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Domestic Abuse

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What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is the exercise of control by one person over another within an intimate or close family relationship; the abuse can be sexual, physical, financial, emotional or psychological. The abuse can happen in the home or elsewhere. (Welsh Women’s Aid)


It is usually a pattern of behaviour, and happens regardless of sex, age, carer responsibility, class, disability, gender identity, immigration status, ethnicity, geography or religion.

The UK government definition of domestic violence and abuse defines Domestic abuse as: “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”.

There are a number of types of domestic abuse, some of which are covered with their own sections on the website.

Physical abuse is a range of actions done by a perpetrator to a victim using force / violence or objects of hurt them. Physical abuse can include slapping, punching, kicking, burning, shaking, strangling, throwing items and the use of knives or other weapons.

Spiritual abuse is commonly understood as a part of emotional and psychological abuse that uses religion and faith systems to control and subjugate a victim.

Financial abuse is a range of actions carried out against a victim and can include:

  • Keeping the victim short of money
  • Taking money from the victim
  • Preventing the victim from getting or keeping a job
  • Forcing the victim to work one or more jobs, but taking all the money from them.
  • Destroying possessions
  • Refusing the victim access to a bank account
  • Running up debts in the victims name.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 explicitly recognises children who are related to the victim or perpetrator as victims of domestic abuse in their own right if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse.

Office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner: Role is to raise public awareness of domestic abuse. Some of the Commissioner’s roles do not cover Wales as they are in devolved areas. The Welsh Government, have confirmed, they will work together with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner where appropriate to tackle domestic abuse and work to support survivors.

There are two very specific types of domestic abuse which are also covered under this heading.

Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (APVA): Also known as parent abuse, child to parent abuse or battered parent syndrome. As well as living in fear of assault, parents who are abused by their children may experience feelings of shame and blame, and are often reluctant to report the problem.

APVA is likely to involve a pattern of behaviour, which can include physical violence and other types of abusive behaviour towards a parent (or guardian) including damage to property, emotional abuse and financial abuse. Some families experiencing APVA have a history of domestic violence and abuse, in other cases the violence can be linked to other behavioural problems, substance misuse, mental health problems or learning difficulties.

It is important to remember that this form of abuse, though commonly referred to as Adolescent to Parent Violent Abuse, can also include parents, those with parental responsibility, siblings or extended family.

Elder Abuse: Specific abuse of people over the age of 65. The abuse can be as already identified but the support and advice may be different. They may also like the victims of APVA not want to report it. According to Hourglass 1 in 6 older people are victims of abuse. Abuse can be from family, friends and neighbours. It can have been taking place for a long time or be a recent change due to behavioural problems (as with APVA) but also try to take advantage of the physical and emotional impact of growing older and possibly being less mobile (see Modern Slavery and Exploitation regarding Cuckooing). Welsh Government Domestic abuse: safeguarding older people is a guide to help professionals support older people who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.

  • Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015: along with duties around strategies the Act put in place measures to reduce gender based violence in Wales and aims to raise awareness of domestic abuse and set out preventative measures so that professionals can recognise the signs of abuse and violence.
  • Welsh Government provided guidance for providers of accommodation for survivors of VAWDASV during COVID-19.
  • Domestic Abuse Act 2021: Abusers will not be allowed, in some circumstances, to directly cross-examine victims in family and civil courts, as well as, Special Measures such as, provision of screens and being able to give evidence via video link to prevent intimidation and alleviate some of the stress associated with the process. Clarifies the circumstances in which a court may make a ‘barring order’ under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989, to prevent abusive ex-partners from repeatedly taking the victime back to court, which may be a continuation of abuse. Introduces a new offence of non-fatal strangulation, punishable by up to five years in prison. The defence of consent to serious harm for sexual gratification is removed. Threat to disclose private sexual photographs and films with the intent to cause distress is added to the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Prevents GPs and other health professionals from charging a victim of domestic abuse for a letter to support an application for legal aid.
  • Domestic violence disclosure scheme: guidance (2012) ‘Clare’s Law’: Clare’s Law enables people to ask police to carry out checks for a record of abusive offences on their partner or the partner of a member of their family or a friend who they believe may be at risk. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 places the domestic violence disclosure scheme ‘Clare’s Law’ on a statutory setting.
  • Serious Crime Act 2015: Part 5 of the Act defines and expands the scope of domestic abuse offences as well as updating the law around FGM.
  • Family Law Act 1996 (as amended by Part 1 of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004). Introduced two types of order. Occupation Orders which allows a court to temporarily exclude an abuser from the home. Non-molestation orders is a court order which prohibits an abuser from being violent, harassing or threatening behaviour towards another person.
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997 provides civil and criminal remedies to domestic abuse these include non-harassment and restraining orders.
  • Housing (Wales) Act 2014 Section 55 outlines when a person is homeless or threatened with homelessness. Section 57 specifically provides that it is not reasonable for a person to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to the person, or a member of the person’s household , being subject to abuse. For the purposes of section 57, “abuse” means physical violence, threatening or intimidating behaviour and any other form of abuse which, directly or indirectly, may give rise to the risk of harm. “Domestic abuse” occurs where the victim is associated with the abuser (section 58). Section 68 provides that interim accommodation must be provided by local authorities if they believe that an applicant may be homeless, eligible for assistance and have a priority need – this includes refuges.

