Domestic Abuse is termed as "any incident or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality (Definition by the Home Office 2005)
If you know of any person who is in immediate danger, you should always dial 999, and ask for the police.
If you are experiencing Domestic Abuse, and want to leave your home, you can contact the Swale Borough Council Housing Options Team on 01795 417622 (Out of Hours, call 01795 428547), or come in to the Housing Advice Desk in Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne. Opening times are:
We provide a confidential service and ensure that if you are suffering from Domestic Abuse, that you get the advice and support you need to enable you to make informed decisions.
For more information on what we can do for you please see our Domestic Abuse Leaflet (PDF)
It is much more common than many of us realise; 1 in 4 women experience Domestic Abuse at some time
It happens in all walks of life, to women and men of all ages and from all ethnic backgrounds
Domestic abuse accounts for 16% of all violent crime
On average a person will be assaulted 35 times before they call the police
It claims the lives of 2 women a week, and 30 men a year
54% of rapes are committed by a partner or ex-partner
70% of people who abuse their partner also abuse their children!
In 90% of Domestic Abuse incidents, children are either in the same or next room
Victims of Domestic Abuse are 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 9 times more likely to abuse drugs
Victims of Domestic Abuse are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed as depressed or psychotic
17% of those experiencing Domestic Abuse attempt suicide
30% of Domestic Abuse incidents start or intensify during pregnancy
There is no excuse for Domestic Abuse
In partnership with the Swale Domestic Violence Forum, Swale Borough Council offers a One Stop Shop Service, leaflet, which is held every Tuesday 9.30am - 11am at Phoenix House, Central Avenue, Sittingbourne. Anyone who is suffering from Domestic Abuse can speak to representatives from a range of services, face to face, to get the right advice and support, such as legal advice, housing advice, safety advice, and family advice. In addition there are now drop-in sessions in Faversham, Sheerness and Murston.
Our Domestic Abuse Leaflet (PDF) provides you with a list of Useful Contacts and Agencies who can provide further support and advice.
While you are making your escape plan it is a good idea to have a safety plan in case you need to leave before you are ready. Some of the most important things to remember are:
Keep Benefit letters, bankcards, birth certificates and marriage certificates in a safe place. Try and get copies and leave one set with a solicitor or good friend.
Keep spare clothes in a bag, at a friends home or in a locker at work, etc.
Keep some money in a safe place, open a new account. You should be able to arrange to collect all your correspondence from your local branch. To open an account you will need two forms of ID. This can be a driving licence, passport, etc. You will also need something with your address on it, a recent bill, child benefit book, etc.
Keep emergency numbers in a safe place. It may not be possible to have these pre-programmed in a mobile phone.
If you have a car, it might be worthwhile leaving a spare set of keys with a friend.
Make sure you have carefully planned when and how you want to leave, to help you, you can download our Safety Plan Checklist.(Word Doc. format).
If you have left your partner, or want to know who can help should you choose to leave, there are many different agencies that provide support and information to help you re-build your life, and gradually come to terms with what you have suffered.
The Freedom Programme is open to any woman who wishes to understand domestic abuse. It is a twelve week programme, held once a week with each session lasting 90 minutes. The programme aims to help women understand the beliefs held by abusive men, illustrate the effects of domestic abuse on children, to help women gain self-esteem and confidence, and to increase women's ability to recognise what steps they need to take to protect themselves and their children.
Keepsafe is an agency that can carry out a security check on your home, if you have been able to stay there, and can identify areas which need improving. Additional measure such as extra bolts, locks, spy holes and door chains can be installed to improve the overall safety of your home. If you would like more information, please call the Housing Options Team on 01795 417511.
If you need help getting an injunction against your ex-partner, you can contact the National Centre for Domestic Violence. NCDV is an organisation which offers a free and confidential legal service available to everyone, and can obtain an injunction for you within 24 hours of contact. Their telephone number is 0844 8044 999.
You may also want to think about other ways in which you can protect yourself, if you choose to leave.
It is your decision whether or not you tell people why you have left your partner. However, if you feel as though you may still be at risk, it might increase your safety to tell family and friends, your children's school, your employer or college what has happened. They can then ensure that they do not give out any personal details or information to your ex-partner, and will be better prepared to help you in an emergency.
If you have left the property, but are still living in the same area, you can help to increase your safety by;
If you have left the area, you can protect yourself by taking increased care with anything that might reveal your location, such as;
Choosing to stay in your home is a decision only you can make. It may help to know what you can do to ensure you feel safer, and are protected, if you do choose to remain.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence can help you to get an injunction (an occupation, or protection order) against your ex-partner. Some injunctions have powers of arrest attached - if this is the case, make sure your local police station has a copy of the order, and to be aware that rapid response is needed in an emergency.
Keepsafe (as above) is an organisation which can help you in providing extra security in your home. You should also consider the following:
If your ex-partner continues to harass or threaten you, keep a detailed record of all incidents, when they took place and at what time. You should also make a note of what was said or done, and pictures of damage to property, or any injuries to yourself and others. If you have to visit your doctor or the hospital following an incident, ask them to document it as further evidence.