If you report domestic abuse to the police, your case will most likely be dealt with by a Community Safety Unit. If you are a female living in West London aged 13+ the police can refer you to Advance so we can provide extra support through the process.

If the police arrest and charge your partner/husband/son/other relative, the case passes to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The police will then make a decision whether to keep the abuser in custody or to release him on bail. If they release him on bail there may be bail conditions attached to it, such not to contact you or not to enter your address. If the abuser is kept in custody he can make two applications for bail.

All cases start with an initial hearing in the Magistrates Court. The abuser can then chose whether he wants a Magistrates or Crown Court for the next hearing, unless the judge decides it must go to Crown Court. Some areas have a specialist domestic violence court (SDVC) where your case will go; these are designed to protect domestic abuse survivors. Where an area does not have an SDVC, there may still be other measures in place to ensure your needs are prioritised.

You will only be called to give evidence if the abuser has pleaded not guilty at the initial hearing. If he pleads guilty, or if he is found guilty after the evidence is heard, then the court will usually adjourn for reports from the Probation Service before sentencing. Should you be required to go to court to give evidence, the officer in the case and witness care unit should contact you to inform you about the trial date, special measures and explain the Victim Personal Statement. It is also important to think about getting a restraining order to prevent the abuser contacting you and coming to your property throughout this period. We appreciate that giving evidence at court may be very stressful, so organisations like Advance offer support to victims at this time.

To find out more about who can support you, call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.