Domestic abuse: the scale of the problem

In the year ending March 2020, an estimated 2.3 million adults experienced domestic abuse. There was an 22% increase in the people supported by the National Domestic Abuse helpline in England in 2021.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse as the behaviour of a person towards another person when they are both aged over 16, personally connected, and the behaviour is abusive. People who are ‘personally connected’ can be intimate partners, ex partners, family members or individuals who share a parental responsibility for a child. Abusive behaviour can consist of physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, psychological, emotional or other abuse. It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.


Legal and language barriers for domestic abuse survivors

Domestic abuse survivors whose first language is not English face additional barriers to accessing support services. Firstly, information about accessing support is often in English rather than in a range of languages. This means that survivors may not know who to call or where they can access support. When those experiencing domestic abuse try to find support from the police or refuges, they may face barriers in being supported effectively due to issues with language, or a lack of specialist knowledge within services.

As many domestic abuse survivors with English as a second language are financially dependent, socially isolated and reliant for their immigration status on their partners or family members, it can be difficult to leave abusive situations.


A new holistic service

Greater Manchester Law Centre has launched a new service aimed at survivors of domestic abuse who speak English as a second language. We provide a holistic service that helps survivors overcome housing, benefits and employment issues.

We also have relationships with advisers in other areas, such as debt and immigration. This means that, for any legal issues we cannot deal with ourselves, we can make informed referrals to help you access support and leave abusive situations.

This service is open to people from all genders who speak English as a second language and have experienced domestic abuse. GMLC has access to some interpreting services, so we may be able to use an interpreter for your appointments.


To refer yourself, please contact us on 0161 769 2244 or email

To refer from another organisation, please fill in this form: DV project referral form.

Access our domestic violence support services

This service is open to people

  • from all genders;
  • who speak English as a second language;
  • and who have experienced domestic abuse.

To refer yourself, please contact us on 0161 769 2244 or email

To refer from another organisation, please fill in this form: DV project referral form.

GMLC has access to some interpreting services, so we may be able to use an interpreter for your appointments. Please make sure you let us know your preferred language if you need this service.


For more information:

Phone 0161 769 2244

On our Contact page, you will find a map with location of our premises and travel information.

If we cannot help you, we will always try to give you further information and refer you to an organisation who can.

Image shows a woman of colour, arm raised, at a protest march, next to a placard that says 'Sisters' and another that says 'together we can end violence against women'.

Helpful links

Please note: we include these links to places that may be able to help you understand abuse and find resources. Organisations’ inclusion in this list is not a formal endorsement from GMLC.

Women’s Aid

Manchester Women’s Aid

  • SAHARA Project – BAME women

Southall Black Sisters have a wealth of articles and information regarding:

Safety for Sisters

  • S4S are here to listen and support women experiencing abuse who have an immigration issues and no recourse to public funds.

Locked in abuse, locked out of safety report.

  • Key finding that migrant women with language needs are seen as ‘too difficult’ and required too much additional support for mainstream support services.
  • Harder to access counselling and support services if the survivor cannot speak English.
  • Difficulty in navigating the benefits system and accessing benefits.
  • The use of English as a method of control by perpetrators who often speak better English than the survivors. Often perpetrators will use knowledge of the system to threaten survivors i.e. revoke their visa.


  • Provides refuges for women and children to leave abusive households.
  • Support for men women and children experiencing abuse, and support for abusers to stop.
  • Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247

Karma Nirvana

  • Supports victims of honour-based violence and forced marriage.

Sistah Space

  • Campaigning for Valerie’s law to have cultural competency training for all police forces. This is in a response to the murder of Valerie Forde and her daughter by Valerie’s ex-partner. Roland McKoy had made threats to burn down the property with Valerie and her daughter inside and these threats were reported to the police, but no further action was taken.

Latin American Women’s Rights Service

  • Support women from Latin America and provide support services in Spanish and Portuguese.
  • Transnational marriage abandonment as a form of intimate partner violence. Survivors were especially vulnerable when they spoke no/little English. ‘The Right to be believed report.’


  • Specialist domestic abuse support service for Asian women.
  • 2018 Annual report. Testimony which stresses the importance of cultural understanding in domestic abuse services.
  • Language barriers are a significant reason why survivors do not access support. Saheli provides services in Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, and Hindi.


  • Provides a LGBTQ+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – Every Monday 5pm – 7pm – 01273 622 828
  • Alternatively, you can email us at letting them know a good time and safe number on which to call.


  • Provides services and advocacy to the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Resources for people experiencing domestic abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships.


  • Supports LGBT+ people who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, hate crime, so-called conversion therapies, honour-based abuse, forced marriage, and other forms of abuse.

LGBT Bucks

  • Supports the Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) trans* population of Britain.

Respect Men’s Advice Line

  • For male victims of domestic abuse.