What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic Abuse is defined by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 in the following way:
“The behaviour of a person (“A”) towards another person (“B”) is “domestic abuse” if:
(a) A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other, and
(b) the behaviour is abusive.
Behaviour is “abusive” if it consists of any of the following:
(a) physical or sexual abuse;
(b) violent or threatening behaviour;
(c) controlling or coercive behaviour (controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is 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.
(d) economic abuse (any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on B’s ability to acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or obtain goods or services.
(e) psychological, emotional or other abuse; and it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.
Domestic abuse can ultimately destroy people’s lives. It is a pattern of behaviour that often happens behind closed doors and remains unreported. It is an issue that can affect anyone – across all social, geographical and cultural groups. It causes harm to both adults and children, both directly and indirectly. Domestic abuse can also produce patterns of behaviour that are often replicated from generation to generation and these inter-generational cycles must be broken.
The inclusion of young people aged 16 and 17 aims to increase awareness that young people in this age group do experience domestic abuse in relationships with their peers.
The impact of domestic abuse on children
Living with domestic abuse has a huge impact on children and young people, both short-term and long-term. The SVPP has developed a Domestic Violence and Abuse and its impact on children Factsheet to support professionals
Where there is domestic abuse in a household, the wellbeing of any children must be promoted and all assessments must consider the need to safeguard the children, including unborn children, physically but also as witnesses to the abuse.
More information about how chidlren are affected by domestic abuse can be found at:
Where can I go for help with domestic abuse?
The dedicated support line for victims of domestic abuse is 01225 775276 (Monday to Friday 8am-5pm) and 01225 712880 out of hours (5pm – 8am Monday to Friday, and 24 hours at the weekends). Please note this is not an emergency service – if you or someone else is at immediate risk of harm due to domestic abuse, please call 999.
The commissioned support service for domestic abuse in Wiltshire is FearFree, 01225 775276. They provide support for victims, perpetrators and children impacted by domestic abuse.
Wiltshire Council’s website also lists other places for support, locally and nationally, for male and female victims of domestic abuse.
Other useful links for professionals are:
Wiltshire’s Domestic Abuse Strategy
Wiltshire's Domestic Abuse Strategy and Wiltshire's Strategy for the Provision of Domestic Abuse Support within Safe Accommodation were published in October 2021. Both strategies have been produced by the Wiltshire Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board (DALPB). The DALPB is a subgroup of Wiltshire’s Community Safety Partnership and is made up of representatives from Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Clinical Commissioning Group, National Probation Service and our community and voluntary sector. The strategy aims to show that, together, we are committed to achieving our shared goals on preventing, supporting and safeguarding those impacted by domestic abuse in Wiltshire, and ensuring access to services early and ensure greater accountability and justice is sought against those perpetrating it.
In May 2023 multi-agency members of Wiltshire’s Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board reviewed the progress made against the Wiltshire Domestic Abuse Strategy in Year 2. The Year 2 Implementation Plan Review can be found here.
The introduction of the new Domestic Abuse Act 2021 is an integral piece of legislation that will help to protect and safeguard those impacted by domestic abuse. One of the specifications in this Act is for local authority areas to develop a strategy for the provision of domestic abuse support within safe accommodation. Wiltshire has produced its own version of this which outlines how the partnership will work collaboratively to provide victims and their families who have been impacted by domestic abuse a range of options to remain safe at home or access suitable alternative safe accommodation and support. This work seeks to complement existing work taking place across the county to address health and wellbeing, community safety and housing needs of those who are experiencing domestic abuse in Wiltshire.
Domestic abuse is a complex area. Wiltshire have published a new Domestic Abuse Health Needs Assessment (HNA). This aims to bring together multiple sources of data to create a more comprehensive picture of domestic abuse in Wiltshire. A presentation of the key findings can also be found here.
Domestic Abuse Toolkit for Employers
Wiltshire have recently conducted a Domestic Homicide Review which is awaiting sign-off by the Home Office. One of the recommendations from that review relates to the importance of employers providing support for their employees who may be affected by Domestic Abuse. We spend a lot of our time at work, and so employers can have a key role in helping both victims and perpetrators get the support they need to improve their lives and be free of Domestic Abuse. We would encourage all our partners to look at what policies their organisations have for staff, and would promote the use of the Business in the Community Toolkit for Domestic Abuse to help organisations create a policy, or improve an existing one. We would also advise all agencies to look at signing up to the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse, which also provides guidance and support to employers.
Toolkit for Employers
Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse website
Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs)
Domestic Homicide Reviews are carried out when an incident of domestic abuse results in a death of the victim. You can find out more about DHRs here.