Violence against women and girls is under-reported yet very common. This guide offers information and links to organisations that can provide help and support.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. The Gaia Centre

In an emergency call the police on 999

If you are ready to seek help, you can contact Lambeth Violence Against Women and Girls hub – The Gaia Centre (run by Refuge).

Telephone: 020 7733 8724
Email: lambethvawg@refuge.org.uk

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (with additional out-of-hours on-call service provided via the same contact number)

The Gaia Centre provides confidential, non-judgemental and independent support services for those living in the London borough of Lambeth who are experiencing gender-based violence. Our services support women and girls aged 11 and over, and men aged 16 or over – including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or are unsure of their sexuality. The Gaia Centre also supports transgender clients who identify as male, female, as another gender, or are questioning their gender identity.

Who can access support from the Gaia Centre?

Anyone living in Lambeth who has experienced or is at risk of gender-based violence and is one of the following:

  • Women and girls aged over 11

  • Men aged 16 or older

  • Transgender and identifies as male, female, as another gender, or is questioning their gender identity

What support is available from the Gaia Centre? Everyone’s needs are unique and we will work with you to create a support plan that helps keep you safe. For example you may need to:

  • Talk to someone who understands what you are going through

  • Receive support with contacting the police

  • Move away from the area

  • Access a refuge

  • Stay at home but want to find out how you can keep safe

  • Receive support if you are considering going to court

  • Access legal advice

  • Manage your financial situation

  • Find out about support networks in your community

  • Get specialist support for your children

The service is free and staffed by female members of staff only. Children are welcome.

2. Helplines

Telephone numbers and opening hours of helplines that you can call to get tailored advice and support.

  • The National Domestic Violence Helpline
    The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
    0808 2000 247.

  • Rights of Women
    Family law advice line open on Mondays from 11am to 1pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm, Thursdays from 7pm to 9pm and Fridays from midday to 2pm.
    020 7251 6577,

  • National Centre for Domestic Violence
    Helpline for providing support applying for an injunction.
    0844 8044 999,

  • Forced Marriage Unit
    Helpline for people who are worried they might be forced into marriage or are worried about a friend or relative.
    020 7008 0151,

  • National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline
    Helpline providing specialist confidential support to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) communities, their family and friends, and agencies supporting them.
    0300 999 5428,

  • Men's Advice Line
    A confidential helpline for any man experiencing domestic violence and abuse from a partner (or ex-partner), open Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm.
    0808 801 0327,

  • Respect phoneline
    Confidential helpline offering advice, information and support to help you stop being violent and abusive to your partner.
    0808 802 4040.

  • Trafficking phoneline
    24 hour helpline for victims of trafficking in need of assistance, or if you are a nominated First Responder.
    0300 303 8151.

  • Rape Crisis
    Helpline for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted, open midday to 2.30pm and 7 to 9.30pm.
    0808 802 9999.

  • National Stalking Helpline
    Helpline that provides guidance and information to anybody who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking.
    0808 802 0300.

  • NSPCC
    Helpline if you are worried about a child or would like information on abuse, positive parenting or child safety.
    0808 800 5000.

  • Solidarity in crisis
    Out of hours telephone and in-person support service to help you through your crisis and find the right support for you. 0300 123 1922
    Text 07889 756 087
    Text 07889 756 083
    or email: outofhours-solidarity@certitude.org.uk

3. What is violence against women and girls (VAWG)?

VAWG is both a form of discrimination and a violation of human rights. It is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality in society. The United Nations (UN) defines VAWG as "any act of gender-based violence that is directed at a woman because she is a woman, or acts of violence which are suffered disproportionally by women".

In Lambeth we are committed to working to end violence against women and girls. We will do this by raising awareness of the issue and impact of violence against women and girls, providing a holistic support service to those who experience gender violence and holding to account those who commit violence.

In Lambeth, as with the HM Government and the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls strategies, our approach focuses on women and girls as the vast majority of victims of reported gender-based violence in Lambeth are female. However, we recognise that men and boys can also be victims of violence and we view all forms of violence and abuse as completely unacceptable, regardless of the gender of the individual who is experiencing the violence.

