In an emergency always dial 999
On 29 April 2021, the Domestic Abuse Act became law.
What will the Domestic Abuse Act do?
The Act creates, for the first time, a legal definition of domestic abuse, to ensure that domestic abuse is properly understood, considered unacceptable and actively challenged across statutory agencies and in public attitudes
What is the new statutory definition?
The definition of domestic abuse is in two parts. The first part deals with the relationship between the abuser and the abused. The second part defines what constitutes abusive behaviour
There are two criteria governing the relationship between the abuser and the abused
- both the person who is carrying out the behaviour and the person to whom the behaviour is directed towards must be aged 16 or over
- both persons must be “personally connected” (including ex-partners and family members)
Abusive behaviour directed at a person under 16 would be dealt with as child abuse rather than domestic abuse
Behaviour is to be regarded as ‘abusive’ if it consists of any of the following:
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Violent or threatening behaviour
- Controlling or coercive behaviour
- Economic abuse
- Psychological, emotional or other abuse.
The act also recognises a child who sees or hears or experiences domestic the effects of the abuse and treats them as victims of domestic abuse where they are related to either the abuser or the abused
The Act also includes a new statutory duty on local authorities to deliver accommodation-based support to victims of domestic abuse. (SCC as “Tier one” to deliver services and district councils as “Tier two” to collaborate).
The Act also introduced other measures to protect and support victims. Including a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Order (DAPO), as well as improving the criminal justice response by, for example, preventing the cross-examination of victims in family court proceedings by the abuser.
The Act also creates the national Domestic Abuse Commissioner role. This is an “independent voice” that speaks on behalf of victims and survivors. Using the Act’s statutory powers, the DA Commissioner will raise public awareness and hold both agencies and Government to account in tackling domestic abuse
Who can use these services
Somerset’s domestic abuse services are open to anyone who needs specialist support. It’s important to remember that couples counselling is not recommended and could be dangerous. Instead it’s always best to speak to a specialist service, such as Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (SIDAS) or Victim Support.
What you can do if you think it is happening to a friend
For people suffering domestic abuse, the support of a trusted friend can be invaluable. It is important that the person knows you believe them and that they are not alone. Try not to judge or blame either party. Encourage your friend to contact one of the agencies who can help. If you witness an assault, phone the police. Do not intervene physically.
The police take domestic abuse very seriously and they have powers to act.
As well as the police, there are specialist organisations which offer support and practical advice. Their services are confidential, and in many cases, completely free. Useful numbers are available in the ‘Links to other services’ section of the Somerset Survivors website.
In an emergency always dial 999
Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Services (SIDAS)
The support line 0800 694 9999 is a single point of contact for confidential advice and support to any person concerned about domestic abuse in the Avon and Somerset area.
To speak to a SIDAS worker, phone the local support helpline (0800 694 9999) and select the option for Somerset. If no one can answer your call, leave a number and a safe time to call and they will get back to you.
For more information and to find out what services are available, please visit the Somerset Survivors website.
The Somerset Survivors website provides information, help and support for anyone affected by domestic abuse in Somerset, including a directory of local and national services.
National Centre for Domestic Violence
NCDV provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation.
National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 200 0247
The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline is for women experiencing physical, emotional or sexual violence in the home. The helpline is a member of Language Line and can provide access to an interpreter for non-English speaking callers. The helpline can also access the BT Type Talk Service for deaf callers. They provide advice, information and support. Callers can be referred to local refuges and emergency and temporary accommodation. This line is free, confidential and open 24-hours a day. Or visit the Women’s Aid website or Refuge website.
Men’s Advice Line and Enquires (MALE) – 0808 801 0327
MALE is a Home Office supported advice and support service for men in abusive relationships.
National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
A helpline offering support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experiencing domestic abuse.
Elder Abuse – 0808 808 8141
Action On Elder Abuse operates in the UK and Ireland and is a confidential freefone helpline for anyone concerned in any way about the abuse of older people. The phone line is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Victim Support (Somerset) – 0300 303 1972
This offers support and signposting for all victims of crime, including domestic abuse.
National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 200 0247
NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) Helpline – 0808 800 5000
A website offering support for children and young people living with domestic abuse.
Forced Marriage Unit – 0207 008 0151
Confidential advice and assistance if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you have been forced into.
For perpetrators of Domestic Abuse
Anger management is not recommended and could actually be dangerous.
For people who want help to change their controlling behaviour, Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (SIDAS) offers a voluntary, behavioural change group work programme.
This programme encourages people to take responsibility for their behaviour and understand the impact on their partner and children.
For more information, phone SIDAS Perpetrator Programme on 0800 694 9999 or for other support contact Respect on 0845 122 8609