17th September 2021

Somerset domestic abuse services increasing

Somerset County Council is increasing its range of specialist domestic abuse services and the number of safe accommodation sites for survivors.

The Council is looking to increase the range of specialist services and provision of safe accommodation to victims in the county over the next 2-3 years as part of its response to the new Domestic Abuse Bill which became law on 29 April 2021.

This will include increasing specific services for children and adults including therapeutic support and counselling recognising the trauma domestic abuse brings.

The new domestic abuse act creates for the first time a legal definition of domestic abuse. This ensures domestic abuse is properly understood, considered unacceptable and actively challenged across statutory agencies and in public attitudes. 

The definition of domestic abuse is in two parts. The first part deals with the relationship between the abuser and the abused. The second part defines what constitutes abusive behaviour.

There are two criteria governing the relationship between the abuser and the abused

  1. Both, the person who is carrying out the behaviour and the person to whom the behaviour is directed towards must be aged 16 or over
  2. both persons must be “personally connected” (including ex-partners, those with (or who’ve had) parental responsibility for the same child and family members)

The Act also recognises a child (defined as a person under 18 years old) who is related to the abuser and the abused and sees, hears, or experiences the effects of the abuse and treats them as victims of domestic abuse.  A child is related to a person (abuser and the abused) if the person is a parent or has parental responsibilities for the child or the child and the person are relatives.

Speaking on the new domestic abuse act and plans for Somerset, Cabinet Member with responsibility for community safety, Cllr Clare Paul said, “Although Somerset County Council has commissioned a range of specialist accommodation for male and female victims of domestic abuse for many years, in response to the new DA Act, we’re now working with partner agencies to enhance this through sourcing more accommodation and ensuring it’s more accessible to a wider range of victims. Additionally, for survivors of domestic abuse living in safe accommodation, we are now going to be commissioning therapeutic support for children, and counselling for adults, to help improve their recovery from living with the trauma of domestic abuse.”

Behaviour is to be regarded as ‘abusive’ if it consists of any of the following:

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Violent or threatening behaviour
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour
  • Economic abuse
  • Psychological, emotional or other abuse.

For further information on the Domestic Abuse Act, visit: https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021/04/29/domesticabuseactfactsheet/

For further information on the services provided by SCC, visit: https://www.somerset.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/domestic-abuse/

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, help and support is available: visit www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk or call 0800 69 49 999 to know more.

In an emergency, call the police 999. If you can’t speak, listen to the question, and then tap or cough to answer. Press 55 to signal an emergency.