Policy Statement on Gender-based Violence and Abuse

Advice and guidance for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The essential measures announced over recent weeks to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect our NHS have seen our day-to-day life drastically altered. We acknowledge that the order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse and want to remind anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse that there is help and support available to you.  In addition to the web links below, please note:

The government has issued guidance highlighting help and support available to you during this challenging time.

The charity Safe Lives has developed a guide for victims and survivors of domestic violence on staying safe during the COVID19 pandemic.

As alwaysif you or someone else is in immediate danger please call 999 and ask for the policeSilent calls will work if you are not safe to speak – use the Silent Solution system and call 999 and then press 55.

Policy Statement

The University along with other leading organisations in the city has pledged our support to tackle gender-based violence and is part of the campaign to make Bristol a city with a zero-tolerance approach to gender-based violence and abuse. 

Gender-based violence includes a range of behaviours which target, and are reinforced by ideas about gender, gender roles, and sexuality. Gender based violence can be experienced by people of all genders and includes: rape and sexual assault, female genital mutilation, as well as domestic abuse. 

Domestic abuse is not an issue that is restricted to personal life and it is one that affects all sections of society. We recognise that there will be employees within the University workforce who have experienced, or continue to experience, domestic abuse in their personal lives and that this may impact on work performance. As a responsible employer, we are committed to minimise the impact of domestic abuse and aim to ensure that staff that are experiencing, or have experienced domestic abuse, can feel safe and supported in the workplace.



The University has adopted the cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse as follows: 

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

 Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. 

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation, or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

 Because domestic abuse can involve wider family members, it also includes cases of forced marriage, and so-called honour related crimes.

 Further information

Annex A to this policy highlights the support that is available to those that are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.  Advice can also be sought from your HR Team or the Equality and Diversity Manager in specific cases.  Key staff in HR have received training about the different aspects of domestic abuse and will be able to talk to you about how your experiences may be affecting your work, or that of a colleague and signpost you to support services where appropriate.

 Annex A 

Sources of support for staff who may be experiencing or be affected by gender-based violence and abuse

  If you are in immediate danger you should call 999 and ask for the Police.  Then call University Security Services on 0117 331 1223 (internal 112233) to alert them. 

 If the circumstances of the situation are such that you are not confident that it is contained and safe, call University Security on 0117 331 1223 (internal 112233) for advice. 

 Local Sources of Support 

Bristol Against Violence and Abuse (BAVA) is a collection of people and organisations in Bristol working to end all types of violence and abuse against women and girls and domestic and sexual violence against men.  Their website contains information about services in the local area.

SARSAS (formerly Bristol Rape Crisis) is a specialist support service for people in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset, or South Gloucestershire, who have experienced any form of sexual violence, at any point in their lives.  They offer a confidential helpline, regular support sessions, counselling, and email support to individuals.  SARSAS also supports the friends and family of people affected by sexual violence.

Next Link provides specialist domestic abuse services for women and children in Bristol, including dedicated BME, South Asian and Somali services, and a GP referral service.  They support women who have or are experiencing domestic abuse and who need help to stay at home safely or move to safe accommodation.

 National Sources of Support

National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline provides emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse. Abuse isn’t always physical- it can be psychological, emotional, financial and sexual too. 

Karma Nirvana supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse and runs a dedicated helpline to support people who may be experiencing this form of domestic abuse.

Mens’ Advice Line provides support to men who may be experiencing domestic abuse.  They provide advice to men in heterosexual or same sex relationships and can signpost you to local support services.

The National Domestic Violence Helpline is a service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.   

Respect provides a helpline for people who are concerned about their abusive or violent behaviour towards their partners. They help direct people to programmes that support people to change their aggressive behaviours.  They also  offer an email service via their web-site.

Women’s Aid is the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. They support a network of over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the UK.