Non-molestation orders and occupation orders issued under the Family Law Act 1996 can only be applied for by the victim and made by the court.

Welsh Women’s Aid: 



Welsh Government: National Training Framework on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Welsh Government: A series of videos outlining the role of the public service leadership in relation to VADASV

IRIS (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) is training specifically for primary care workers. If unsure contact Public Health Wales or the Local Health Board to access.

Future Learn: Domestic Violence course 

Social Care Wales: Recognising and responding to domestic violence and abuse quick guide for social workers.

BBC News: The abuse started the day I met him

NSPCC Podcast: helping children recover from domestic abuse

NHS Domestic violence. 2 women describe their experience of domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid Break the Silence: Responding to domestic abuse in your community. Providing a brief overview of what domestic abuse is, the impact it can have on communities and the impact that communities can have in challenging it.

White Ribbon UK If Love Hurts film

The Community Safety Podcast Domestic Abuse with Sharon Bryan

Useful links

Live Fear Free helpline 

Visit the site

Respect Men’s Advice Line which is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm – Freephone 0808 8010327

Visit the website

Dyn Wales Helpline (run by Safer Wales) number 0808 801 0321

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, out of hours access is through the Live Fear Free helpline.

Visit the website

Stonewall Cymru provides advice and support to LGBT+

Visit the website

BAWSO provides support to Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority women and children.

Visit the website

Hourglass – dedicated support for older people.

Visit the website

Childline for children and young people.

Visit the website

Bright Sky app is a free mobile app that provides support and information.

Visit the website

Public Health Wales provides some practical advice and links to additional resources.

Visit the website

Civil Legal Advice for those who are eligible.

Visit the website

Citizens Advice Bureau can provide information and advice.

Visit the website

Social Care Wales Domestic violence and abuse – guidance for professionals

Visit the website

Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

The Welsh Government website states that “Domestic Abuse is not acceptable; anyone experiencing domestic violence and abuse is not to blame and is not alone.” Help is available through the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800, text 07860077333 or email all available 24hours a day 7 days a week.

Safe houses and refuge: Local domestic abuse services in Wales can support victims (and any children) with a range of support to meet the needs around housing, legal issues, immigration, support through the justice system, finance (including debt), health and wellbeing, accessing education and employment and accessing counselling support.

Refuge is a safe house where people can stay free from abuse either in a crisis or to help them move on and recover from abuse. Access to refuge is available via the Live Fear Free helpline or your local group. An assessment is carried out by the refuge provider.

Community based support (community or floating support): Specialist support and advocacy for survivors living within the community to help people move-on and stay safe, to achieve independence and be free of abuse.

Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA): IDVA’s are specialist professionals who work with victims of domestic abuse. They can help a victim with everything they need to become safe and rebuild their life and represent their voice at a Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), as well as helping them to navigate the criminal justice system working with the different statutory agencies.

DASH risk assessment: DASH stands for domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’-based violence. When someone is experiencing domestic abuse, it is essential that an accurate and fast assessment of the danger they are in is carried out, so they can get the right help as quickly as possible. It is normally a simple series of questions making it easy to work out the risk someone is facing, and what they might need to become safe and well. A high score means the victim is at high risk of murder and/or serious harm and needs urgent help. These victims should get help from an IDVA, and all the relevant local agencies should come together at a MARAC meeting to make a plan to make them safe.

A MARAC is a meeting where information is shared on the highest risk domestic abuse cases between representatives of local police, health, child protection, housing practitioners, Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs), probation and other specialists from the statutory and voluntary sectors. The MARAC process should have close links with Safeguarding.

NSPCC have trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support for any concerns about a child including APVA. Email or call on 0808 800 5000.

Hourglass Cymru provide a helpline and specialist support for people who are 65 and over who are experiencing abuse. Phone 0808 808 8141 or text 07860052906.

The police can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice. This will protect the victim from abuse for 48 hours. If the police think the victim is still in danger they can apply to the magistrates’ court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order. The Order provides additional protection if the victim lives with the perpetrator, ban them from returning home and contacting the victim and can last for up to 28 days. If the perpetrator does not keep to the Order they can be arrested and brought before the court.