Click on the headings below to know the answer to our FAQs
What’s the core purpose of the helpline?
The purpose of the joint Helpline service is to deliver a responsive, empowering and effective freephone 24hr National Domestic Violence Helpline Service that gives women, children and their supporters the confidential support and information they need at the time that they need it. Our main aim is to keep women and children safe.
Who can call the helpline?
- Women and children experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic violence
- Friends and family seeking to support women and children who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic violence
- ‘Professionals’ supporting women and children experiencing domestic violence.
What kind of advice is given via the helpline?
The Helpline is an emergency service and is not intended to offer general information on domestic violence. Helpline staff respond according to caller's needs and may for example:
- Refer women (with or without children) to emergency safe accommodation.
- Provide information about legal, housing or welfare rights and options and referral to relevant services and professions.
- Carry out online crisis and safety planning.
- Offer emotional support and (if appropriate) refer to counselling services.
- Refer women to face-to-face support via community based drop-in or outreach domestic violence services in their locality
- Refer callers to the online Survivors Handbook or send them an information pack, with a range of help and information leaflets that are all available in different languages.
In addition to offering confidential support and information, Helpline staff are a source of practical help and information about housing rights and entitlements, information on getting injunctions or reassurance about calling the police.
Can I speak to someone in a different language to English?
The Helpline is a member of Language Line and can provide access to an interpreter for non-English-speaking callers. The Helpline worker arranges a three-way conversation so that the caller can speak to the Helpline worker through a translator.
My hearing isn’t very good on the phone. What should I do?
The Helpline offers BT Type talk for callers with hearing difficulties. The Helpline worker contacts the Type talk operator so that the caller can communicate through them.
Will the number show up on my phone bill?
The Helpline number will not show up on BT landline phone bills. If you have another service provider you will need to check with their customer services team.
Is it free from a mobile?
Unfortunately calls are not free from any mobile but the Helpline is a freephone number from any landline or public telephone.
Calls to the Helpline made on Orange, Virgin and 3 networks do not show up on your phone bill. Other networks are also working towards this, but you will need to check with their customer services team if you are concerned.
Can I email the Helpline instead?
Where possible please try to telephone the Helpline where you can receive immediate advice and support. If this really is not an option please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails are responded to within five working days.
Does the Helpline have a voicemail service?
Yes, but you will only go through to voicemail when call volumes are high. If you're put through to voicemail during a busy time, you will be invited to leave a message to be called back with a safe time to do so if appropriate. Voicemail messages are checked every half an hour. When returning a call, the Helpline won't leave a message as this may jeopardise your safety.
The Helpline also has an automated message service that plays while a caller is waiting to get through to a Helpline Support worker. The messages give information on safety, what to do in an emergency, and how to contact other service providers. The message also suggests alternative times to call where getting straight through to a helpline worker is more likely.
Who answers the phone?
Fully trained and experienced female Helpline workers and volunteers.
How long has the helpline partnership been going?
The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, has recently celebrated 10 years of helping women experiencing domestic violence. The vital service is funded by the Home Office, Comic Relief and London Councils.
Since 2003, the national Helpline has received close to 1.5 million phone calls and referred an average of 28 women to a refuge every day, making it a lifeline for women and children in the UK who are experiencing domestic abuse and are desperately seeking help.
Many women now know where to turn for support, and conviction rates have also increased from 59.7% [2005/6] to 74.3% [2012-2013] during the time of the Helpline’s existence.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said:
“I am enormously proud of the work our Helpline has done over the past 10 years. Thanks to the support of our funders, the teams of specially trained helpline support staff are able to provide a lifeline to some of the 1.2 million women a year who experience domestic violence. I look forward to continuing to work with our generous funders and partners to ensure the Helpline has another 10 years of success."
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive at Refuge said:
“The National Domestic Violence Helpline is a vital resource. Every day it helps hundreds of women to access refuge accommodation and other services across the country. Some of these women and children are literally running for their lives. I am so thrilled that our funders are continuing to support the Helpline – together we can save and change more lives.”
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said:
"During the past ten years the helpline has been fundamental in ensuring victims get the support they need. It is vital people know there is help available to them if they are at risk or have been the victim of domestic violence."
“I want to ensure we do even more to prevent these crimes, help victims and bring perpetrators to justice. That is why this government has ring-fenced nearly £40 million of funding for specialist local support services and national helplines to help victims escape abusive situations.”
Gilly Green, Head of UK Grants at Comic Relief, said;
“Comic Relief is proud to have been supporting the National Domestic Violence Helpline since it was launched 10 years ago. We know that, shockingly, 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and often don’t know where to turn for help. The Helpline has helped thousands of women towards a safer future”.