Domestic Abuse

If you are, or think you may be, experiencing domestic abuse and/or violence

Your safety and wellbeing are important to us, if it is safe to do so please speak to your line manager about measures they and the wider University may take to support you as outlined below. Alternatively in the resources tab you can find details of external organisations who may be able to provide information and support.

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If you are concerned about a colleague

Colleagues and managers can often be the only other people outside the home that those experiencing domestic abuse talk to each day.  Therefore they are uniquely placed to help spot signs of abuse – such as an individual becoming more withdrawn than usual, sudden drops in performance or mentioning controlling behaviours in their partner – and to help direct people to sources of support.


The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 creates a legal definition of domestic abuse which includes not only physical or sexual abuse but also psychological, emotional and economic abuse, violent or threatening behaviour and coercive control.

The following are potential signs of domestic abuse, which may be visible in the workplace:

  • Changes in behaviour, acting in a way that is unusual or out of character
  • Increased reluctance to talk about their home situation or avoiding answering questions about it
  • Physical signs like bruising, burns or bite marks
  • Presenteeisim can sometimes be a result of the workplace being a safer place for them to be than their home
  • Withdrawing from previous sources of support e.g. team social activities

The signs of domestic abuse, which may have been previously spotted by work colleagues/managers, may no longer be as easily observed where staff are working from home more often so it can be important to have sufficient time during video calls to check in with people.

For those working remotely the following may also indicate that something is wrong:

  • Change in use of cameras on Teams call may mean individuals are hiding bruises or damage to property
  • Wariness or anxiety about their partner or a family member coming into the room whilst on a call or you are speaking to them
  • Signs of tension, audible conflict in the home, shouting at children or others
  • Difficulty making contact with the individual virtually

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Guidance for individuals

If you are experiencing domestic violence or are concerned that a colleague is experiencing domestic violence then you can speak in confidence to your Line Manager, local HR contact or a Trade Union representative. They will be able to provide you initial support and signpost you to resources.

Line managers or your local HR contact/team will be able to work with you to:

  • Discuss and agree ways in which to help you stay safe in the workplace; and
  • Direct you to the appropriate domestic abuse resources such as those outlined on the Government website.  This includes information about how to call the police if you are in danger and can’t speak.
  • You can also find information about organisations that can support you on the resources tab 

Confidentiality should be maintained as much as possible. However, there are some circumstances where confidentiality cannot be assured, for example where there are high risk concerns for safety, these include for children or vulnerable adults, colleagues and members of the public.

You can find out more about the sort of support that your department can offer you by reading the guidance for line managers 

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Guidance for line managers and colleagues

Supporting staff who have disclosed domestic abuse

Remember that it can be very difficult for someone to disclose abusive behaviour to a line manager or colleague, particularly if the person affected is working from home. It is therefore really important to respond appropriately if a disclosure is made.  For example, you should: 

  • show empathy and compassion;
  • reassure the employee that the University is supportive of those experiencing domestic abuse; and
  • be ready to signpost the employee to the resources available. 

Agree to hold regular meetings/check-ins with the employee, particularly if they are working from home, so that you can regularly assess any support they need.

Depending on the circumstances, the following may be helpful:

  • Support for an employee who wishes to update their payroll account details to an alternative bank  account (this can be done through the HRIS Employee Self Service system
  • Removing contact details from the University webpages; if you have a departmental webpage you should be able to remove staff contact details or request not to have contact details on this page. For the university wide contact search please contact IT services.
  • Flexibility in working hours, for example to enable the employee to arrange financial, legal, housing and childcare issues
  • Arranging to divert phone calls or email messages if the employee is receiving inappropriate calls at work
  • Making the reception desk aware if particular individuals should not be given access to the building
  • Ensuring that the staff member has arrangements to get safely to and from the workplace
  • The University has a Staff Financial Support Fund which can help staff experiencing financial hardship.

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Supportive guidance/ policies

Safety at work

The university is committed to the security and safety of all students, staff, visitors and contractors on university premises. There should be departmental security arrangements for each site including guidance to follow if there is a concern for safety at work. This would include if a perpetrator of domestic abuse is harassing an individual at work, for example turning up at the workplace unannounced, constantly telephoning/ e-mailing/ messaging the employee while they are at work or harassing the employee’s colleagues.

A manager can take pre-emptive measures and contact the Crime Prevention Advisor in the University’s Security Services who can support staff with a safety plan at work.

Wherever there is a concern that somebody is at immediate risk of harm then please contact the police. In an emergency contact 999, for the police, fire or ambulance service. For non-emergencies contact the police on 101.

For emergency support relating to the university estate, please contact the Estates Services security team

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External sources of support

There are many resources and sources of support available to individuals experiencing domestic abuse and the government guidance on sources of support for victims of domestic abuse is a good place to start. It includes information about how to call the police when you can’t speak. It is also available in a variety of languages.

Warning: if you are worried about someone knowing you have visited this web page find out how to cover your tracks online.

Other sources of support are listed below:

Support which is available to all

  • Reducing the risk is a domestic abuse support service for Oxfordshire 
  • Bright Sky App is a mobile app and website for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or who is worried about someone else
  • Ask for ANI is a code word scheme that enables victims of domestic abuse to signal that they need help and access support from pharmacies across the UK. Participating pharmacies display posters in their windows so that customers know they can approach staff for help.

Specific support for women:

  • Refuge for women and children has a national helpline 0808 2000 247 and provides specialist accommodation and services to women and children escaping domestic abuse
  • Rights of women provides women with free, confidential legal advice by specialist women solicitors and barristers
  • Live Fear Free Helpline 0800 8010 800,  Provides help and advice about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence

Specific support for men:

  • Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327. The Men’s Advice Line helpline provides a range of services aimed primarily at men experiencing domestic abuse from their partner
  • ManKind 01823 334244 offers  advice and support for men experiencing domestic abuse

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Specific support for the LGBT community:

  • Galop (previously known as Broken Rainbow) 0800 999 5428 is a national LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline, providing support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence. Email contact
  • Support U 0118 321 0111delivers LGBT+ Specialist Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence support provisions to survivors of abuse within the Thames Valley.

Specific support for parents and children:

  • Oxfordshire Family Information Service provides information and support for children, young people and families in Oxfordshire
  • Parent Line Plus 0808 800 2222 is a UK wide help line for anyone caring for children and young people
  • NSPCC has a national helpline 0808 800 5000which offers advice and support on how to keep children safe from abuse
  • Childline 0800 1111 is the free helpline for children and young people in the UK. Children and young people can call to talk about any problem
  • Reunite 01162 556 234 isa charity which specialises in international parental child abduction. Providing advice, information and support to parents, family members and guardians who have had a child abducted or who fear child abduction.

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Help for those who are concerned about their own behaviour

  • Respect. If you are concerned about your own behaviour the Respect phone line is an anonymous and confidential helpline for all: 0808 802 4040

Other sources of support

  • Samaritans have a free phone service – 116 123 which is available 24 hours a day – “for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure”
  • White Ribbon is a leading charity engaging with men and boys to end violence against women.
  • The Freedom Programme is a free 12 week programme that examines the roles played by attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors.

Reporting concerns about children at risk

If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of abuse, there is advice on the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board webpage.