Dewis Choice Impact statement - The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 Statutory Guidance
On the 8th of July 2022, the Home Office launched the Domestic Abuse Statutory Guidance to accompany the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
The extensive guidance document details the provisions of the Act and aims to increase awareness and inform the response to domestic abuse in England and reserved matters in Wales. The guidance was produced following in-depth consultation with experts from the sector, including service providers, frontline practitioners, academics, and Commissioners.
Dewis Choice were able to contribute to the consultation process drawing on our longitudinal research that captured the ‘lived experiences’ of older victim-survivors of domestic abuse perpetrated by intimate partners, ex-intimate partners, and adult family members.
“Dewis is unique as an initiative providing a service and giving a voice through the research process to older victim-survivors to raise awareness about their help-seeking and justice seeking experiences. Two thirds of the victim-survivors who have engaged with Dewis are over 74 years old, three quarters are female, and half identify as having a disability. Being heard, and seeing their contribution being adopted in the guidance is hugely important to the older victim—survivors who have participated in Dewis research and had the courage and bravery to share their experiences from crisis to recovery during the time they engaged with our Initiative”
Director – Centre for Age Gender and Social Justice
We recommended that the guidance increased the visibility of older victim-survivors and raised awareness of the barriers and challenges faced by older people in accessing services and support. We are pleased to see that many of our recommendations are incorporated in the Statutory Guidance, including:
- The addition of a paragraph raising awareness of domestic abuse of older people in the context of relationships with care dynamics. Where an intimate partner or family member may use the victim’s needs for care and support to disguise the abuse.
- The recommendation that adult social workers receive regular, updated domestic abuse training.
- The addition of a paragraph detailing the role of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, in protecting the rights of people who lack capacity to live free from domestic abuse.
- The inclusion or a case study (provided by Dewis Choice) highlighting best practice in response to an older male victim-survivor of intimate partner abuse with needs for care and support.
We also welcome the amendment by the Domestic Act 2021, of the offence of ‘Coercive or controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship’, under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, which will come into force later in 2022. The amendment, to remove the requirement for a victim and perpetrator to be “living together,” has the potential to offer increased protection to older victim-survivors by extending the scope of the offence to apply to post-separation abuse and abuse perpetrated by family members who do not live the victim.