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Domestic Abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is defined 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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Coercive and controlling behaviour is psychological and emotional abuse and is also a criminal offence.

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.

Click on the image below to find out more about controlling and coercive behaviour. 

Domestic abuse also includes so called ‘honour’ based abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone of any age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or class.

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Such behaviours might include, but are not limited to:

  • isolating a person from their friends and family;
  • depriving them of their basic needs;
  • monitoring their time;
  • monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware;
  • taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep;
  • depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services;
  • repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless;
  • enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim;
  • forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities;
  • financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance;
  • threats to hurt or kill;
  • threats to a child;
  • threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to ‘out’ someone).
  • assault;
  • criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods);
  • rape;
  • preventing a person from having access to transport or from working.

Click here to find out more about controlling and coercive behaviour and the #CutYourStrings campaign. 

Dorset Police’s officers are highly trained to deal with domestic abuse. They will listen, treat you with respect, sensitivity and:

  • Conduct a full risk assessment with you.
  • Investigate all incidents which occur and take positive action against the abuser - where there is sufficient evidence.
  • Inform Social Services and Health of any domestic abuse incidents involving children so they can provide further help and support.
  • Keep you informed on developments of any legal proceedings. If you are required to go to court, the police and other specially trained workers will provide support, and arrange support whilst attending court with you where necessary.
  • Put you in contact with victim services, advocacy support and other partner organisations.

Remember you are not to blame for what is happening and help is available.

Where we have the power of arrest we will normally arrest the perpetrator and will prosecute offenders where appropriate. We will also use any other means possible to prevent further abuse and violence.

We will also work to make sure that you and any other witnesses to the offences feel confident enough to report offences and give evidence in court.

All victims and witnesses involved in cases going through the court process are referred to the Victim and Witness Support Team; they provide a single point of contact until the court case is finished and will contact you, keep you informed about your case and arrange on-going support.

Your Witness Care Officer can work with you to overcome any issues or problems you may have about coming to court, ranging from childcare issues to fears of intimidation

Dorset Police and the Crown Prosecution Service work together with Victim Support, Witness Services and partner agencies to provide a service in which victims and witnesses of crime can feel confident.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner.

Members of the public can make an application for a disclosure, known as the ‘right to ask’.

Follow this link for more information. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse or violence, please report it online here or if you wish to speak with someone call 101. 

Always dial 999 in an emergency. 

Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

More information can be found at the Dorset For You website.

Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7008 0151, www.gov.uk/guidance/forced-marriage


Domestic Abuse delivery plan

Dorset Police is committed to ensuring incidents of domestic abuse are dealt with appropriately, robustly and in a way which puts the safeguarding of victims and their families at the heart of our response.

We have outlined our strategic Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan here

This provides the foundation of the work Dorset Police will undertake to direct and monitor the service we provide to those in our communities suffering from and affected by Domestic Abuse.