If you are experiencing domestic abuse and are in immediate danger please call 999 immediately. If you are afraid of being overheard when you dial 999 there is a system in place – 'silent solution'. If you can respond to questions by coughing or tapping the handset you can do this, alternatively, when prompted press 55 to activate the 'silent solution' and the operator can transfer the call to your local police force as an emergency.
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
A Domestic Abuse Act was given Royal Ascent on 29 April 2021 and introduced new duties for local authorities. You can find out more on the UK Government website - Domestic Abuse Act 2021: overarching factsheet - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
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 One Stop Shop is open on Tuesdays 9.30am-12.30pm at The Willow Centre, 24 Brookfield Road, Ashford, TN23 4EY, please call Lauren on 07765 897211. If it safe to do so you can also leave a message or text. You will be triaged and referred on to the service who can best support you, so we will need a safe number for agencies to call you back on. Calls are confidential, however we may need to take some details to refer you on should you consent.
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
DAVE, The Domestic Abuse Victim Empowerment Service
DAVE the new confidential Domestic Abuse Victim Empowerment Service is coordinated by the charity Dads Unlimited.
Male victims of domestic abuse should phone the DAVE helpline on 01233 680160 or register for confidential support by visiting www.savedave.org.uk
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.
Adult domestic abuse support groups
- Kent Social Services – adults can call 03000 416161. There is also an out of hours number, 03000 419191 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Victim Support Kent is open 9am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. Call 0808 168 9276 and leave your details, or talk on live chat online from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.
- Clarion Housing Association – service provider for North and South Kent (including the borough of Ashford). Call 07773 179082 or email email@example.com.
- National Domestic Violence Helpline (in partnership with Women's Aid and Refuge) – freephone 24-hour service, call 0808 2000 247 or call the men's advice line on 0808 801 0327.
- Rising Sun Domestic Violence and Abuse Service – call their confidential helpline: 01227 452852. This line is available 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. People from all walks of life are affected by domestic abuse. Rising Sun Kent are offering free training to local businesses and voluntary organisations to help recognise the signs of domestic abuse and to support colleagues or friends who are affected.
- Domestic Abuse Support Services in Kent and Medway.
- Karma Nirvana – request a call back on their website. You can also call 0800 599 9247 from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Refuge website.
- The Samaritans – call 116 123 (free at any time) or you can email email@example.com.
- Department for Work and Pensions – call 0845 604 3719 or 0845 608 8551.
- National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) – call 0800 970 2070.
- Protection Against Stalking – call 0808 923 7000.
- Kent Fire & Rescue Service – call 0800 923 7000 (they can offer a free home safety check and can seal your letterbox).
- Broken Rainbow website.
- Safe Lives website.
- Mankind Initiative – confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse. Call 01823 334244 Monday-Friday 10am-4pm.
- Men's Advice Line – confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. Call 0808 8010327. Lines open 9am-8pm Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays and 9am-5pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse helpline – emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse. Call 0800 999 5428. Lines are open 10am-5pm Monday-Friday with extended opening hours until 8pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- National LGBT and Domestic Abuse – sexual violence. Call 020 7704 2040. Lines are open 10am-5pm Monday to Friday with extended opening hours until 8pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Supportline – Confidential telephone helpline offering emotional support to any individual (children, young adults and adults) on any issue. Call 01708 765200.
- Respect – Confidential helpline offering advice, information and support to help people stop being violent and abusive to their partner. Call 0808 802 4040. Lines are open 9am-5pm Monday-Friday.
Children and young people personal safety groups
- Kent Social Services – Children can call 03000 411111. There is also an out of hours number, 03000 419191 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Childline Advice and Support for Young People – call 0800 1111.
- NSPCC Female Genital Mutilation Helpline – call 0800 028 3550.
- Kooth website – Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people.