Domestic abuse is defined as:
"an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. It can include threatening behaviour, violence or abuse - psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional - for those who are or have been in a relationship, or who are members of the same family."
This is regardless of gender and sexuality, and includes forced marriages and so-called honour-based violence.
New Legislation - 29th December 2015
Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship, S.76 Crime Act 2015
The new offence sends a clear message that this form of behaviour can constitute a serious offence in relation to the violation of trust and will provide better protection to victims experiencing repeated or continuous abuse. It recognises the harm caused by coercion or control, the cumulative impact on the victim and how a repeated pattern of abuse can be more injurious than a single incident. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a fine or both.
The offence occurs if:
- A person (perpetrator) repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (victim), that is controlling or coercive; and
- At time of the behaviour, both parties are personally connected; and
- The behaviour has a serious effect on the victim; and
- The perpetrator knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on the victim.
- The perpetrator and victim are personally connected if they are in an intimate personal relationship; or they live together and are either members of the same family; or they live together and have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.
There are two ways in which it can be proved that the perpetrators behaviour has a 'serious effect' on the victim:
If it causes the victim to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them; or if it causes the victim serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on their day-to-day activities
For this offence, behaviour must be engaged in 'repeatedly' or 'continuously'. Another, separate, element of the offence is that it must have a 'serious effect' on someone and one way of proving this is that it causes someone to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them.
Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare's Law)
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, or 'Clare's Law' as it's known, gives people a formal way to apply for a police check into the past of a person where there is a concern that a relationship may be, or may become abusive. This is available to anyone in a relationship or who has concerns for another person who is in a relationship.
For more information visit the Domestic Violence Disclosure page.
Three steps to escaping domestic violence
An information and advice leaflet is also available via the Home Office website. It covers advice on the three steps to escaping violence and abuse:
- How to report the abuse
- How to take action
- How to keep safe from abuse.
It brings together such issues as ’honour’-based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, dowry abuse, domestic and sexual abuse, and having no recourse to public funds. The leaflet is available in 12 other languages, including Welsh.
Advice and information
We have created a section on our website which offers information for women who are experiencing domestic abuse. These pages include advice and contact details for organisations who can help you out.
We have created a section on our website which offers information for men who are experiencing domestic abuse. These pages include advice and contact details for organisations who can help you out.
The charity Women's Aid have created an interactive website called "The Hideout" which gives children and young people information about domestic abuse that is easy to read and understand.
We have created a section on our website which offers information for friends and family who are concerned that a relative or friend may be experiencing domestic abuse.
We have created a section on our website which offers support for members of gypsy and travelling communities who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
We have created a section on our website with advice specifically for members of ethnic and religious communities who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
We have created a section on our website aimed at supporting those from Eastern European countries who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
We have created a section on our website which offers support to members of LGBT communities who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
This section provides advice and information for parents about children witnessing domestic abuse.