Armed forces domestic abuse: where to get help

Updated 30 July 2021

About domestic abuse

Domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men and can impact on anyone, regardless of background. Victims are not responsible for another person’s abusive or controlling behaviour. Any victim of domestic abuse has the right to be supported and to stay safe. There are many support services, both local and national, that can help victims of domestic abuse.

Information from the Home Office on domestic abuse and domestic violence is available and also guidance on how to report domestic abuse.

Safety planning

It is important that victims of domestic abuse think through how they can keep themselves and their children safe. More information is detailed on the Safer North Hampshire website, on their how to keep safe page.

Digital safety

Social networking sites are great for keeping in touch with family and friends, and letting the world know what you’re up to. Guidance is available on how to stay safe and to think about what you post online.

Information for victims

Am I in an abusive relationship?

Victims from within the military community can easily access local civilian support services. Support varies according to the need of the individual, and includes the chance to meet others who are in a similar situation.

Accessing local civilian support services

To find out what civilian services are available in your area type ‘domestic abuse’ into the search tool on either your local or county council website. Computer access is available at local libraries, with additional information on local support services for male and female victims available through the following link Domestic Abuse Directory’.

Police and NHS staff can also signpost to support groups; anyone can speak in confidence to their GP or health worker. Additional support is available through the following national support groups:

Naval Service Family and People Support provides a confidential service that is fully accessible by the diverse community they support and inclusive of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race and ethnicity, religion and belief, pregnancy & maternity, age disability and marital status. NS FPS work to a single point of contact called the NS FPS Portal, which allows easy access to all welfare services for families, service personnel and unit staff.

Telephone: 02392 728777 or freephone 0800 145 6088.

Army Welfare Service

Army Welfare Service provides accessible, independent, confidential and professional specialist welfare service to soldiers and their families with any personal or family difficulty. For all personal support enquiries and referrals please contact the Intake and Assessment Team on 01904 882053, or email them at

RAF SSAFA support

In addition to the wider support available through SSAFA, the RAF has commissioned a UK based personal support and social work service. Support is controlled on a regional basis, with all large and medium sized stations having SSAFA fieldworkers. The personal support and social work service can be accessed by all RAF personnel, including reserves, and their families.

Find more information on SSAFA support services on the SSAFA website.

Forcesline phone: 0800 260 6767
General enquiries phone: 020 7463 9200


Forcesline is a free, confidential telephone helpline, live chat and email service run by SSAFA. Experienced staff provide a supportive listening and signposting service for current and former members of the armed forces and their families. Forcesline opening hours can be accessed via the web link.

Chaplaincy support

Chaplains work within each of the armed services and are located with units throughout the world. Chaplaincy support, which is confidential and outside of the chain of command, is available to all service personnel and their families. Chaplains provide spiritual leadership, moral guidance, and pastoral support, regardless of religion or belief; the Padre is around to talk to and help everyone. Chaplaincy support can be accessed locally, with further details available through the HIVE Information Centres (see sub-section below).

Families Federation

Each of the 3 services has a Families Federation that is there to represent the needs of the service family; they are independent organisations that will offer confidential advice, signposting as well as a voice on any relevant issue.

They can be contacted by telephone or email, with key information outlined on their websites:

HIVE information centres

The HIVE is an information network available to all members of the service community. HIVE information centres provide up to date, relevant information and can be contacted in person or by either telephone or email. For locations and contact details, see the websites below:

Charity support

There are many charities that support the armed forces community, including:

Information for perpetrators

Why do people abuse?

It is important perpetrators recognise the impact of their behaviour on others, and that regardless of provocation no one has the right to bully, intimidate or hurt someone else. Without help abusive behaviour can get worse, possibly leading to criminal proceedings, which can impact on civilian and military careers.

Support is available for those who are looking to get help and address their behaviour. Local services will actively signpost perpetrators to suitable support groups.

Accessing local civilian support services

To find out what civilian services are available type ‘domestic abuse’ into the search tool on either your local or county council website; computer access is available at local libraries.

The police and NHS staff will also signpost to support groups; anyone can speak in confidence to their GP or health worker.

Additional support is available through the Respect Phoneline (often referred to as Respect) which is a national telephone support line for male and female perpetrators, concerned family members and friends, victims and frontline workers. Additional information can be found on the Respect Phoneline website.

The support network for the armed forces community is outlined in the above section; information for victims. Within this section general information can be found for the following support elements:

  • Naval Service Family and People Support (NS FPS)
  • Army Welfare Service
  • RAF SSAFA Support
  • Forcesline
  • Chaplaincy Support
  • Families Federation
  • HIVE Information Centres
  • Charity support

Perpetrators can access these support providers and, if available, will then be signposted onto a local perpetrator support group.

Information for the chain of command

Chain of command responsibilities

Domestic abuse is both indefensible and unacceptable; the armed forces do not condone domestic abuse. The chain of command must ensure this message is communicated throughout their unit, whilst also ensuring the necessary support is provided to both victims and perpetrators. This support should only be provided by specialist welfare providers, either military (RN RM Welfare, Army Welfare Service, SSAFA Fieldworker) or civilian.

Tri-service policy

The main policy document for the armed forces is Joint Service Publication (JSP) 913, whole force policy on domestic abuse. JSP 913 details the responsibilities of the chain of command and the procedures for military welfare provision.

Each of the 3 services have additional policies that are Royal Navy, army or Royal Air Force specific.

The main policy documents for the army are:

  • Army General Administrative Instruction (AGAI) 81
  • Army Briefing Note (ABN) 103/14

The main policy documents for the RAF are:-

  • Air Publication (AP) 3392 Volume 2 Leaflet 2414 (Domestic abuse practice policy)
  • AP 1722 Part 3 Leaflet 3528 (RAF Police procedures for domestic abuse, sexual violence and child protection)
  • RAF Internal Briefing Note (IBN) 49/14 (Dealing with domestic abuse in the RAF)

A number of additional tri-service policies that may be relevant to cases of domestic abuse are outlined below:

JSP 770 Tri-service operational and non-operational welfare policy. This policy also refers to domestic abuse.

JSP 763 MOD bullying and harassment complaints procedure. This policy gives direction on the “separation of parties” which could be used in cases of domestic abuse between serving personnel; particularly those living in single living accommodation.

2014 DIN 01-209 Guidance to commanding officers and victims when dealing with allegations of serious criminal offences including sexual offences. Within this DIN the commanding officer has the option of managing working patterns, moving the victim or offender and offering a career change or compassionate discharge where appropriate and/or required.

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