Common Concerns

Some common concerns often raised by victims and perpetrators from the armed forces community include:

  • I am worried about the impact on my partner’s career (serving perpetrator)
  • I am worried about the impact on my career (serving victim)
  • I am worried about the confidentiality of the military support services
  • I am worried about leaving my quarter (Service Families Accommodation, SFA)
  • I am worried about leaving the military community
  • I am worried about the impact on my children’s education
  • I am worried I will lose contact with my children
  • I am worried about the impact on my visa application
  • I am embarrassed asking for help
  • Seeking support from a welfare worker who is the same gender
  • Problems with alcohol

Feedback on these common concerns is detailed below.

Domestic abuse is more common than people think; 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced domestic abuse in their lifetime. The best thing you can do is ask for help. You can get confidential support from specialist armed forces welfare providers or from local civilian support services. You will not be the first person to make a disclosure of domestic abuse and professional welfare providers, be they military or civilian, are very experienced in supporting victims of domestic abuse. Go to the ‘Information for Victims’ section of this website for the contact details of both military and civilian support providers.  To find out what services are available in your area type ‘domestic abuse’ into the search tool on either your local or county council website; if required, computer access is available at local libraries.

I am worried about the impact on my partner’s career (serving perpetrator)

This is often the primary concern which stops victims from seeking help and reporting cases of domestic abuse; perpetrators will often maximise this fear to threaten the victim and secure their silence. Early stages of domestic abuse tend to involve non-criminal behaviour which, if raised, can be dealt with without necessarily impacting on a serving perpetrator’s career. Once a criminal offence has taken place then a punishment or sanction may affect an individual’s career. There are a wide range of sanctions, of which termination of service (discharge) would be used in only the most extreme cases. If a victim is concerned about possible career consequences they can seek confidential advice from one of the armed forces welfare providers (RN RM Welfare, AWS, SSAFA fieldworkers).

Go to the ‘Information for Victims’ section of this website for the contact details of both military and civilian support providers. 

I am worried about the impact on my career (serving victim)

Domestic abuse is not tolerated within the armed forces and any victim of domestic abuse will be supported; there would be no impact on a serving victim’s career. General awareness and understanding of this issue is also improving, and it is recognised that men and women alike are affected by domestic abuse. If a serving victim is concerned about possible career consequences they can seek confidential advice from one of the armed forces welfare providers (RN RM Welfare, AWS, SSAFA fieldworkers). Serving victims may also want to discuss concerns they have for their children, possibly regarding their safety when they are away on deployments or training. If required, specific action can be taken within the working environment to help protect the victim and may include time off to speak with a solicitor or the opportunity to move into single service accommodation. A serving victim should highlight their concerns to the Chain of Command, who will be flexible and supportive and wherever possible will help facilitate solutions.

Go to the ‘Information for Victims’ section of this website for the contact details of both military and civilian support providers. 

I am worried about the confidentiality of the military support services

All military units have an established welfare support structure to call upon. Local support is carried out by The Royal Naval Divisional System, Army Unit Welfare Officers and RAF personnel staffs; these services may be obliged to report certain circumstances to the chain of command. The main armed forces welfare providers such as RN RMWelfare, AWS and SSAFA fieldworkers are independent of the chain of command. They work to a specific code of confidentiality, in accordance with legal requirements, which would be explained during any initial contact.

Go to the ‘Information for Victims’ section of this website for the contact details of both military and civilian support providers. 

I am worried about leaving my quarter (Service Families Accommodation, SFA)

Service housing is provided for armed forces personnel who are married; if a couple separate they will be able to remain in service accommodation for a maximum of six months (93 days cooling off period followed by a 93 day notice to vacate period). The exception would be when a serving individual needs to retain a house because they need to be able to accommodate their children. A victim who is not a serving member of the armed forces would therefore have to leave service housing if they separate from their partner. They will have to vacate the property within a set period of time; normally 93 days from the day the serving person changes their marital status on JPA (notice to vacate). In some circumstances it may be possible to extend this period although it may attract market rates. RN RM Welfare, AWS and the SSAFA fieldworkers, as well as military charities and local authorities, will actively support a family as they move home and transition out of the military community.   Additional housing considerations are detailed below:

Go to the ‘Information for Victims’ section of this website for the contact details of both military and civilian support providers. 

I am worried about leaving the military community

Victims of domestic abuse who are not serving are often worried about leaving the military community were they to separate from their partner. This can be very daunting, especially when people have spent a long period of time in this environment, and they also enjoy the way of life as well as the opportunities that are available to them. If a victim is thinking of leaving an abusive relationship they should think about where they would like to settle. Do they want to remain in the area, or would they possibly prefer to move closer to their family or friends? They should think about what they would want and come up with some possible options. It may all seem very difficult initially although the benefits in the longer term can make it all worthwhile. Armed forces families are often used to moving, and are more resilient than they may at first think. RN RM Welfare, AWS and the SSAFA fieldworkers would also be able to help with the process of transition into a civilian community.

Go to the ‘Information for Victims’ section of this website for the contact details of both military and civilian support providers. 

