2 million adults are affected by domestic abuse every year. It is crucial that the government does their part in protecting and supporting those victims of domestic abuse. To do so, the United Kingdom government has introduced a new draft of the Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament.
The draft has four primary objectives, promoting awareness, protecting and supporting victims, transforming the justice process, and improving performance on domestic abuse.
The Domestic Abuse Bill aims to bring more awareness to the public so that victims know they are not alone, and professionals know the signs of abuse and are equipped with the right tools to help.
The bill proposes to introduce Relationship Education in all primary schools and Relationship and Sex Education in all secondary schools. Students in primary schools will be taught what makes a healthy and respectful relationship while students in secondary schools will continue to build on that knowledge and learn what constitutes as a healthy intimate relationship. Additionally, projects and helplines are being funded to help increase community awareness.
The definition of domestic abuse will also be reworked to include all types of abusive relationships that exist. Domestic abuse training will be also be provided to police officers, social workers, and probation services.
Protecting and Supporting Victims
To help support victims, the government launched a Victims Strategy that has allocated £8 million to help improve the lives of victims. Funding for this strategy is now increased to help create services for the disabled, elderly, LGBT+ and male victims.
The bill also proposes a simpler and more effective protective order process. The new protective order known as a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) is a straightforward application process that is available to the police, victims, or other parties. This order helps to stop future abuse and ensure the safety of victims and their children.
Transforming the Justice Process
Going through the justice system can be a terrifying experience for any victim, especially those of domestic abuse. To help ease the process and prevent any future trauma, domestic abuse victims are eligible for special measures in criminal trials. The new legislature will prevent the cross examination of a victim in front of their abuser.
In addition to protecting victims in court, £1m will be allocated to Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors (FLOWS), an organisation that provides legal advice for women experiencing domestic abuse.
Improving performance on domestic abuse
Under the new bill, the UK government has also committed to develop a a better way to collect, report and track domestic abuse data. The government will also look closely at local initiatives and how agencies respond to abuse in order to identify which methods are the most successful.