Safeguarding Adults and Children
Domestic abuse-physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological, rape and sexual assault, stalking, prostitution and sexual exploitation, trafficking from sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and honour-based violence are all forms of gender-based violence and can intersect and overlap. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 introduced a wider definition of domestic abuse that now recognises children as victims in their own right if living in a household/ are exposed to abuse between family members.
Women, girls and men can be victims of gender based violence however the majority of gender based violence affected are women and girls. It manifests itself in a unequal power relationship between men and women and a violation of women’s human rights. Gender based violence against women shall mean violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or affects women disproportionally (Art 3 d, Council of European Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence)
A domestic violence disclosure scheme was implemented in 2014 (Clare’s Law) across England and Wales and under this scheme an individual can check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. This is the right to ask. If the records show that an individual has a violent history the police will consider disclosing this information if an individual may be at risk from a partner.
Coercive and Controlling Behaviour Offence
This came into force in December 2015. It carries a minimum of 5 years imprisonment, a fine or both. Victims who experience coercive and controlling behaviour that stops short of serious physical violence but amounts to extreme psychological and emotional abuse, can bring their perpetrators to justice.
For every three victims of domestic abuse two will be female and one will be male. (Mary Brooks) March 2016 Mankind initiative. Equivalent of 2.2 million male victims and 4.4 million female victims)
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime, 2 women will be killed a week by a current and former partner, 3 abused women a week commit suicide and a women will be assaulted 35 times before she seeks help. 30% of domestic violence either starts or intensify in pregnancy.
We work in partnership with the Local Authority and to provide training and advice on Domestic Abuse to General Practices in Somerset. Health professionals have a vital role to play in the support offered to victims of domestic violence by ensuring those that it commissions have a robust gender based violence policy, ensure staff receive expert training to understand the complex dynamics and risks and warning signs of domestic/gender based violence and take a proactive non judgmental approach to supporting victims ensuring staff are aware of specialist service in local areas have referral protocols and essential good communication with other agencies. NHS Somerset supports the local VAWG action plan and MARAC multi agency Risk Assessment Conference to support high risk victims of domestic abuse of those living in Somerset.
We support the Domestic Homicide Reviews conducted by Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) where the death of a person aged 16 years or over has or appears to have resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a relative, household member or someone he or she has been in an intimate relationship with. More information on Domestic Homicide Reviews undertaken in Somerset can be found here.