Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is very common; approximately 1.3 million women suffer abuse in some form every year. Often women experience more than one type of abuse which have a wide range of effects on both physical and mental wellbeing. If not addressed this can have long term health consequences.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is not always physical violence . It can also be:

  • coercive control (this is an act or a pattern of acts of assualt, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim)
  • economic abuse (financial abuse involves a perpetrator using or misusing money which limits and controls their partner's current and future actions and their freedom of choice)
  • online abuse
  • threats and intimidation
  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse

Pregnancy can trigger an increase in the frequency and intensity of abuse and many women will experience it for the first time during their pregnancy.

We know that people suffering abuse often want help but feel they cannot speak out; this is why all health care staff have been trained to ask you about your relationship and if you feel safe at home. Midwives, GP’s and Health visitors will support you and your family offering advice and referral to a specialist worker if this is needed. They will not make decisions for you but can offer guidance and information so that you can move forward together and keep yourself safe.

Household isolation restrictions as a result of coronavirus do not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.

Please speak to your midwife if you need any support or call one of the help line numbers below.

If something just doesn't feel right contact your local maternity team

East and North Hertfordshire (The Lister Hospital):

01438 284124

West Essex (The Princess Alexandra Hospital):

01279 444455, extension 2945

South and West Hertfordshire (Watford General Hospital):

01923 217343

For local help please visit the sites listed below:


Hertfordshire: Herts Sunflower

West Essex: Essex Compass

Free helpline open 24 hours a day.

Telephone number: 0808 2000 247

For more information, please click here.


For information on the 'Ask Ani' pharmacy support scheme click here

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