Domestic abuse support for Service families - title image

Monday 4th December 2023

Information from Defence People Communication on the domestic abuse support available for Service families:

Defence is encouraging anyone affected by domestic abuse to ask for help and to be aware of the different ways to get support.

Armed forces families play a crucial role in Defence and should feel safe and supported. When it comes to domestic abuse, there are many support services available to them – both within Defence and at a local and national level.

To help more people get the help they need, it’s also important to understand what might be stopping them from seeking support.

There are multiple and very valid reasons as to why domestic abuse victims-survivors can be reluctant to ask for support, particularly in close knit Defence communities. Most victims-survivors live with their abuser, some aren’t aware that they are being abused, and others might fear the repercussions of seeking support. There are also many who don’t know about the support that exists.

Breaking down barriers

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender + people may face more barriers to getting support, including discrimination and fears about disclosing their sexuality. Galop is a national LGBT domestic abuse charity that offers confidential, emotional support and information.

Men might not reach out to support services as they might think it’s for women only, or they may worry that they won’t be taken seriously. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, and everyone in the Defence community will be supported and treated with respect.

Armed Forces domestic abuse support

In a military context, there can be a perception that support services are only for the Service person and not the whole family. As explained below, many support services also help armed forces family members.

Service families can receive initial support and signposting from unit support staff, who understand the dynamics of abuse and have knowledge of local support services.

Specialist welfare support refers to the Army Welfare Service, Naval Service Family and People Support, and the RAF Personal Support and Social Work Service. These services are confidential and independent of the Chain of Command. For a list of services and contact details, visit GOV.UK.

These specialist welfare services provide a variety of support to Service personnel and their families, including making referrals to external specialist services. There is also support for those who recognise their behaviour is abusive and want to change.

Armed forces family members can report domestic abuse to Service Police. The Victim Witness Care Unit then provides support to victims-survivors of domestic abuse during their journey through the Service Justice System. To find out what happens when a report of domestic abuse is made to the Service Police, read the Service Police’s leaflet.

Not sure what support you need?

The support services mentioned can help victims-survivors to find out what kind of support they need and can help with planning next steps.

A list of support services and contact details, inside and outside of Defence, can be found in the JSP 913: Whole Force Policy on Domestic Abuse.

These support services have skilled staff in place who understand the significant challenges that victims-survivors face in reaching out for support and the courage required to do this.

So, if you have any questions about the support options available within Defence or need further information, contact the MOD Safeguarding policy team: [email protected]

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