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Domestic abuse

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.

Abuse can take many forms and is still abuse whether it is a single incident or repeated incidents. Most domestic abuse occurs in intimate relationships, but abuse can happen in other settings too, including between family members.

Domestic Abuse is defined in the Domestic Abuse Act 2020 ('the Act') as the behaviour(s) of a person towards another person if they are personally connected to each other, and the behaviour is abusive.

Behaviour is '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

It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

'Personally connected' means a personal relationship between the victim and perpetrator. This is how domestic abuse is generally understood amongst the public and agencies.

The Act defines people who are ‘personally connected’ as: intimate partners, ex-partners, family members or individuals who share parental responsibility for a child. There is no requirement for the victim and perpetrator to live in the same household.

If you feel you are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you, including the Police, online support, helplines, refuges and other services.

Preventing and responding to domestic abuse

Preventing and responding to domestic and sexual abuse can impact positively on many aspects of our Island life through:

  • Improving health and wellbeing
  • Reducing crime and making people safer
  • Protecting the vulnerable
  • Strengthening communities
  • Improving employment and the economy
  • Improving provision of housing and reducing homelessness
  • Reducing social inequalities
  • Reducing harms from alcohol and drug misuse
  • Improving the experience of childhood, and reducing the number of children in care or living in poverty and
  • Reducing demand on and costs of statutory services including health and social care

The Department of Home Affairs has committed to establish and develop a strong governance framework for Domestic Abuse formed of legislation, statutory guidance and an overarching strategy. This will ensure that Domestic Abuse services are of a high quality. Services will be underpinned by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) quality standards. This is to ensure that services are shaped around the identified needs of victims and perpetrators at all levels of risk. By providing a framework for the commissioning and delivery of statutory and specialist domestic abuse services, the Department of Home Affairs will ensure that these are focused around the needs of the victim, and the perpetrator, to provide the best outcomes possible.

Recognising domestic abuse

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship.

Emotional abuse

Does your partner, former partner or relative ever:

  • Belittle you, or put you down?
  • Blame you for the abuse or arguments?
  • Deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
  • Isolate you from your family and friends?
  • Stop you going to college or work?
  • Make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • Accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
  • Tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
  • Control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?

Threats and intimidation

Does your partner, former partner or relative, ever:

  • Threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • Destroy things that belong to you?
  • Stand over you, invade your personal space?
  • Threaten to kill themselves or the children?
  • Read your emails, texts or letters?
  • Harass or follow you?
  • Make you change your behaviour for fear of what they might do?

Physical abuse

Does your partner, former partner or relative ever:

  • Slap, hit or punch you?
  • Push or shove you?
  • Bite or kick you?
  • Burn you?
  • Choke you or hold you down?
  • Throw things?

Sexual abuse

Does your partner, former partner or relative ever:

  • Touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
  • Make unwanted sexual demands?
  • Hurt you during sex?
  • Pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
  • Pressure you to have sex?

If your partner, or former partner, has sex with you when you don't want to, this is rape.

‘Honour’-based abuse

If you are suffering abuse from your family or community because they say that you have compromised their 'honour', or if they are trying to force you into marriage, you can get help. Karma Nirvana runs the UK honour-based abuse helpline.

Telephone: 0800 5999 247

Email: support@karmanirvana.org.uk

The above list is not exhaustive. See below on how to get advice, help and support.

Supporting someone if they’re being abused

If you’re worried a friend is being abused, let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong. Neighbours and community members can be a life-line for those living with domestic abuse. They might not be ready to talk, but try to find quiet times when they can talk if they choose to.

If someone confides in you that they’re suffering domestic abuse:

  • Listen, and take care not to blame them

  • Acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse

  • Give them time to talk, but don’t push them to talk if they don’t want to

  • Acknowledge they’re in a frightening and difficult situation

  • Tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said

  • Support them as a friend – encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions

  • Don’t tell them to leave the relationship. They may not be ready and that's their decision. It can also be extremely dangerous for them to leave the relationship. If they do decide to leave the relationship, they should not do so without a safety plan. Victim Support, the Isle of Man Constabulary and resources at Space4Action can all help with making a safety plan

  • Ask if they have suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP

  • Help them report the assault to the police if they choose to

  • Be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse

If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.

 

Getting advice if you are experiencing domestic abuse

 

  • FaceTime or call someone you trust and talk to them about what you are experiencing and what your concerns are. Have a code word to let the trusted person know it is not safe to talk or to call the police.

  • Set up check-in calls with someone you trust at certain times in the week.

  • As much as possible, stick to usual routines. Maintaining basic self-care like eating, showering, sleeping and exercising to help your mental health.

  • Take breaks when you can. Walk outside, read a magazine or get the kids involved in an online exercise class.

  • Do you have a personalised safety plan? Think about what needs updating or changing.

  • Can Victim Support IOM or the domestic abuse officer at the Police help you do this? If you can't see or speak to them are there other professionals you trust and can talk to?

  • Do you have a supportive employer? Can you talk to them about what is happening?

  • Are you noticing and safely recording any patterns of abuse? The Keep App enables people to keep a diary of incidents in a private and secure environment on the cloud. As this is a UK based app, some of the location functions might not work in the Isle of Man but you can still track and record incidents.

  • Visit Space4Action for information and support during COVID-19.

  • Download phone apps such as The Brightsky app, which includes helpful tools such as questionnaires to assess the safety of a relationship, and the Hollie Gazzard app, which turns your smartphone into a personal safety device. Both of these apps are UK based so the support services directory will not be relevant in the Isle of Man.

