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Advice and Counselling Service

Domestic Abuse, including Forced Marriage

If you are experiencing abusive behaviour, it is important to remember that the abuse is not your fault, that domestic abuse is against the law, and that you don't have to deal with this on your own because there is a lot of support available.  

On this page we explain:

  • how to recognise the signs of domestic abuse 
  • the confidential support we can offer you at Queen Mary 
  • external specialist support options 

What is domestic abuse? 

Palm of a person with the word 'stop' written on it in black inkDomestic Abuse 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 

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 an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, frighten, isolate or create dependence.

Anyone can experience domestic abuse and whatever you want to do, there are organisations that can give you advice and help. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors that link the experience of an abusive relationship. Acknowledging these factors is an important step in preventing and stopping the abuse. Women’s Aid have produced a list to help you recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship.

Harassment, stalking, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and so called 'honour'-based abuse are also types of domestic abuse and you can find further specific information about these on the Queen Mary Report and Support pages. 
Forced Marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some adults with disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.

A forced marriage is different from an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage the families are involved in finding the partners, but the spouses still have a choice about whether the marriage goes ahead. Consent is a prerequisite to Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish marriages.

Forced marriage is violation of human rights, as well as a form of domestic violence. The Forced Marriage Unit have produced a handbook for survivors. Rights of Women have created a number of fact sheets. 

If you are experiencing abusive behaviour, it is important to remember that the abuse is not your fault, that domestic abuse is against the law, and that you don't have to deal with this on your own because there is a lot of support available. 

How can a Welfare Adviser help? 

You can contact us confidentially to arrange to see a Welfare Adviser, who can offer you advice and guidance with practical issues. It is important to understand that Welfare Advisers will always work from your point of view; they will not impose any decisions on you. The adviser will help you to understand what options are available at Queen Mary, for example how to find alternative accommodation if you wish to, and how to access financial support. The adviser can also help you access specialist external support for independent, confidential advice and information.

We can work with you whatever stage you are at – you may be living in a situation of domestic abuse or forced marriage and wanting advice about your options if you choose to leave, and how to plan for leaving safely. Or you may have already left. Or you may not have experienced domestic abuse or forced marriage yet but are at risk. We can support you in any of these situations. 

Also, if your situation is adversely affecting your studies, we can advise you about academic options such as submitting a claim for Extenuating Circumstances if you have been unable to attend exams or discussing whether you want to take time out of your studies. 

What other support is available? 

In an emergency you should call the Police on 999 (you do not need a signal or credit to do so). We would also encourage you to call the 24 hour free and anonymous National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247 or the Forced Marriage Unit.

You cancontact us  confidentially to arrange to see a counsellor, to get support with the difficult emotions you may be experiencing as a result of domestic abuse or forced marriage, or fear that you are at risk of these. 

Queen Mary's Report and Support webpages have information about specialist external organisations for domestic abuse and forced marriage. 

Get confidential advice and support

Free 24/7 National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Call now
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