Advice about domestic abuse

Date published: 01 November 2022 22:40

If an incident of domestic abuse is happening now or someone has been injured or is in danger, call 999. In a non-emergency, call South Yorkshire Police on 101. 

What is domestic abuse?

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence is ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.’

Domestic abuse can take different forms, including:

Find out more by clicking here

What is controlling or coercive behaviour?

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: a continuing 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.

Types of behaviour

The types of behaviour associated with coercion or control may or may not constitute a criminal offence in their own right. It is important to remember that the presence of controlling or coercive behaviour does not mean that no other offence has been committed or cannot be charged. However, the perpetrator may limit space for action and exhibit a story of ownership and entitlement over the victim. Such behaviours might include:

  • isolating a person from their friends and family
  • depriving them of their basic needs
  • monitoring their time
  • monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware
  • taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep
  • depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services
  • repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless
  • enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim
  • forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities
  • financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance
  • threats to hurt or kill
  • threats to a child
  • threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to ‘out’ someone)
  • assault
  • criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods)
  • rape
  • preventing a person from having access to transport or from working.

Controlling or coercive behaviour does not only happen in the home, the victim can be monitored by phone or social media from a distance and can be made to fear violence on at least two occasions or adapt their everyday behaviour as a result of serious alarm or distress.

How can I get help?

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can report it to us by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency, or tell a family member, friend or neighbour. Many abusers rely on silence so they can continue the abuse.

If you are worried about a loved one or someone you know, report it to us. We will listen.

We take all reports of domestic abuse very seriously. We are committed to protecting the lives of both adult and child victims of domestic abuse, to investigate all reports effectively, to bring offenders to justice and hold them accountable for their actions.

The Silent Solution

If you call 999 in an emergency but you are unable to speak to the operator because of your circumstances, you can use something called the Silent Solution. This means that the operator will ask you a series of questions - they may ask you to cough, or make a noise, or press a button on your phone, so they know you are listening to them. They will then ask you to press '55' on your keypad. This is the Silent Solution, and lets the operator know that you are in an emergency situation and require urgent help. The operator will then listen to what they can hear and make an assessment about what type of response is required. Do not call 999 and press '55' immediately - this may not be registered as a legitimate emergency call, listen to the operator's instructions and only press '55' when instructed.

Bright Sky app

Domestic abuse charity Hestia and the Vodafone Foundation have created a free mobile app called Bright Sky to provide information and support to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship, or those concerned about someone they know. It's available in four languages and has a UK-wide directory of domestic abuse support agencies with contact details.

Find out more about the app here or search 'Bright Sky' on your device app store.

What other support is available?

Our Protecting Vulnerable People team often provide support to domestic abuse victims, but support is also available from partner agencies. There are organisations in Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham who can offer you support, for both men and woman and LGBT+ communities.


Independent Domestice Abuse Service (IDAS) 
Helpline: 0808 808 2241

Domestic Abuse Coordination Team (DACT)


(Click here to view their leaflet outlining support services)

Independent Domestic Abuse Service (IDAS)
Helpline: 03000 110 110 North Yorkshire and Barnsley 

Rotherham Rise
Helpline: 0330 2020571

Doncaster Domestic Abuse Hub
Helpline: 01302 737080

Say It

Helpline: 0800 999 5428

Helpline: 0114 255 5740 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm)

Karma Nirvana


Helpline: 0800 5999 247 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm)


National Domestic Abuse helpline
Helpline: 0808 2000247

There are a number of services that can provide further advice and help, some are listed below:

Click here for more organisations that can help you.

Domestic Abuse Action Plan

You can read the force's action plan which sets out how we will deliver on the recommendations set out in the 2017 HMICFRS report on the police response to domestic abuse.