If you think someone you know is or has been experiencing domestic violence, there are lots of ways you can help them. Read more about what is domestic violence.

People’s reactions to experiencing domestic violence can vary. They may be afraid, angry or have no outward reaction at all. They might even act in ways that seem unusual to you, even laughing at seemingly inappropriate times or trivialising what has happened to them.

Disclosures can come in many forms – it could be something said jokingly, a story that someone starts to tell then stops and says it doesn't matter, or it could be a question. You are not expected to be a professional counsellor, but how someone responds to a first disclosure can be really important. It can take time for a person to decide what they want to do and how they want to move forward.

Steps to take immediately in emergency:

  • Is the person in an immediate danger? If yes, you can report to the Police and/or A & E, call 999. When calling 999 there is an option for silent support if talking will put you in danger.
  • Finding a safe space. If possible, help and find somewhere the person feels safe.
  • On Campus if you or another person feels unsafe or needs help you can call security on 0114 225 8888.
  • Off Campus If you or the person you know need to get home or somewhere else safely, use the Hallam Safe Taxi Scheme.
  • Domestic violence is mainly about power and control. The most important thing is to respond in a way that maximizes the survivor's choice and control over what happens next. You can simply ask them what they need or want. They might not make the same decision you would; however, only they can decide what is best for them. You can help them explore options, but avoid telling them what they should do.


  • Listen. Just taking the time to listen to someone and talk about what has happened can help. These six active listening tips might help you support them.
  • Give options. When they have finished talking ask them if they are ok to talk through some possible options and next steps. Remember, it is important that they decide what they want to do.


  • They might not want to report to the police or the University. There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose not to report domestic violence.
  • They might be concerned that people won’t believe them or may not identify what occurred as domestic violence
  • They may be concerned who else might be informed.
  • They may have fear of or confusion about the criminal justice system or what happens if you report it to the university.
  • Let them know that you believe them and support their decisions.
  • Remind them that no one, regardless of relationship or status, has the right to hurt them and that no matter what, it is not their fault that this occurred.
  • Connect them with resources that can help them understand what happens if you report to the police and or the university.

Things to avoid

  • Just saying "it’s not your fault" (without listening to the survivor's story)
  • Using key ‘catch phrases’ or common sayings – e.g. “it will all be better with time"
  • Probing for details. Let them tell you what has happened in their own time
  • Blaming them – e.g. “why did you let it go on for so long?”
  • Showing disgust or shock
  • Smirking and showing obvious disbelief
  • "Why didn’t you say straight away? Why are you only coming forward now?"
  • Trivialising the experience – i.e. “it happens when the relationship breaks down”


  • Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) They can speak to specially trained members of student wellbeing team. We can help them to go through your options: including reporting the incident to police, to the university, or to access medical and emotional support only and make no formal report. To speak to a SVLO, they can report with personal details and will be contacted to arrange an appointment. Students and staff can also report an incident anonymously
  • Report to the police. Call 999 in an emergency or 101 for non-emergencies. If the person you know is thinking of reporting to the police then Rights of Women have detailed advice about reporting to the police and a guide to criminal investigations. A SVLO can support the student with reporting the crime if they would wish to do so. If you have witnessed a domestic abuse incident you also can report it to the police directly.
  • Report the incident anonymously. You can report online to Crimestoppersor call 0800 555 111.
  • Report the incident through University disciplinary processes. An SVLO can help you make a report to the disciplinary team. If you choose to name a member of staff or a student in your report, there are procedures which set out the actions the university may take. This may include carrying out conduct investigations.

    When you report an allegation of misconduct to the University, we have a dedicated team who will consider your allegation and liaise with you regarding next steps.

    It is likely that you will be invited to meet with one of the team to discuss your allegation in detail to establish the details of the matter. We do this using student regulations and policies such as the Disciplinary Regulations for students and the Student Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedure which are available on shuspace.

    The full range of possible sanctions is available in section 48 of the Disciplinary Regulations.


If you think you or someone you know has been experiencing domestic abuse there are a variety of support options available. You have the right to choose which support options you wish to access.

Sheffield Hallam support for students

  • Student Wellbeing. The wellbeing team are available for advice and guidance for specific issues and for ongoing wellbeing support for students. They can support you if you are concerned about your behaviour. Register to book an appointment.
  • Students’ Union Advice Team. The Students' Union provides a confidential, non-judgemental and free service available to all Sheffield Hallam University students. It is independent from the university, so issues with the advice service will not appear on your SHU file without your consent.

    The advice team provides specialist advice and support on academic issues such as concerns about your university experience, formal complaints and appeals, disciplinary hearings and academic misconduct investigations.

Sheffield Hallam Support for Staff

  • Trade unions. Sheffield Hallam University recognises UNISON, GMB, UNITE and UCU. Staff who are members can contact them for support and advice.
  • Local Human Resources contacts. If you are a member of staff or manager your HR partner will be able to identify the support that’s available for you.
  • Staff wellbeing. The University's staff wellbeing pages link to a range of support services, including staff counselling.

Other Support Services


There are two ways you can report something