DOMESTIC abuse is not easy to discuss, but it is very important that victims, their friends and families know who to go to for help. Army life can also make it more difficult to take the first steps to seeking support because it can involve additional factors such as housing, the lack of proximity to family and friends and often financial dependence on a partner. The following is an overview of how to keep safe and suggestions about who to talk to…
Domestic abuse includes violence, controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour as well as psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse between those aged 16 and over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
I am a victim of a violent incident
If you are in immediate danger or your life is being threatened you should call 999. All domestic abuse calls are considered high priority. The MOD police or RMP may also attend if you are living in Service Families Accommodation.
What will the Army do?
The Armed Forces does not condone any form of domestic abuse. Many victims are reluctant to report abuse because of the potential impact on the perpetrator’s career and therefore family. Be reassured that command follows clear guidance and any decisions about your quarter, child’s education, finances or employment will be made with the appropriate agencies there to support you.
My partner is becoming very aggressive and controlling
The Army Welfare Service (AWS) can support soldiers and their families who are suffering domestic abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. They understand the unique difficulties of military life and that there will often be feelings of apprehension or embarrassment about seeking assistance. However, AWS has a strict confidentiality code which will be explained at the outset.
If there is no immediate danger or threat to life, but you are concerned for your safety and would like advice, call 101 and ask for the police safeguarding team that deals with domestic abuse – this should particularly be considered if you have children.
I want to leave an abusive relationship
This is one of the most difficult decisions to make, particularly if you have children. If it has been disclosed that domestic abuse has occurred in a household where there are children, AWS has a professional and legal obligation to share information to safeguard them. AWS will discuss options with you around keeping safe whether you wish to remain in the relationship or not. The most vulnerable and volatile time is around separation, therefore additional services should be considered to ensure the safety of the adult wishing to leave the relationship.
Stepping Stones Homes exist for women and children with a military connection who need temporary accommodation, whether as a result of homelessness, marital breakdown, moving house or compassionate reasons. The two homes offer a safe homely environment and staff are trained to support families in welfare, finance, immigration and emotional issues. Referrals and enquiries can be through unit welfare teams, AWS, SSAFA caseworkers or direct via SSAFA.
My friend/neighbour is a victim of domestic abuse
If you think that your friend or neighbour may be in immediate danger or there is a threat to their life you should call 999. If the victim is not in immediate danger then they should be encouraged to seek help through any of the organisations listed below. If you are concerned about the wellbeing of a child, you have a duty to report your concerns to Children’s Services or AWS.
Showing that you care is very important to victims of domestic abuse and some of the ways you could help support someone is by offering them a safe place to come to so they can use the internet or telephone and helping them to contact organisations that can provide support.
I am living overseas
If you are living overseas it can be difficult being away from close friends and family but there are a number of organisations that provide you with help and support. There is a section on worldwide support on the Domestic abuse: guidance and support for the Armed Forces community at www.gov.uk/government/publications/armed-forces-domestic-abuse-worldwide-support
I am in Germany
bfgnet.de/community/family-support/support-helplines.html lists all the emergency and non-emergency support available, together with contact details. There is also specific information on domestic abuse at bfgnet.de/search.html?searchphrase=all&searchword=domestic%20abuse
I am in Cyprus
Where to get help
Domestic abuse: guidance and support for the Armed Forces community: www.gov.uk/government/collections/domestic-abuse-guidance-and-support-for-the-armed-forces-community
Army Welfare Service
To contact AWS Intake and Assessment Teams (IAT) for Scotland, Northern Ireland, Catterick, Preston, London, Worthy Down, Kent and International, call 01904 882053 or 882054 (Mil: 99477 3053 or 3054).
For all other areas, contact the local teams through the military directory of enquiries on 02072 189000 or email AWS-HQ-IAT@mod.uk
Stepping Stones Homes: www.ssafa.org.uk
English National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 80 10 800 http://livefearfree.gov.wales/splash?orig=/
Women’s Aid Federation (Northern Ireland): 0800 917 1414 www.womensaidni.org
Scottish Women’s Aid: 0800 027 1234 www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk
National Centre for Domestic Violence: 0844 8044 999 www.ncdv.org.uk
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Mankind Initiative: 01823 334244 http://new.mankind.org.uk/
Broken Rainbow: 0800 999 5428 http://www.brokenrainbow.org.uk/help/helpline
ChildLine: 0800 1111 www.thehideout.org.uk
Perpetrator programmes and support: 0808 802 4040 www.respectphoneline.org.uk
Army Families Federation: www.aff.org.uk
If you are the serving soldier, Joint Service Policy (JSP) 913 tri-Service Policy on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence and the Army Briefing Note (ABN) Serial No: 103 –1 are available on the Army Intranet.