This page provides the background, context and our policy activity surrounding domestic abuse and speech, language and communication.
Background and context
Domestic abuse and speech, language and communication needs are deeply intertwined. Communication difficulties can impact both victims and perpetrators, and may act as a barrier to both parties accessing support services. Speech and language therapists have a crucial role to play in supporting both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, and the professionals working with and supporting them.
People with disabilities – including speech, language and communication needs – are more likely to experience domestic abuse at a greater severity for longer periods of time, in part because they may be specifically targeted. Furthermore, their communication difficulties may prevent them from understanding what has happened to them, communicating it to others, and accessing services and support.
Children and young people who witness domestic abuse are also classed as victims under new provisions in the Domestic Abuse Act (2021). Experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse can impact their educational attainment, ability to form positive relationships, employment prospects, physical and mental health and wellbeing, and their life chances.
Some perpetrators of domestic abuse may have speech, language and communication needs which may not be identified or supported. This can impact their ability to access rehabilitation and prevention programmes, which may increase risks of reoffending.
Since mid-2020, the RCSLT has been working to influence primary and secondary legislation related to domestic abuse, in order to ensure that it is designed to support people with speech, language and communication needs.
For more information on RCSLT influencing of the Domestic Abuse Act:
- House of Lords Second Reading briefing (PDF)
- House of Lords Committee Stage briefing (PDF)
- House of Lords Report Stage briefing (PDF)
- House of Lords Report Stage debate summary (PDF)
- Royal Assent policy statement (PDF)
For more information on RCSLT influencing of statutory guidance related to domestic abuse and violence against women and girls (VAWG):
- Draft domestic abuse statutory guidance framework – consultation response (PDF)
- RCSLT response to the final domestic abuse statutory guidance (PDF)
- Draft controlling or coercive behaviour statutory guidance – consultation response (PDF)
For more information on government activity related to domestic abuse (England and Wales only):