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What domestic abuse is

The cross-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 include 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, which is not a legal 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.

Finding out about a partner's history of domestic abuse

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) is commonly known as Clare's Law and named after Clare Wood who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2009.
The scheme allows information about an individual's history of domestic abuse to be disclosed to a new partner. This is to help them make an informed decision about the relationship. It also signposts potential victims to specialist domestic abuse services.
The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of gender.

Who can ask for information?

Anybody can make an enquiry, but information will only be given to someone at risk, or a person in a position to safeguard the victim.

Partner agencies can also request that information is given about an offender's past history if they believe that someone is at risk of harm.

How to request information

If you want to make an application for information under the DVDS, call Dorset Police on 101.

More information and an application form can be found on the Dorset Police website.

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