What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is defined as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, by a partner or ex-partner.
It is very common and both women and men can experience it.
Domestic abuse can include, although it is not limited to, the following:
- Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
- Psychological and/or emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Online or digital abuse
Recognising Domestic Abuse
Although every situation is unique, there are common factors that link the experience of an abusive relationship. Acknowledging these factors is an important step in preventing and stopping the abuse.
This list can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship.
- Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting, name calling, verbally threatening. • Pressure tactics: sulking, threatening to withhold money, taking away or destroying your mobile, threatening self-harm and suicide
- Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
- Breaking trust: lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
- Isolation: monitoring or blocking your phone calls, e-mails and social media accounts, telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives; shutting you in the house.
- Harassment: following you, checking up on you, not allowing you any privacy, repeatedly checking to see who has phoned you, embarrassing you in public, accompanying you everywhere you go.
- Threats: making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, breaking things; punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun, threatening to kill or harm you and the children, threatening to kill or harm family pets, threats of suicide.
- Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, having sex with you when you don’t want it, forcing you to look at pornographic material, constant pressure and harassment into having sex when you don’t want to, forcing you to have sex with other people
- Physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, kicking, burning, strangling, pinning you down, holding you by the neck, restraining you.
- Denial: saying the abuse doesn’t happen, saying you caused the abuse, saying you wind him/her up, saying he can’t control his anger, being publicly gentle and patient, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.
Support Services Contact
National Domestic Violence Helpline
Run in partnership between Woman’s Aid and Refuge, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence.
Tel: 0808 2000 247
Staffordshire Womans Aid
Specialist service providing domestic and sexual violence services
Tel: 0300 330 5959 (24/7)
24/7 advice and support for victims of domestic abuse
Tel: 0300 303 3778
A peer support organisation for women who have or who are suffering from domestic abuse
0300 302 0484
Provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence
Tel: 0808 802 4040
Telephone helpline for victims of honour based violence or forced marriage
Tel: 0800 599 9247
Website for children and young people dealing with domestic abuse
Men’s Advice Line
Support for male victims of domestic abuse
Tel: 0808 801 0327
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, there may be a number of options you may wish to consider. The options available to you will depend on your own personal circumstances and we will also put your safety, and the safety of those dependent upon you, first.
The Council offers a ‘Sanctuary Scheme’ which aims to prevent homelessness across all types of housing by providing additional security measures to your home. These measures allow survivors of domestic abuse, and other forms of violence and abuse, to feel safe and secure to remain in their home. Specialist domestic abuse workers can discuss with you alternative options that may be available so that you can remain at home.
Depending on your situation, you may no longer feel safe at home. We will work closely with you, and any specialist support that you may be receiving, to provide you with advice on your housing options. We recommend that you seek specialist advice and support from the providers listed above as they can to give you advice and guidance to help you stay safe and navigate different systems and processes.
You may wish to apply for our housing register for a planned move. You can do this by contacting the Housing Options Team and registering with Homes Plus directly who own the majority of the housing stock in the Borough. Their website is here - Homes to rent - Homes Plus. You will be asked questions about your personal circumstances and provided with priority banding in accordance with our respective Allocation Policies.
However, if remaining at home means that it is probable that it will lead to domestic abuse, then you may wish to consider making a homeless application to the Council. A homeless application recognises that it is not longer reasonable for you to remain at home - regardless of any legal right you may have to the property, on the basis that if you remained there is a probability that it would lead to domestic abuse or other acts of violence.
You can make a homeless application by contacting the Housing Options Team on the details below. You may wish to do this with specialist support from a domestic abuse worker who can help to tell us about your situation, so you do not have to. We may have to ask you questions about your housing history, who you lived with, instances of domestic abuse, other agencies that provide you with support, your health and income. You are welcome to have a support worker present with you for the homeless application.
If you need to leave your accommodation urgently, we will need to consider what would be suitable for you. It may be that accommodation in the Borough is not suitable, based on your personal circumstances. A refuge is a safe place to live if you need to escape immediate domestic abuse. In refuge you will be provided with support and help to move on into longer-term accommodation. You can call the National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247 to find a place in refuge. Refuge addresses and phone numbers are confidential, and you must not give them to anyone else. Refuse staff will tell you how to get there and what can you bring. Refuge spaces are mostly child friendly, however older male children may not be accepted. You may also not be accepted for refuge if you are in employment.
If you are in immediate danger and fear for your safety, please dial 999. The police can also help you access available support.
If you have experienced homelessness, or are rough sleeping, as a result of domestic abuse, we may refer you to our Domestic Abuse Resettlement Workers who can provide specialist targeted support for women who are homeless and victims of domestic abuse.
Moving on from Refuge
If you are moving on from refuge in Stafford, or wish to return to Stafford after staying in a refuge elsewhere, you can apply to our Housing Register. We will ask your support worker to complete a move on form to support your application. We will take into account your personal circumstances, including whether it would be safe for you to live in the area.
The Housing Options Team, based at Stafford Borough Council, can provide you with advice on your housing needs and explain what options are available to you.
You can contact us by
Phone: 01785 619000
If you are homeless and the council offices are closed, then you can contact the homelessness out of hours service on 01785 619170. You should only use this service if you have nowhere to stay immediately.
If you are in immediate danger, you should dial 999.