  • Does the person harming you use drugs and/or alcohol? How could their use change and what could this mean?

  • What are your main concerns and worries? These are the things you need to share with Victim Support IOM or the domestic abuse officer at the police.

  • Do you know what your options are if you want to leave or what your options are if you want to stay, but want the person harming you to leave? Victim Support IOM, Women's Aid IOM and the domestic abuse officer at the police can help you think this through.

If you need to, ring the police on 999 for help.

Safety planning suggestions

  • Have you talked to Victim Support IOM or the domestic abuse officer at the police about the layout of your house so you can think about any places of safety?

  • If there are times you know you can talk, share this with Victim Support IOM or the domestic abuse officer at the police and agree how you will reach each other safely.

  • Do you need a separate mobile which you can use just to call for help? The service you are in touch with may be able to supply this.

  • If you had to leave in an emergency do you know where you would go? 
    • Have a bag packed ready if you can. Leave this at a trusted friend/family/neighbour's home. This should contain some money, medical essentials, and important documents including passports /driving licence. Maybe the service you are in touch with could keep copies of these documents?

  • Consider whether there is someone else you could move in with. For instance, a vulnerable family member who will need your support.
    Consider teaching the code to children who are old enough to understand what you are asking of them and why.

  • If you do access any information from domestic abuse help websites, you may need to delete your browser history or use 'private browsing' as a way to hide your searches. See Online Safe Spaces.

Reporting domestic abuse

If you suspect abuse

Report the matter to the Adult Protection Team at +44 1624 685969.

If you have an emergency after office hours and need to contact a social worker urgently:

  • In case of an adult, ring Noble's Hospital and ask for the on call social worker for adults at +44 1624 650000

  • In the case of a child, ring Douglas Police Station at +44 1624 631212

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the Police

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999, listen to the questions from the operator and respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can.

The Emergency Services Joint Control Room will pick up and record your call and help will be provided. Police will get to you, even if you can't keep the line open. Police are able to respond to 'dropped' 999 calls.

People who can help

Isle of Man Constabulary

The Police will respond to emergency calls and reports of domestic abuse, at any time of the day or night.

Visit the Isle of Man Constabulary website

Boots the Chemist

As of 14 Jan 2021, Boots in Strand Street are taking part in the 'Ask for Ani' code word scheme to help victims discretely report domestic abuse. Visit gov.uk for more information.

This scheme is also run in some independent chemists.

Manx Telecom shop

Manx Telecom, on Strand Street in Douglas, has joined forces with police to provide assistance for people who need help in offering the first high street 'safe space' for domestic abuse victims.

Safe spaces are areas, within the local community, where information and support can be discreetly requested; police can also be called.

Victim Support

Open 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

Telephone: +44 1624 679950

Email: enquiries@victimsupport.im

Visit Victim Support's website.

Women’s Refuge

Women's Refuge is open and available to victims of domestic abuse, should they require somewhere to stay.

Telephone: +44 1624 677900

The Women's Refuge can also be accessed via the Police or Victim Support.

Men's Advice Line

The Men's Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. It can be contacted on 0808 8010 327 and emailed on info@mensadviceline.org.uk. They also offer a Webchat service at specific times on specific days. The opening hours are limited to weekdays however, and this should be borne in mind.

If you are worried about your behaviour

If you’re making a loved one feel scared or controlled, there are services to help you, in confidence and without judgement.

Professional help can be really valuable in helping you identify what’s behind the behaviour and how you can make a change for the better.

The Respect Phoneline is a confidential helpline, email and web chat service for people behaving abusively in their relationships. The service supports men and women who are using abuse in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, from anywhere in the UK.

Freephone: 0808 802 4040

Email: info@respectphoneline.org.uk

Other useful links

Safeguarding and vulnerable women - during pregnancy

Visit our Safegurading page.

Housing matters

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm

Telephone: 0808 1624 100 or +44 1624 675507

Email: info@housingmatters.im

Housing matters website.

Motiv8 Addiction Services

Telephone: +44 1624 627656

Mobile: +44 7624 426400

Email: Motiv8@iom.com

Motiv8 Addiction Services website.

Space4Action

Domestic abuse training that educates and raises awareness in the community.

Space4Action website.

Support for children and young people

NSPCC

Childline

Barnardo’s

Family Lives

Support for employers

Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse

Support for professionals

SafeLives is providing guidance and support to professionals and those working in the domestic abuse sector, as well as additional advice for those at risk.

Economic abuse

Office of Fair Trading - Debt Counselling Service

Telephone: +44 1624 686500

Email: debt@gov.im

Dealing with your debts Information guide

Office of Fair trading website.

The UK charity Surviving Economic Abuse has also provided additional guidance and support

Note: that some of these UK links may not be available or apply to the Isle of Man. 

Welfare benefits and housing advice

Isle of Man Government benefits and financial support

Public Sector Housing Division

Housing matters

Manx Citizens Advice Service

Safeguarding

Contact arrangements for children

Family mediation

UK Sites

National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Refuge

Women’s Aid

Men’s Advice Line

Galop - for members of the LGBT+ community

Hestia

Mobile phone apps

(these are UK based apps so some of the functionality may not work in the Isle of Man)

The Keep 

Bright Sky

Chayn

Hollie Guard

Online safe spaces

Online Safe Spaces is widget you can add on to your website, for free, enabling those experiencing domestic abuse to access support by clicking on the Safe Spaces logo/widget on your homepage.

For details on how to do this visit Why Adopt Online Safe Spaces.

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