Domestic Abuse Bill

Written evidence submitted by Mr RS Wells, Director of, Domestic Abuse Business Support Ltd "Bridging the Gap Project." (DAB28)

REF: House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-21



Written evidence of Mr RS Wells, Director of, Domestic Abuse Business Support Ltd.


1. I am writing to you today as the Director of Domestic Abuse Business Support Ltd (DABS) the home of the "Bridging the Gap Project." I am also writing as a former Military Police officer who attended and dealt with, many "domestic" incidents during my thirteen years of service. But most importantly, I’m writing to you as a survivor of female perpetrated domestic abuse.

2. I want to thank you al , l for the part that you’re playing as member s of the House of Commons Public Bill Committee , Scrutiny Unit , on Domestic Abuse. The Domestic Abuse Bill could not have come at a more crucial time, as Covid-19 shines a spotlight on domestic abuse, with a sharp increase in incidents across the U.K. and the rest of the world.

3. Domestic Abuse Business Support Ltd, supports the Domestic Abuse Bill in principle and in particular:

· We fully support the Government in ensuring that the statutory definition of domestic abuse is fully gender inclusive/neutral. Thereby ensuring there is full alignment with both the reality of domestic abuse in the UK and a 21st century modern, inclusive and diverse country. This will reflect a human rights-based and non-ideological view of domestic abuse.

Why do we support this?

4. D espite a commitment to support all victims, domestic abuse is still seen by the majority of Governments and other national and international organisations, as an issue that exclusively affects women and girls. Male victims, (gay, straight, bisexual and transgender) may get a brief mention during debates but their experiences are often immediately minimised .

I see and hear the following on a regular basis:

"The evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of victims are women."

The UK Statistics Authority upheld complaints in 2009 and 2019, over the misleading use of the phrase "overwhelming majority" to refer to the proportion of female victims of domestic abuse.

"Relatively small numbers of men."

A substantial 786,000 men, were recorded victims of domestic abuse last year, with men being recognised as three times less likely to report their abuse than women. Many of these 786,000 men will have children that are also suffering.

"Men experience abuse to a lesser degree."

My experiences still haunt me a decade after leaving my abusive partner. At my lowest point, I attempted to commit suicide because I could see no other way out. To minimise an individual’s experience, simply because of their gender, is reprehensible.

M en are often only mentioned when discussing the need for perpetrator programmes.

Female perpetrators are being let down, by domestic abuse organisations that fail to recognise them. There have been a number of studies that show that perpetrators are often victims of some form of historical abuse themselves and this was certainly the case with my abuser. However, whilst there are a number of male perpetrator programs in the U.K., female perpetrator programs, remain scarce. Therefore, those women perpetrating domestic abuse, can’t get the help that they need and inevitably, move on to abuse other men (or women) and their children.

5. The bold statements and comments above, are factually incorrect and are based only on prejudice and discrimination . We are finding that the domestic abuse discussions today, are gynocentric, with gamma bias, playing a pivotal role.

6. Each time a G overnment M inister talk s about domestic abuse in The House of Commons or to the press, because a new campaign is being launched, a new law introduced, or another media article published, they have the opportunity to reach out and offer hope to all victims and their children . But when they talk about domestic abuse as an issue that only affects women and girls, it sends out a very loud and clear message to male victims and their children , that they’re invisible and that nobody cares about them. It also increases their level of isolation and despair, pushing them further into the arms of their abuser.

7. Bridging the Gap is a global project, aiming to change the written and verbal language that we all use, to discuss domestic abuse. We hope to bring people together, who support the idea, that no Individual sufferer, survivor or perpetrator of domestic abuse, should receive preferential treatment, simply because of their gender. We believe that all victims, deserve to be equally recognised and supported, regardless of their gender, ability, sexuality, ethnicity, religion or social and workplace position.

8. We hope that we can achieve this, by encouraging people like yoursel ves , to support the Bridging the Gap Project, by us ing gender neutral and inclusive language within the Bill , that fosters genuine equality and encourag es others to do the same. In turn, we hope that over time, this change in language, will help to break down the social stigma and gendered stereotypes that surround domestic abuse , and result in male victims being discriminated against, by those that should be there to help them. A discrimination that is contrary to the E qualit y A ct 2010.

9. If gender was placed in the statutory definition, then this will lead to the creation of a victim hierarchy rather than being based on individual risk/need of a victim (and their children). This is not in keeping with equality-based, diverse or inclusive policy making or law.

10. Domestic Abuse Business Support Ltd also supports the measures regarding the cross examination of victims within the family courts. And the proposed inclusion of Economic Abuse in the new legal definition of domestic abuse.

11. In a further commitment to improve the language we use when discussing domestic abuse, I would ask that you consider using the term "domestic abuse," as a replacement for "domestic violence , " within the Bill.

12. By using the term "domestic violence" it only reinforces the belief in society, that you are not a victim unless you are being punched, slapped, kicked or grabbed. We need to educate society, that domestic abuse is far more than a punch or a slap and in doing so, I’m sure that we will see far more men and women, recognising that they are actually in, an abusive relationship.

13. I believe that the Bill should include parental alienation "as a clearly defined act of domestic abuse against a parent." "PAS [Parental Alienation Syndrome] has an impact on the alienated parent (ex-partner) that is clearly aimed at causing psychological, emotional and financial abuse against them. It is also clearly controlling and coercive behaviour and would fit under the government definition of domestic abuse"

14. The psychological, emotional and financial abuse caused by PAS involves:

The deliberate nature and behaviour of manipulating a child against an ex-partner causing psychological and emotional harm;

The deliberate nature and behaviour of manipulating a child against an ex-partner is coercive and controlling behaviour;

The psychological and emotional harm against an ex-partner by the wilful, deliberate and continual breach of Child Arrangement Orders;

The financial abuse by the wilful and continual breach of Child Arrangement Orders means the non-resident partner having to constantly seek further legal redress ultimately with financial burden of doing so.

In conclusion, Parental Alienation Syndrome would fit squarely with the government’s proposed statutory definition of domestic abuse and should be included as such."

15. I would respectfully request, that the Scrutiny Unit of the House of Commons Public Bill Committee on Domestic Abuse, support the work of the "Bridging the Gap Project," to help to make the Domestic Abuse Bill, the beginning of a Government commitment to end gendered language and uphold the Equality Act .

16. I would be happy to meet any Member of Parliament that would be willing to hear my story of abuse, it’s long term affects and how the negative, gender stereotyping of men, as always being the perpetrator and women always the victim, seriously affected the way I was treated by the authorities.

Yours sincerely,

Robert S Wells

May 2020


Prepared 11th June 2020