Domestic Abuse & Harassment
In March 2013 the government amended its definition of domestic violence, this now states:
"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 encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
This definition includes so called ‘honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.
Domestic violence is most commonly experienced by women and perpetrated by men, although some men can also be victims of abuse in both gay and heterosexual relationships. Any woman can experience domestic violence regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability or lifestyle. Domestic violence and abuse also affects children, who are almost always witnesses to the abuse. Domestic violence can also take place in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships. This can include forced marriage and so-called 'honour crimes'.
All forms of domestic violence and abuse stem from the abuser's desire for power and control over their partners or other family members and may include a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are in themselves inherently 'violent'.
What to do if you are experiencing Domestic Abuse
A lots of help and advice is out there. You should contact one of the following agencies who can help with either advice or re-housing.
- Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence - Website
- West Mecia Womens Aid - 0800 980 3331 -Website
- Women's Aid (Women Only) - 0808 2000 247 - Website
- Galop - Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experiencing domestic violence- National helpline: 0300 999 5428 - Website
- Mankind Initiative- (Men Only)- National helpline: 01823 334244 -Website
- Worcester City Council Housing Department - Contact Details
- Police - You can call the police on 0300 333 3000. In an emergency dial 999 - Website
Help is also available for abusers. Anyone worried about their behaviour towards their partner can visit Respect at their website or call their helpline on 0845 122 8609.
A programme for men wanting to change their behaviour is also available (currently only in Worcestershire). For more information see the The SVPP Action to Change Programme Leaflet .The referral line is available at 0845 155 0395 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
What help can the Housing Department provide
The Housing Advice Department can provide advice, support and re-housing options if you are experiencing Domestic Abuse. Worcester City Council can offer the following services:
- Sanctuary Scheme - The Sanctuary Scheme is a grant which provides security measures for your home. For further information visit the Housing Grants Page.
- Refuge - The Housing Advice Department can try and source a refuge for you to stay.
- Housing Options - The Housing Advice Department can provide you with other housing options. Please visit the Housing Options Page for further details.
- Support - The Housing Advice Department can arrange for you to receive support if you do not feel leaving your accommodation is the best option for you.
If you require any further information about Domestic Abuse please do not hesitate to contact the Housing Advice Department. You can also find more information about Domestic Abuse by visiting the Shelter Website and by reading this Domestic Abuse Leaflet.
What is Harassment?
To be classed as harassment, offensive behaviour must happen on at least two occasions. The more times something has happened, the more likely it is to be harassment. The person accused is at fault if they know what they are doing is harassment, or if it obviously is harassment. Harassment can take a number of different forms, for example:
- Visiting your home regularly without warning, especially late at night.
- Interfering with your post.
- Sending hate mail, texts or emails or making unpleasant telephone calls.
- Threatening you.
- Harassing you because of your gender, race or sexuality.
- Stalking you.
What isn't harassment
Noise nuisance eg playing music loudly or operating loud machinery is not likely to be considered harassment in the eyes of the law. If you would like more information about noise nuisance then please visit the Enviromental Health Website or the Shelter Website.
Why does harassment occur?
It is often hard to understand why harassment happens, but it may help you to stop it if you know the reason why. Common causes include:
- Antisocial behaviour.
- Bigotry, prejudice and intolerance, by reason of race, religion, sexuality etc.
- An ex partner or ex spouse who feels aggrieved (although this may often be classed as domestic abuse please visit the Domestic Abuse Page for further information).
- Mental health or substance misuse problems.
- Someone you have made a complaint about who wants to retaliate.
- Someone who is not happy about something that you are doing.
Harassment can't be justified, but in some situations there are things you can do to help resolve the problem. For example, if a neighbour threatens you because your loud music keeps him up all night, your music is part of the problem. Often more than one cause is at work. Try to understand the reason for the harassment, and that will help you to decide what is the best way of dealing with it.
Dealing with harassment
If someone is harassing you, you can take steps to stop the harassment, and the police and the Council may be able to help. If you are a tenant, your landlord will also have a duty of care towards you. You can also go to court to prevent the harassment.
You should start by taking practical steps to protect yourself. That may solve the problem, but if not, there are a lot of other things you can try. The action you take depends on what the problem is, how bad the problem is and what, if anything, you have already tried to do about it. It is always a good idea to get advice from a local advice centre like Worcester Housing And Benefit Advice Centre.
What can we do?
- Encourage you to report the situation to the police and other agencies/support workers/friends and family if not already done so.
- Signpost you to agencies who can assist you with negotiation and mediation with your neighbours and who may be able to support you.
- Speak to your landlord to see how they are trying to ensure your safety.
- Advise you on civil and criminal action you can take.
- Make recommendations on how to collect evidence against your neighbours.
- Advise you on emergency accommodation options if necessary.
- Advise you on your housing options if you feel you no longer want to remain in the property (please see the Housing Options Page for further information).
- Where there has been anti-social behaviour and neighbour disputes we will check with local Family Intervention Project to establish if either household is known to them.
- If you are a Housing Association tenant we will contact the landlord and ensure that investigations and actions are being taken under their anti-social behaviour procedures.
- Agree actions that will be taken by landlord including:
- Options to move temporarily or permanently.
- Warning the perpetrator.
- Additional security in victim's home.
- Action being taken under landlord's harassment or victim support policy.