The vast majority of gender based violence is perpetrated by men against women and girls. VAWG brings together eight strands of policy under one umbrella:

  • domestic violence
  • sexual violence
  • stalking
  • trafficking for sexual exploitation
  • prostitution
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • crimes said to be committed in the name of 'honour'.

Domestic violence is defined by the Home Office as 'any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and/or emotional.'

Domestic violence is physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse within an intimate or family-type relationship. This can include forced marriage and so-called 'honour crimes'. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of social background, age, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity.

Sexual violence including rape - sexual contact without the consent of the woman/girl. Perpetrators range from total strangers to relatives and intimate partners, but most are known in some way. It can happen anywhere - in the family/household, workplace, public spaces, social settings, during war/conflict situations.

Stalking - repeated (that is on at least two occasions) harassment causing fear, alarm or distress. It can include threatening phone calls, texts or letters, damaging property, spying on and following the victim.

Prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation - women and girls are forced, coerced or deceived to enter into prostitution and/or to keep them there. Trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation and exploitation of women and children for the purposes of prostitution and domestic servitude across international borders and within countries ('internal trafficking').

Female genital mutilation/cutting - involves the complete or partial removal or alteration of external genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is mostly carried out on young girls at some time between infancy and the age of 15. Unlike male circumcision, which is legal in many countries, it is now illegal across much of the globe, and its extensive harmful health consequences are widely recognised.

Forced marriage - a marriage conducted without valid consent of one or both parties, where duress is a factor.

'Honour' based violence - violence committed to protect or defend the 'honour' of a family and/or community. Women, especially young women, are the most common targets, often where they have acted outside community boundaries of perceived acceptable feminine/sexual behaviour. In extreme cases the woman may be killed.

4. Information for Lambeth Practitioners

This section provides resources for use by practitioners working in Lambeth:

VAWG Briefings

VAWG Campaigns' materials

Please contact us dv@lambeth.gov.uk if you have any further questions.

5. Using these pages - covering your tracks

If you are worried about someone knowing you have visited these pages please read the following information on covering your tracks. If you want to get away from this page please use the ‘Leave this page quickly’ link at the top of the page.

It is possible for someone to view which sites or pages you have visited. Your browser may store the address as well as any images from websites you visit, and also words you have entered into search engines. The advice below should help you to remove any evidence of the sites you have visited. The instructions are given for several of the most popular browsers.

How to find out which browser you are using

To find out which browser you have, use the 'help' link at the top of your browser and one of the links will be called ‘About’ followed by the name of your browser.

Private browsing

We recommend that when you are using the internet on your computer (or a computer that people you know may have access to) you do so using 'Private Browsing'.

As you browse the web, your browser remembers lots of information for you: sites you've visited, files you've downloaded, and more. Private Browsing allows you to browse the Internet without saving any information about which sites and pages you have visited.

Click on the below link for your browser to learn how to privately browse.

If you create new bookmarks while private browsing your browser willkeep them when you stop. So avoid creating bookmarks during private browsing.

Anything you download to your computer will not be deleted when you finish private browsing (any files, documents, pictures, images etc that you save), so avoid saving any files unless you are sure you will remove them yourself.

I haven't used private browsing - what do I do?

Deleting your internet usage history

You can delete all of the history of your browsing, or just the pages you want to remove. It may be less noticeable if you only remove selected pages.

To delete selected pages in Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that you want to remove, right click on them and choose Delete.

Deleting cookies

Cookies are small text files which track your on-line sessions. They may also contain login information for websites such as shopping sites or email. If you delete all of your cookies this login information will no longer appear. It may be less noticeable to delete individual cookies.

To delete individual cookies find your cookies file by searching for cookie using the find or search option in Windows or Finder on a Mac. The file will be called Cookies or cookies.txt in Windows and cookies.txt or magiccookie on a Mac. You can then open the file and delete any cookies you want to remove.

Email

If you receive abusive emails you should save them or print them out and keep them as evidence. If you want to hide emails you have sent or received, go to your sent items folder and delete the email, then delete it from your deleted items. Remember that if you started an email and didn’t send it, it will be stored in your drafts folder.

If someone replies to your email, the text of your email may be at the bottom of the email you receive. To remove it scroll down and delete all of the text below their response and delete it then save the email.

General computer safety

This information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the Internet could be at a local library, a friend's house or at work.