Posted on: 18 January 2021

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the National Domestic Abuse Helpline has seen an increase of around 50% in calls and an increase of over 400% in visits to their website. 

Over the past year CNWL has been raising awareness of the support that is available to victims of domestic abuse. CNWL’s third Domestic Abuse conference held on December 9 2020, looked in more detail at the impact of Covid 19 on those most affected by domestic abuse, including both patients and staff, and the importance of CNWL’s responses.  See more about it here:

The HIV Team at CNWL’s Mortimer Market Centre found out that in one study 26.9% of gay men experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

A further study suggested 31.1% to 50% of transgender people experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

The team also viewed a study where there was increasing evidence of domestic abuse in people living with HIV.

With the adverse effect lockdown has been having on domestic abuse along with the concerning results from the studies the team looked into, the HIV team at Mortimer Market Centre decided to conduct a Quality Improvement (QI) project to ensure a better screening process of domestic abuse in their patients living with HIV.

Following guidance from the British HIV Association, all doctors and nurses at the Mortimer Market Centre gently asked their patients living with HIV if they were experiencing a form of domestic abuse, with the question, ‘Do you feel frightened or threatened by anyone?’.

Following this question, patients who were at risk of domestic abuse were referred to counselling and further support from health advisers who were trained as domestic abuse ambassadors. All cases were then reviewed by the safeguarding team.

Nurses and doctors increased their domestic abuse screening completion rate to an average of 33% with a peak of 56%. With the new screening process the team were able to identify more than double the cases of domestic abuse compared to before the QI project began, allowing more support to go to people who need it.

54 patients were identified as victims and survivors of domestic abuse with 31% being identified pre-the first wave of national restrictions and 69% being identified post the first wave.

The team found the majority of the victims and survivors were male, totalling 68.5% of cases and 51.8% identified as homosexual.

Dr Nadia Ahmed Consultant HIV and Sexual Health Physician at CNWL’s Mortimer Market Centre said “This is a reminder we should all be asking patients about domestic abuse. We need to raise awareness that all age groups, ethnicities, genders and sexualities can be victims/survivors of domestic abuse - it can happen to anyone. Keeping the dialogue open about domestic abuse, ensures patients know they can turn to healthcare services to discuss concerns early so they can get the support they need.”

Patients have responded well to the new screening process with one commenting “Thank you for routinely asking about domestic abuse and giving patients the opportunity to tell someone if they are at risk.”

Further interventions are being implemented to increase the completion rate of domestic abuse screenings with training for nurses and healthcare assistants, reminders on the electronic patient records and with posters and patient information leaflets.

If you would like to view The HIV Team at Mortimer Market Centre’s Safety Conversation Poster or view their project on Life QI (log in required) follow the links below.

Life QI (Search 'domestic abuse screening in people living with HIV' to find Moritemer Market centre's QI project profile).

The HIV Team at the Mortimer Market Centre Safety Conversation Poster

Support for members of the LGBT+ community experiencing domestic abuse:

Galop - National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline

Galop provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people experience domestic abuse. They also provide an online referral service for victims and survivors of domestic abuse where they can be directed to other LGBT+ agencies for continued support including housing advice, emotional support and more. 

Helpline: call 0800 999 5428 or email (Open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm and Wednesday-Thursday 10am-8pm. Tuesday 1pm- 5pm is a trans specific service.)



Support for women experiencing domestic abuse:

National Domestic Abuse helpline

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is run by Refuge, they provide support to women 24 hours a day on the phone as well as a web chat service available Monday – Friday 3pm – 10pm. They have translation facilities if English is not your first language and provide BT type talk for people who have difficulties with hearing.

Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (open 24 hours everyday)



Support for men experiencing domestic abuse:

Respect - Men's Advice Line

Respect is a helpline for all men experiencing domestic abuse by their current or ex-partner. They provide support and advice as well as provide details for specialist services that can help with housing, child contact, mental health and other issues.

Helpline: 0808 8010327 (Open Monday–Friday 9am-8pm)



Support for people with a disability experiencing domestic abuse: 

SignHealth - Domestic Abuse Service

SignHealth offers help and support to deaf people experiencing domestic abuse. Sign health offers a dedicated worker for everyone they work with. You can text them, email and call them if you need their support.

Helpline: Text 07970 350366 Email Call 020 3947 2601



Respond works with children and adults with learning disabilities who have either experienced abuse or abused other people.



Links to more organisations are available at the Citizens Advice website, the link is below: