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Domestic abuse


Domestic abuse (DA) is sometimes referred to as domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence (IPV).

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   Project LIBERTAS pilot

Project LIBERTAS is an Army Welfare Service domestic abuse response team formed to respond to complex domestic abuse cases, and evaluate the feasibility of a permanent specialist team. It has the following objectives:

  • promote survivor and child safety by applying a domestic abuse informed approach to all casework
  • stop incidents of domestic abuse by calling to account perpetrator behaviours and working with partner agencies to support those individuals to change
  • support the chain of command in decision making and management of perpetrators and their responsibility to the safety and wellbeing of survivors and their families.

All referrals should be directed to RC-AWS-IAT-0Mailbox@mod.gov.uk

For all other enquiries relating to domestic abuse, email rc-aws-libertas-0mailbox@mod.gov.uk

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02   ‘No Defence for Abuse’

In 2017, AFF was invited to take part in the MOD’s Domestic Abuse (DA) workshop, which has helped to inform and develop the No Defence For Abuse, Defence DA strategy for 2018 -2023.

This strategy outlines Defence’s responsibility around the issues and barriers associated with DA.

The strategy includes all Defence people, Regular and Reserve personnel, Service families and Defence civilians, and aims to achieve a reduction in the prevalence and impact of DA, and to support those affected by DA by protecting their safety and wellbeing.

This will be achieved through prevention, intervention and partnering with internal and external agencies and organisations.

The military context

The strategy explains what DA is, and explains the military context. It also discusses what Defence’s statutory obligation is, and what their commitments are, including:

  • Removing stigma around DA
  • Providing professional support for victims and survivors of DA
  • Chain of command dealing with DA sensitively and providing timely and appropriate support
  • Raising awareness of DA to both military and civilian managers
  • Working with external civilian organisations to raise awareness of the unique aspects of Service life
  • Working across central, local government and with the Devolved Administrations to develop joint working policies.

Find out more

For more information, see gov.uk/government/publications/no-defence-for-abuse-a-strategy-to-tackle-domestic-abuse-within-the-defence-community.

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03   What is the MOD policy on DA?

Historically, the Armed Forces have taken a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on any form of DA; 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 DA to the chain of command.

It is rare for a serving perpetrator to be discharged due to committing DA 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 DA please read JSP 913 and the Army Briefing Note, Serial No: 102/20.

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04   How is DA defined?

The Government definition of DA 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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05   Domestic abuse: guidance and support for the Armed Forces community

There is specific information about DA 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 DA 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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06   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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07   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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08   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 DA 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 DA around the world, see gov.uk/government/publications/armed-forces-domestic-abuse-worldwide-support.

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09   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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