I am worried about the impact on my children’s education

Victims of domestic abuse are often concerned about the impact on their children’s education were they to leave an abusive relationship. These concerns are looked at in more detail below:

Additional information. For those parents who require additional information regarding education, the following organisations may be of help:

    • Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS).   CEAS provide expert and impartial advice about the education of Service children stationed overseas.
    • Service Children’s Education (SCE).   SCE provide educational support for Service children stationed overseas.
    • Service Children in State Schools (SCISS) Handbook.   This Handbook is a guide for teachers and other professionals outlining the specific needs of Service children.
    •  Families Federation. Each of the three Services has a Families Federation that will offer confidential advice on issues such as education:
    • The needs of the Service child.   Separation may involve a school change, with a possible move to a school that may not understand the specific needs of the Service child. If this is the case the parent should ask the current school to liaise closely with the receiving school. More information can be found on the websites detailed above (see SCE and SCISS Handbook
    • Retention of Service Families Accommodation (SFA).   It may be possible to retain SFA if there is an educational need. If a child is about to take GCSEs or A-Levels, and their Service parent is posted, they are entitled to remain in their quarter until they have completed that stage of their education. If their parents separate, the Occupancy Management Centre (OMC) can “consider” factors, such as educational impact, to allow them to retain their quarter until they complete a crucial stage of education; this is at the discretion of OMC and a CEAS statement is likely to be required.
    • Schools Admissions Code.   If a family is posted to a new area, and there is not a place for their child in the local school, the Schools Admission Code allows the school to increase the class size to accommodate the Service child. If a Service family separates, the former spouse and child may move to a different area. They may wish to return to their home area to be closer to their family, for example. They would not currently be able to apply this part of the Schools Admission Code if they were unable to gain a place at the local school.
    • Service Pupil Premium.   The pupil premium is based on a child living with a Service person, even if they are not their biological parent. For those parents who divorced after 2011 and whose children were already in school and receiving the premium in 2011, they can continue to receive it for the next six years. If however another child in the family started school after 2011, they would no longer be able to receive the pupil premium.
    • Continuity of Education Allowance.   Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is covered in the Tri-Service Regulations for Allowance (JSP 752). Anyone with a query regarding CEA should contact the Continuity of Education Allowance Governance Team (CEAGT) who are part of CEAS. Their contact details are available on the CEAS website detailed above.

I am worried I will lose contact with my children

Serving parents can be particularly concerned about maintaining contact with their children because of the friction of military service. This can include overseas deployments, regular training commitments and frequent postings, both in the UK and overseas. In the case of Serving parents, the armed forces will always endeavour to manage these situations sympathetically and will help facilitate a solution wherever possible. Additional information for parents is available here.

I am worried about the impact on my visa application

Non-British spouses of armed forces personnel may be dependent on their partner for their immigration status. In abusive relationships this reliance can be used as a threat to silence the victim. Cases of domestic abuse where either one or both partners are Foreign and Commonwealth nationals can impact on their immigration status and the right to reside in the UK; this is a very complicated issue. When a victim of domestic abuse is not a British citizen it is important to seek qualified immigration advice as soon as possible after a relationship has broken down rather than wait until their current visa has expired. When the perpetrator is residing in the UK on a dependant’s visa, a breakdown in the relationship will mean their visa is no longer valid and they will have to return to their country of origin.

Domestic abuse victims (and their children) who are subject to UK immigration controls, may be eligible for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if they have experienced domestic abuse as the partner of a British citizen, a person settled in the UK, or a Foreign or Commonwealth member of the Armed Forces who has served for at least 4 years. The Domestic Violence Concession allows domestic abuse victims to apply for settlement (ILR) in their own right, enabling access to UK state support. Spouses or partners of service personnel who are not British citizens or have not settled in the UK and who have not yet served for four years are not eligible for leave to remain under the domestic violence provisions. They would need to take Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) accredited advice on whether they were eligible to remain for other reasons.

Any victim of domestic abuse who intends to apply for ILR should seek qualified immigration advice before submitting an application. The Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) has a register of regulated immigration advisers, including those who do not charge clients for advice or services; the register is detailed at Regulated Immigration Adviser. More information on this process, including the eligibility of children, can be found here.

I am embarrassed asking for help

It is not uncommon for victims of domestic abuse to feel embarrassed asking for help. It is nothing to be ashamed about and asking for help is the right thing to do. Domestic abuse is also more common than people think; 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced domestic abuse in their lifetime. Some victims may be embarrassed approaching their local armed forces welfare provider; if this is the case victims from the armed forces community can always approach their local civilian support services. You will not be the first person to make a disclosure of domestic abuse and professional welfare providers, be they military or civilian, are very experienced in supporting victims of domestic abuse.

Perpetrators who are worried about their behaviour can voluntarily access civilian based support e.g. telephone help lines or community based perpetrator support programmes. Seeking help as a perpetrator is the right thing to do, and you do not need to inform anyone from the armed forces. Arrangements to attend the longer term programmes may require Chain of Command support if there may be an impact on military commitments.

Seeking support from a welfare worker who is the same gender

Although no guarantee can be made, if it is important to you, please ask to see a welfare worker who is the same gender. Both military and civilian welfare providers will make every effort to support you, and will take any request you may have seriously.

Problems with alcohol

In a large number of domestic abuse incidents alcohol is often a common factor. Alcohol is not an excuse for domestic abuse, although it can contribute to a perpetrators violent behaviour; individuals will often use alcohol to help cope with and hide other concerns or issues. Individuals with an alcohol problem should seek advice from their GP, medical centre or alternatively contact a local drug and alcohol support group.