Domestic abuse is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (physical, sexual, mental, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or who have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender and sexuality. This definition has been extended to include controlling and coercive behaviour, to highlight that it's not just physical violence that makes a relationship abusive. 

Government statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their life. Domestic abuse is much more widespread than many people realise and anyone from any background can suffer. Sometimes can be a one-off incident of violence, but more often it's a pattern of persistent abusive behaviour. 

Is domestic abuse a crime?

Domestic violence or abuse is a serious crime. Agencies in the District are working to encourage greater reporting of the crime and to develop services provided to the victims. The local Domestic Abuse Forum aims to reduce repeat victimisation and to improve the safety and well being of the victims and the children involved in domestic abuse. 

Within the District there are specially trained Domestic Violence Officers who can help and support victims of domestic abuse. They can also advise on legal issues, court procedures, assistance with civil applications and what to do in an emergency. The new domestic violence disclosure scheme allows the police to disclose information about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.

Further information on domestic violence is available, including contact numbers for Domestic Violence Officers, via the Hertfordshire Police website

The Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse line 
This is a confidential free phone information line which can refer callers to around 177 mainly Hertfordshire-based  organisations according to their individual needs. The Helpline is open Monday – Friday 9am to 9pm and weekends 9am to 4pm 

Tel: 08 088 088 088

Women's Aid is the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. It supports a network of over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the UK.

Herts Sunflower aims to protect and support those affected by domestic violence or hate crimes. The centre works in partnership with other organisations to deliver a tailor-made service to ensure the safety of the family and to reduce repeat victimisation. There are main centres based in Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Cheshunt and a drop in centre at Hatfield.

Staff at the centre can provide professional advice on civic or criminal justice options, safety planning and risk assessments. Other partners can provide an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor service, housing advice surgeries and counselling services.  These services are open to any individual of any age or gender who is experiencing domestic violence or hate crime. 

The Herts Sunflower also has information on honour based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Galop offers support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people experiencing domestic violence. 

Date of last review: 13 August 2019