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Domestic abuse


Domestic abuse is sometimes referred to as domestic violence or intimate partner violence.

If you have any questions or queries about the information on this page, or you would like to give feedback or share you experiences in confidence, please contact our Health & Additional Needs team at healthsupport@aff.org.uk.


01   How is domestic abuse defined?

The Government definition of domestic abuse is…

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

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 a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.”*

*This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Read more information on the Domestic Abuse Bill 2020

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02   What is the MOD policy on domestic abuse?

Historically, the Armed Forces have taken a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on any form of domestic abuse; however, this has now been reconsidered because it was thought this may prevent victims reporting it.

Many victims are initially concerned that reporting domestic abuse may impact on the serving perpetrator’s career and this can often be used by the perpetrator to prevent the victim reporting domestic abuse to the chain of command.

It is rare for a serving perpetrator to be discharged due to committing domestic abuse unless a criminal offence has been committed. The Army is aware of the need to balance disciplining the soldier with supporting the family and achieving positive outcomes. However, the MOD does not tolerate any form of domestic abuse and if you are a victim of it, or know someone who is, it is very important that you report it either to the chain of command or to a civilian organisation.

For more information on MOD policy around domestic abuse please read JSP 913: Whole Force Policy on Domestic Abuse and the Army Briefing Note (ABN) 103/14.

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03   Domestic abuse: guidance and support for the Armed Forces community

There is specific information about domestic abuse for the Armed Forces community on the GOV.UK website – Domestic abuse: guidance and support for the Armed Forces community, which offers information and guidance for those affected by or dealing with cases of domestic abuse in the Armed Forces community.

This site is for male or female victims, perpetrators who are looking to change their behaviour, military or civilian practitioners, chain of command or concerned family and friends.

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04   Need to speak to someone?

If you are in immediate danger or your life is being threatened, you are strongly advised to call 999.

Otherwise, there are a number of civilian organisations that you can contact including…

If you need to contact someone within the chain of command, you’re advised to speak to someone in the Army Welfare Service (AWS). To contact the AWS Intake and Assessment Teams (IAT), call 01904 882053 or 882054 or email RC-AWS-IAT-0Mailbox@mod.gov.uk

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05   Stalking

Stalking is another form of domestic abuse and is a serious crime and should be reported to the Police. AWS can also provide you with support. A useful contact is the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 8020300 and their website, suzylamplugh.org

Paladin is an organisation that can also provide excellent support and information.

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06   Overseas support


If there is an emergency, always call the Royal Military Police BFG CRIMELINE – 0800 184 2222

The British Forces Social Work Services Central Referral Team can help you and the person who is being hurt to stay safe. Contact the Team on 0800 724 3176 to find out what services there are to help you.


In an emergency, call the SBA Police on 112 or the Cyprus Joint Policing Unit on +357 2596 3300 or 94120 3300.

SSAFA are contracted to provide the services and strategies required to deal and support with domestic abuse in BFC and this includes support for victims, perpetrator programmes as well as safe houses.

More information on the support available in Cyprus from SSAFA is on the SSAFA Cyprus Service Hub webpage.

Worldwide support

For information on support for domestic abuse around the world, see gov.uk/government/publications/armed-forces-domestic-abuse-worldwide-support.

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07   Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones Homes exist for women and their children with a military connection, who may find themselves in need of temporary accommodation, whether it be homelessness, marital breakdown, moving house or compassionate reasons.

Both homes offer a safe and secure homely environment and staff are trained to support families in welfare, finance, immigration and emotional issues.

Referrals and enquiries can be through Unit Welfare teams, Army Welfare Service, Social Workers, SSAFA Welfare Department, SSAFA caseworkers. For more information, see SSAFA: Sheltered housing for women and children.

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