person please contact Brent Family Front Door on 020 8937 4300.

Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

Sexual exploitation of children and young people involves situations and relationships where they, or a third person or persons, receive something which could be food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money, as a result of them performing sexual activities and/or others performing sexual activities on them. Children are often groomed for future sexual exploitation.

If you have any concerns please contact Brent Family Front Door on 020 8937 4300.

For further information please contact the Local Safeguarding Children Board.

Prostitution and trafficking

There is much evidence to show that prostitution is harmful to women directly involved, women in general, to men who buy women in prostitution, to families and to the wider communities. People become involved in prostitution for a variety of reasons such as homelessness, child sexual abuse, mental ill health, trauma, previous sexual violence, drug and alcohol misuse, money pressures and poverty.

We know that brothels show evidence of rape, human trafficking and drug smuggling. Nationally, there has been work to close brothels and assist vulnerable women from breaking the cycle of offending. The true scale of trafficking in London remains unknown, but Brent is one of the key priority boroughs in London for trafficked victims.

In Brent there is joint work in operation between the council, Brent Police and external agencies to tackle the problems associated with brothels and the vulnerable prostitutes. Crime Reduction Initiatives support women in exiting the sex industry.

If you have concerns regarding prostitution or trafficking, please contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team or the council Anti-Social Behaviour team to report your concerns.

Change Grow Live (CGL) provide a wide range of health and social care services. They work with people who want to change their lives for the better and operate an outreach team in Brent.

Perpetrator Programmes and Intervention

Brent commission the Domestic Violence Intervention Programme (DVIP) to provide support to perpetrators of domestic abuse who want to stop being abusive to their partners/ex-partners.

The Respect Phone Line provide support and guidance to help stop perpetrators (both male and female) of domestic abuse being violent and/or abusive to their partners. They also offer support via webchat on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Respect phone line: 0808 802 4040

Operating hours: Monday to Friday 9am-5pm

Helping abusers to change

If you are worried about your own behaviour and have decided that you would like to talk to someone or seek help to change, specialist services can help.

They are not related to the police and they will not report your behaviour to them unless they believe that someone is at risk of serious harm.

Brent can work with your family to offer holistic support for everyone, to help reduce harm and improve safety. The Domestic Violence Intervention Project offers group work for perpetrators wishing to change their abusive behaviour, whilst supporting the victim and family as a whole.

For more information please contact Brent Family Front Door on 020 8937 4300.

Respect0808 802 4040
Respect provides a national helpline for men and women in heterosexual and same-sex relationships offering information and advice to people who are abusive towards their partners and want help to stop.

Relate - 0330 100 1234
Relate is the UK's largest provider of relationship support, who can help people of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations to strengthen their relationships.

Domestic homicide reviews

Domestic homicide reviews (DHRs) came into effect on 13 April 2011. They are a statutory requirement under section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Adults Act (2004). The Safer Brent Partnership has the responsibility for establishing domestic homicide reviews within Brent. 

A DHR refers to a review of the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has or appears to have resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by:

  • a person to whom he/she was related, or a person with whom he/she was, or had been, in an intimate personal relationship
  • a member of the same household

The purpose of a DHR is to:

  • establish what lessons are to be learned from the domestic homicide regarding the way in which local professionals and organisations work individually and together to safeguard victims;
  • identify clearly what those lessons are both within and between agencies, how and within what timescales they will be acted on, and what is expected to change as a result;
  • apply those lessons to service responses including changes to policies and procedures as appropriate; and
  • prevent domestic violence homicide and improve service responses for all domestic violence victims and their children through improved intra and inter-agency working. The aim in publishing these reviews is to restore public confidence and improve transparency of the processes in place, across all agencies, to protect victims.

DHRs in Brent

The case of Alexia

The case of Penina

 The case of Anna

 The case of Elaine