EFFORTS to protect more people from domestic abuse are being supported by Stratford District Council.
For the first time, through the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, domestic abuse is legally defined – referencing emotional abuse, financial and economic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour and post-separation abuse.
Legal changes to support victims include an end to the ‘rough sex’ defence, an extension of the ‘revenge porn’ offence, and the creation of a new non-fatal strangulation offence.
It also means recognition of children as victims and survivors if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse.
And a new domestic abuse commissioner will gather data on domestic abuse, supporting specialist organisations and acting as an independent voice.
The act also places a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to survivors and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation. Survivors made homeless as a result of abuse will automatically qualify for ‘priority need’; survivors with lifetime or assured tenancies will not lose them if they need to move as a result of abuse.
The government has made available the domestic abuse safe accommodation funding – allocated to both Warwickshire County Council – just over £1million – and to districts and borough councils.
SDC has been awarded £34,416 for the current year.
This will support the development of the Safe Accommodation Strategy* and the demand for additional temporary accommodation due to the new act.
SDC wellbeing spokeswoman Coun Jo Barker said: “Domestic abuse impacts the lives of many of our residents, families and communities.
“I know, as I speak to a lot of – mostly – women about the dreadful domestic situations they survive or have fled from. So the contents of the new act are welcome and provides more protection to domestic abuse victims and survivors across Warwickshire.
“For many victims the fear of homelessness keeps them and their families in dangerous situations and often forces them to return to the person causing harm. We know that leaving home and seeking refuge can be literally lifesaving for many who are fleeing. This additional funding will help us to continue to work with partners to help victims and provide support for them and their children in safe accommodation.”
Help and support can be found through Warwickshire Domestic Violence Service on 0800 408 1552 or at www.talk2someone.org.uk/support-services.