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It is estimated that in the UK, there are 22 deaf women at risk of domestic abuse every day.  Deaf women, compared to hearing women, are twice as likely to suffer from domestic abuse. The deaf community is small, so deaf women may be scared of reporting their perpetrators. We know also that BSL can play a key role in the abuse, as every word and expression could be a potential trigger. 


Warning signs

We understand that if your perpetrator is active within the deaf community they will know how to exploit your communication skills which can make it difficult for you to reach out, even to your closest friends and family.  Deaf women experience, and are impacted by domestic abuse, in the same way as hearing women but we know there are some tactics that you may additionally experience.  You will very likely feel isolated from family, friends, services, resources and options. 

Your partner may:

  • remove your communication devices
  • intimidate you through gestures, facial expressions, or exaggerated signs, floor stomping and pounding on the table or door
  • sign very close to your face when they are angry
  • criticise your British sign language (BSL) skills or communication style
  • not inform you when people try to call on the phone or try to catch your attention
  • exclude you from important conversations
  • leave you out in social situations with hearing people
  • talk negatively about the deaf community
  • wrongly interpret to manipulate the situation if the police or other services are called
  • not allow children to use BSL to talk with you
  • not allow children to be proud of deaf culture
  • criticize your speech and English skills

What WAEML has in place for deaf women, children and young people?

WOMENSAIDVOICED from Deaf Action on Vimeo.


We recognise information can travel quickly within a Deaf, DeafBlind or hard of hearing community, compromising confidentiality and your safety.

To improve deaf people’s support if they are experiencing domestic abuse we have put the following services in place:

Email:  you can email us at
Mobile phone service: 0771591894
Mini com:  0131 561 9924
Loop System: we have a loop system installed within our central office in Dalkeith.  We also have a portable loop system available so if you require this for outreach visits or whilst visiting any of other centres let a support worker know.
BSL interpreters: we can arrange a female interpreter if you need to use BSL, if there is someone specifically that you would not wish us to use please just let us know.