What is domestic violence and abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse is any incident of controlling, coercive, 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. Family members are defined as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in laws or stepfamily.
The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
- 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 pattern of acts of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim. Coercive and controlling behaviour is now a criminal offence, which can be reported to Kent Police through 101
Honour based violence
The definition includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so called 'honour based violence', female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.
Stalking is a pattern of persistent and unwanted behaviour which is obsessive and intrusive. It can make you feel pestered and harassed and can cause distress and fear that violence may occur. It can include (but is not limited to) making unwanted communication, following or spying on you, damaging property, sending unwanted gifts, threats, online and spyware stalking. Stalking is a criminal offence and you can report this crime to the police.
Whatever form it takes, domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident, and should instead be seen as a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victim. Typically the abuse involves a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour, which tends to get worse over time. The abuse can begin at any time, in the first year, or after many years of life together. It may begin, continue, or escalate after a couple have separated and may take place not only in the home but also in a public place.
Domestic abuse occurs across society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth, and geography. The figures show, however, that it consists mainly of violence by men against women. However Men can also be affected by DA, Children are also affected, both directly and indirectly.
Domestic violence and abuse is a crime and will not be tolerated. If you are experiencing abuse it is important to tell someone before it gets worse. You can access support and advice at a domestic abuse one stop shop, these are accessible across the county.
Help and support
Ashford One Stop Shop
The Ashford One Stop Shop runs every Tuesday 9.30am-12.30pm at The Willows Children’s Centre, Halstow Way, Brookfield Road, Ashford, TN23 4EY.
Here you can access free legal advice, support with benefits and housing, specialist advice from domestic abuse practitioners and police. It is a confidential drop in, which anyone who is or has experienced domestic abuse can access. You don’t need an appointment.
Other drop in advice sessions and One Stop Shops are also available in Ashford and in other areas of Kent. View a list of domestic abuse drop-in centres.
Domestic Abuse Kent & Medway Support Services
Domestic Abuse Services provides a list of services available across the county and nationally. It also provides information for professionals who are working with those experiencing domestic abuse
If you are concerned about your partners behaviour or feel there may be a history of domestic abuse you can request a disclosure through Kent Police.
National Domestic Violence Helpline
There is a 24 hour national helpline available on 0808 2000 247 or visit the National Domestic Violence Helpline website.
The Rising Sun is Ashford’s domestic abuse charity. They can provide you with information and support available in the Ashford and Canterbury area.
Forced marriage and honour based abuse
Karma Nirvana is a UK registered charity that supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour based abuse.
For advice and support if you are affected by stalking, visit the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
If you are at risk of homelessness through domestic abuse please see information on council housing options.