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Supporting people who are at risk or have experienced Forced Marriage

Supporting people who are at risk or have experienced Forced Marriage

If you suspect a client is at risk of or is in a Forced Marriage (FM) and want to leave, their safety comes first.

Often, people who are being forced into marriage can’t talk about what’s happening to them. Emotional pressure from their family might stop them from saying anything to anyone else. The lack of control over their own decisions can lead them to depression and self-harm.

As a professional, you may be the only person that they might trust to help them. It is therefore important that you contact one of the specialist services or call the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) on 020 7008 0151 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) or out of hours call the Foreign Office Response Centre: 020 7008 1500.

If there is any immediate danger you have to report to the police (dial 999) and, in the case of children, to your local social services department.

The Forced Marriage Unit can provide help and advice if:

  • the person you know is living in the UK and at risk of a Forced Marriage
  • is already in a forced marriage and wants to leave but they feel in danger
  • the person you are concerned about has been taken overseas.

For those that have been taken overseas already, You can also call the British Embassy or High Commission of the country they are in, who will work with the FMU in Britain to try and get them home safely. Find a British Embassy overseas (External link).

It will help if you can provide:

  • the person’s name
  • details of where the person is
  • flight details
  • passport details
  • when you last heard from them
  • when they are/were due back.

It is not only victims of violence and abuse who can be traumatised by their experience. Those who help them can experience difficult reactions too. This is known as vicarious trauma .

You may also need to undertake or understand more about undertaking a  risk and needs assessment. You may also need to consider safety planning with your client.

General Guidance

The UK Government have published the Multi-Agency Statutory Guidance (External link) for dealing with forced marriage which is for all people and bodies who exercise public function in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.

The Government has also produced step-by-step guidance (External link) for frontline workers such as health professionals and police, Multi-Agency practice guidelines and handling cases of forced marriage.


In addition to the general guidance, you will need to refer to your Force specific guidelines available on the internal intranet. This should outline how you should deal with cases of HBV and Forced Marriage, partner agencies available for advice and who to refer information to including force leads and the department responsible for dealing with such offences.

Policies & Guidance

Find relevant guidance and information on the VAWDASV Act.

Find out more


About Live Fear Free

Live Fear Free is a Welsh Government website, providing information and advice for those suffering with violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

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