Staying and feeling safe
This section contains information about staying and feeling safe in Plymouth.
Safety is a fundamental need for everyone, no matter where you live or what you do. Feeling safe and secure allows us to enjoy our lives and surroundings without fear.
Why safety matters
Protecting Your Loved Ones
Safety is not just about you; it's about the people you care about. By knowing how to identify and report issues like domestic abuse, child abuse, and adult neglect, you can help protect vulnerable individuals and ensure their well-being.
Your personal wellbeing
Feeling safe is essential for your mental and physical health. When you're aware of safe places in Plymouth and understand how to address anti-social behaviour, discrimination, and hate crimes, you can enjoy your surroundings with peace of mind.
Modern slavery is an issue that affects vulnerable individuals. By understanding what modern slavery is and how to recognise it, you can play a role in preventing this injustice.
Explore the articles below to view information, advice and signposting to organisations and services that can help you.
What is abuse?
Knowing what abuse is helps us all recognise it when it happens.
- Abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual or financial.
- The abuser can be a partner, ex-partner, family member, community leader or member, a friend, someone at work or a stranger.
- It can happen to anyone: an adult or a child, female or male.
- It can happen at home or in a public place like a community centre, school or work.
- It can be in person, or through technology and online.
It's ALL harmful
Below you will see some examples of abusive behaviour. Sometimes people experience one or more of these at once.
Abuse can happen to anyone, but we know these behaviours disproportionately affect women and girls.
Abuse in a public place
This can include:
- Making sexually explicit comments or gestures in public - whether on the street, in a bar, on public transport or in another public place
- Leering or unwanted staring
- Sitting uncomfortably close on public transport
- Unwanted questions about someone's sex life
- Unwanted sexual attention or asking for sex
- Upskirting (taking pictures or filming up someone's skirt without them knowing)
- Following someone
- Stalking (a pattern of obsessive behaviour which can include sending unwanted presents, making unwanted communication, damaging property, and physical or sexual assault. This can be perpetrated by an ex-intimate partner, a stranger or anyone known to the victim)
- Groping (unwanted sexual touching anywhere on the body, which could be sexual assault)
- Spiking (when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person's drink or their body without their knowledge and/or consent)
Abuse at work or in an education setting
This can include:
- Inappropriate comments (including ones of a sexual nature), gestures or touching
- Repeated pressure to go out on a date
- Asking for sexual activity in exchange for promotion
This can include:
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual assault (touching sexually without consent)
- Getting someone to engage in sexual activity without their explicit consent
- 'Stealthing' (removing a condom during sex without the other person knowing)
- Choking, slapping or spitting on someone during sex without their consent
- Assault by penetration (penetration of the vagina or anus using anything other than a penis without consent)
- 'Sex for rent' (giving someone accommodation in exchange for sexual activity)
- Sexual exploitation
- Grooming someone for sex
This can include:
- Making unwanted sexually explicit comments on social media
- Sending unwanted sexual messages to someone
- Cyberflashing (sending someone an explicit picture that they haven't asked for)
- Putting pressure on someone to send nude pictures of themselves
- Cyberstalking (the use of the internet and other technologies to harass or stalk another person online)
- Image-based abuse, also known as "revenge porn" (posting sexually explicit images or videos of a person on the internet without their consent, typically by a former sexual partner)
This can include:
- Emotional or psychological abuse (e.g. putting someone down, playing mind games, making them feel they're to blame for everything or that they're crazy - also known as gaslighting)
- Controlling or coercive behaviour (e.g. controlling someone's finances, telling them who they can see, telling them what they can wear)
- Stalking (this can occur within an ex-intimate partner setting, e.g. monitoring someone's phone, tracking their movements)
- Economic abuse (e.g. coerced debt, controlling spending, bank accounts, investments, mortgages, benefit payments)
- Violent or threatening behaviour (e.g. non-fatal strangulation)
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse (see above)
- So-called 'honour'-based abuse (harmful things that are done in the name of a family's or community's so-called 'honour')
- Forced marriage
Children and young people under the age of 16 can also be victims of domestic abuse if they see, hear or experience the effects of it and are related to or under parental responsibility of the victim or perpetrator.
Domestic abuse doesn't necessarily need to be between partners who live together, it could be between a child and parent or people living separately.
Additional forms of abuse
These can include:
- Female genital mutilation
- Modern slavery
How to step in safely
Intervening doesn't have to be dramatic or confrontational. Even small acts of recognition and support can help stop abuse. Here are four simple ways to help you step in safely - just think STOP.
You can show your disapproval at what is going on for example, by not laughing and saying, 'I don't think that's funny'. Or you could be more direct if you feel it's safe to do so, by saying it's unacceptable and telling them to stop.
You could tell someone in charge, like the bar staff if you're in a pub or club, Human Resources (HR) if you're at work, or the train guard or bus driver if you're on public transport. You could also tell another member of the public or a passer-by and see if they're willing to help - working together can be a safer, more effective way to intervene. It is important to check in with the victim on who they want to tell, or if they want to call the police.
You can ask the victim if they're OK. You could capture what's happening on your phone and ask if they want the footage to report the incident, and you could offer to help report it. You could also help others already giving support. If it's someone you know, check in with them when they are alone and offer to help or support them to report it if they want. If you think they might be in an abusive relationship, there is expert advice on what you can do and support available online or on the National Domestic Abuse Helpline.
Provide a diversion
Sometimes what's best in the moment is creating a distraction, giving the person being targeted a chance to move away or allowing others to get help. You could strike up a conversation with the victim, e.g. ask for directions, or where the next stop is on the bus, or pretend you know them. If you're at work, you could make up an excuse to speak to them about an unrelated task. You could also try dropping something nearby or creating some other minor commotion.
Depending on the situation, where you are and who's involved, you can use just one or a combination of these tactics. By standing against all forms of abuse, and holding perpetrators accountable, we can create a society where women and girls are safe.
If you think somebody is in immediate danger, call 999.