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Women’s safety

Women and girls are often the targets of violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, forced marriage and trafficking. If you are a victim, you don’t have to put up with it. Find out where to get support and advice.

Violence against women: the numbers

In the last year, more than one million women and girls experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales.

Each year, more than 300,000 women are sexually assaulted and 60,000 women are raped.

Studies done by the British Crime Survey and similar surveys also show that:

  • more than one in four women have experienced domestic violence
  • 39 per cent of women say that the fear of crime impacts on their quality of life
  • nearly one in ten women say they have been stalked
  • 40 per cent of victims of serious sexual assault tell nobody

Domestic violence

Domestic violence can include physical abuse, sexual assault and verbal threats.

It can also include more subtle attacks such as:

  • constant breaking of trust
  • isolation
  • psychological games
  • harassment

It can affect partners in all types of relationships and can also involve violence between parents and children.

Follow the links to find out more about domestic violence, including where to get help.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault includes unwanted touching, oral sex and rape.

If you've just been attacked, dial 999. Police and ambulance workers will deal with you confidentially and sympathetically. 

You can also contact a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) for help. SARCs are places where people who have been sexually assaulted can receive medical treatment and emotional support.

For more information about sexual assault and to find your nearest SARC, visit the NHS website.

Forced marriage

Each year hundreds of women in the UK find themselves being ordered by their families into a marriage they do not want.

If you suspect your family is planning to force you into marriage, contact the Forced Marriages Unit at the Foreign Office. It specialises in dealing with this issue, and its staff can help.

You can also telephone or email the unit. Any information you give will be treated in confidence.

Telephone: 020 7008 0151
Email: fmu@fco.gov.uk

Follow these links to find out more about forced marriages.

Stalking

Stalking happens when one person follows or constantly harasses another, sometimes with threats of violence, sometimes with just constant unwelcome contact.

Contact can be made by telephone, letters, cards, email, or by just constantly showing up at somebody’s door or workplace.

Report it

If you are being stalked, contact the police and report the situation. Stalking is illegal, and you have a right to feel safe in your home and workplace.

Get help

You can get help from the National Stalking Helpline on 0300 636 0300 or email advice@stalkinghelpline.org

You can also get advice from charities like:

  • Network for Surviving Stalking
  • Suzy Lamplugh Trust
  • Protection Against Stalking

Trafficking

Trafficking is when people are bought like goods and sent to the UK to work against their will.

Trafficking into the UK supplies women to the sex industry and other industries that need cheap labour, eg domestic help like cleaners.

If you have been trafficked into prostitution or domestic work, you can get help from the Poppy Project.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal in the UK and if you are a British citizen it is illegal to be taken abroad for FGM.

FGM, often conducted for religious or cultural reasons, is a clear form of child abuse and violence against women. FGM is not required by any religion. FGM has no health benefits and can lead to severe health problems, eg problems urinating.

If you think that you or someone you know is at risk of FGM, you should contact your local police force. You can also call FORWARD, an organisation set up to help people dealing with FGM on 020 8960 4000, or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. If you are going overseas and are worried that you may be at risk, call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500.

If you have already been affected, there are specialist clinics across the UK where you can get medical help. For more information, see the full list of clinics on the FORWARD website.

  • Source Direct Gov
  • Last Updated: 06 Jan 2012