Violence Against Women and Girls Toolkit

This toolkit is about taking practical steps together to make our county safer for women and girls. Everyone should feel empowered to play their part in creating positive change and whatever your area of work, we encourage you to pledge your commitment to women’s safety. 

What is Violence against Women and Girls 

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) covers a range of unacceptable and deeply distressing crimes.

It can include

  • domestic violence and abuse

  • sexual violence and rape

  • stalking and harassment

  • trafficking of women

  • female genital mutilation

  • intimidation and harassment at work, in education or in public

  • forced prostitution

  • forced marriage

  • ‘honour’ crimes

  • In addition to harassment and violence in physical public spaces, women and girls are also at risk of harassment and abuse in the online space. Crimes that take place online can have additional considerations, for example, it maybe easier for the perpetrator to remain unknown or for them to carry out their abuse from any location.

Violence can affect women and girls regardless of their age, race or religion, their socioeconomic background, sexual orientation or marital status. Violence takes place in every locality across the UK and can happen in relationships, in families, and in communities.

What can you do

Use empowering language:

  • Language matters. We perceive the world around us through words but words can have different meanings and interpretations. Language frames not only how we understand the problem but also how effectively we will respond to it.

  • Whether you are speaking in a group about the problem of violence against women in the community, talking to a friend or with someone who has been affected by violence, language can do justice or cause harm.

  • If you are a supporter speaking in public or at a community event, avoid referring to women who had violence inflicted on them as ‘victims’ as that term may not reflect a woman’s full identity, but instead define her in terms of something that is only part of her experience. A better choice would be using ’victim/survivor’ terminology as it acknowledges the crime committed against a woman while at the same time recognising her agency and life beyond violence.

Stay informed and educate yourself:

  • Educate yourself about the causes, drivers and consequences of violence against women. Learn more about domestic and family violence and sexual violence and help spread that knowledge.

  • In our technology-saturated world, women are subjected to violence through their phone and online too. This includes stalking, control, threats, bullying and image-based abuse both in the context of domestic and family violence and more generally it is important to know how to use technology carefully to help find safety for yourself and other people who maybe subjected to technology-facilitated abuse.

Respond to someone disclosing violence appropriately:

  • If you need to support someone who has disclosed to you the violence inflicted on them, or who has asked you for help, language matters immensely.

  • Whoever it maybe, your friend, colleague or family member, respond appropriately and make sure that she feels supported and encouraged to talk to you and seek help. Listen and believe.

  • Never dismiss family violence as a just “a domestic” or suggest that sexual violence might have been a “misunderstanding”.

  • Provide support. Sometimes practical assistance such as assisting with shopping or picking children up from school (with proper authorisation) can be of great help. Never judge or blame a woman about the violence, regardless of the circumstances or her background.

Speak up:

  • Violence is never okay. Challenge practices that condone violence against women and encourage others to speak up. Sexist jokes are never okay no matter the circumstances they are told in or the position of a teller.

  • As a ‘bystander’ - someone who observes an act of violence, discrimination or other unacceptable or offensive behaviour, you can play a powerful role in preventing and responding to violence against women. Sexism and misogyny underpin violence against women, challenge safely where you can. Tell your friends that sexist jokes are not funny and challenge them where you safely can, if they speak about women in a derogatory way. If you can, confront colleagues whose comments are sexist, blame the victim or minimise issues of violence.

  • If you are a manager, make sure that everyone in the office is treated fairly and has the chance to reach their potential. Do not let your perception of their gender distort your decisions.

Reporting

Seek help immediately:

  • If you are feeling in danger, you ring the Police 999 immediately, if not in immediate danger please report 101 or online at information on how to make a report to Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

  • If you hear or see a violent or abusive situation happening, do not turn your back. If it is safe you could try to defuse the situation by intervening. But if you feel that maybe dangerous, or if you think a person is being hurt or about to be hurt, you should ring the Police on 999 immediately.

Support

The following organisations can offer support and advice if you have been the victim of violence:

End Violence Against Women

  • a group of feminist organisations and experts from across the UK, working to end violence against women and girls in all its forms.

  • Made up of over 120 specialist women’s support services, researchers, activists, survivors and NGOs, we believe that violence is not inevitable and works to tear up the systems that enable us to build a fairer world in its place.

  • Information on how to End Violence Against Women

Women’s Aid Cambridge

  • Cambridge Women's Aid provides dedicated and specialist services to women and children affected by domestic abuse.

  • Information, advice and support online via Live Chat, on Wednesdays 3:00pm to 5:00pm.

  • Safe refuge in Cambridge City

  • One to one help for women living in Cambridge City, South Cambs and East Cambs.

  • Advice for professionals supporting women living in Cambridge City, South Cambs and East Cambs.

  • Support groups for women to explore the dynamics of abusive relationships.

  • Support groups with activities for group and peer support.

  • Dedicated services for children whose mothers/carers we are supporting.

  • Information about Cambridge Women's Aid supporting women affected by domestic abuse

Rape Crisis Freephone Helpline

National Domestic Violence Helpline

  • Is a charity that provides specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Refuge provides a national network of specialist services, including emergency refuge accommodation, community outreach, independent domestic violence advocacy, culturally specific services and a team of child support workers.

  • Telephone 0808 2000 247

  • Information about Refuge National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Karma Nirvana

Galop - LGBT and anti-violence charity

Childline

  • A confidential and free online and phone counselling service for those aged under 19 anywhere in the UK, available by phone on 0800 1111 and online.

  • Telephone 0800 1111

  • Information about Childline

Respect