Signs of abuse in the armed forces

The Armed Forces

Domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking affect people in the Armed Forces Community too.

We understand that members of the Armed Forces community can feel particularly worried about the consequences of seeking support. That’s why we provide a dedicated service to help service personnel and their families.

Abuse and the Armed Forces

The Armed Forces Community is unique, and service life brings with it a number of challenges. This can make it harder for people to ask for help when they are experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking. It might sometimes mean they don’t talk about their experiences at all.

At Aurora, we recognise that service life is different, and that people in the forces community are often worried about the consequences of speaking out about these issues. We have designed our Armed Forces support service with this in mind.

Our specialist team understand service life, and how difficult it can be to talk about what is happening. Domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking is never ok: we want to make sure that those with links to the armed forces get support that has been designed especially for them.

“Because you work with the forces it’s not like talking to a normal civilian as things in the forces are done differently and you can support us and make the service tailored to us” – Aurora victim/survivor

What do the Armed Forces say about domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking?

The Armed Forces are clear that behaviours like domestic abuse, stalking and sexual violence are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Abusing or harming others in any way is directly at odds with service Values & Standards, like these from the British Army

No Defence for Abuse‘ (the first Defence Domestic Abuse Strategy, launched in 2018) outlines a clear commitment, across the defence community, to:

“…work to remove any stigma, real and perceived barriers to reporting domestic abuse to foster a culture that gives survivors confidence that they will be listened to and offered appropriate and professional support”

The main policy document addressing domestic abuse within the Armed Forces is JSP 913: Whole Force Policy on Domestic Abuse. This details how Defence personnel affected by domestic abuse should be supported and sets out roles and responsibilities of the organisation, including the responsibilities of the chain of command and the procedures for military welfare provision.

“Domestic abuse is incompatible with our values and standards and constitutes criminal offences. It therefore stands that it will not be tolerated and we will continue to confront it on numerous levels as detailed in our wider strategy. Furthermore, we will continue to promote a culture where domestic abuse has no place and where those impacted know they will be effectively supported”

Lieutenant General James Swift

Chief of Defence People

Functional Owner for People

The Ministry of Defence has also published JSP 769: Zero Tolerance to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, making it clear that:

“Sexual Exploitation and Abuse is unacceptable. Defence considers this to be grounds for termination of employment and/ or the discharge from the Armed Forces.”

JSP 769 is part of a range of measures intended to tackle unacceptable sexual behaviour in the UK armed forces and reflects a tri-service commitment to improved responses for victims, as well as holding perpetrators to account for their behaviour.


© Photo by ContactPhotography

What support does Aurora provide to the Armed Forces community?

We offer support to any serving member of the British Army or Royal Navy who is experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence or stalking. We also offer support to dependents of Army or Royal Naval personnel who are experiencing these issues.

Please note: Due to funding restrictions we regret that we are not currently able to support RAF personnel or their dependents.

Our service is available to people aged 16 and over, regardless of whether they have made an official report to the police (service or civilian).

We work with victims/survivors on a one-to-one basis, offering specialist advice tailored to their individual situation and support needs. We will support someone for as long as required.

Our work prioritises safety and wellbeing. We use nationally recognised risk and needs assessment tools to ensure we provide the best possible support, reduce the risk of harm and keep victims/survivors, their families and their children safe.

Our work is also client centred. That means we work with victims/survivors based on what they want to do, and we will not put pressure on them to take a particular course of action if they are not ready.

Where are you based?

We are based in Portsmouth (UK) but will accept referrals for those based both across the UK and abroad.

For those local to the service, we offer both face to face and telephone support. For those living further away (or abroad), we can offer support by telephone or video call depending on what the individual feels comfortable with.

If an individual would like face to face support local to them, we are happy to work with them to help them access specialist local services and ensure that those services understand their support needs.

If I contact you, who will you tell? Is the service confidential?

We are a confidential service and we are independent of the Armed Forces. It is important to us that victims/survivors know they can access our support in confidence and without fear that their information will be shared with others unnecessarily. We know that this is something that often causes particular anxiety for those in the forces community.

We will not discuss your case or share your information with any other individual or organisation (forces or civilian), except where you have given your consent for us to do this, or where we are concerned that you, another adult or a child is at risk of harm.

We do know from experience that the best way to support any victim/survivor as effectively as possible is to work alongside relevant forces services (such as welfare) and other agencies in a co-ordinated way. We will ask you for your explicit permission to contact identified personnel, professionals and organisations that can help your situation, and we will always explain what we will share with them and why.

Aurora’s experience and expertise:

Aurora have been delivering support to members of the forces community for a number of years. We have built strong relationships with the Army and Royal Navy, and we work closely with them to ensure that victims/survivors receive the support that they need in relation to domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.

Our staff have extensive experience and specialist training in domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking. We use recognised risk and needs assessment tools to ensure that all our clients get the support that is right for them and their situation.

As part of our work we also deliver training to forces personnel on a regular basis and provide individual case consultancy and guidance on request.

Victims/survivors tell us that working with a service that understands forces life is important to them, and it is important to us that we put their voices and lived experiences at the centre of what we do.

We are also proud supporters of the Armed Forces Covenant and hold the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Bronze award. A number of our current staff have forces connections: we are committed to being a forces-friendly organisation and one that is open employing reservists, armed forces veterans and military spouses/partners.

“You understand all the extra things we have to go through – like moving house, moving around a lot and things like that” – Aurora victim/survivor

How can I contact you?

If you are a member of the forces community looking for support around these issues, please get in touch. You can contact us in a number of ways:

Where else can I get support?

If you are in immediate danger, or concerned for your safety, please call the police on 999


  • The Army Welfare Service (AWS) provide accessible, independent, confidential and professional specialist welfare services to serving soldiers and their families with any personal or family difficulty, including the issues outlined on this page. You can contact the team on 01904 882053 or email them at

Royal Navy & Royal Marines:

  • The Royal Navy Family and People Support (RN FPS) team offer confidential advice and support, including in relation to domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking. RN FPS operate a single point of contact called the Portal, which provides easy access to all welfare services for families, service personnel and unit staff. You can contact them on 0800 145 6088 or find more information here


  • 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
  • Email:


  • SSAFA provides support to anyone who is currently serving, or has ever served, and their families including those experiencing domestic abuse. Their Stepping Stones Homes are a safe place to stay for women and their children. You can contact them on 0800 731 4880.
  • 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 (opening hours can be accessed via the web link).

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