Domestic Abuse

INTRODUCTION 

Prolonged and/or regular exposure to domestic abuse can have a serious impact on a child’s development and emotional well being as well as his or her physical safety. As such it is one of the potential causes of significant harm to children which may warrant the use of the child protection procedures

DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC ABUSE

Domestic violence and abuse is defined in law as: 

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:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

The new definition of domestic abuse has been extended to include not only coercive control but also young people under the age of 18 The previous definition defined domestic violence as a single act or incident. The new definition recognises that patterns of behaviour and separate instances of control can add up to abuse - including instances of intimidation, isolation, depriving victims of their financial independence or material possessions and regulating their everyday behaviour;

Controlling behaviour

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 control

The previous definition defined domestic violence as a single act or incident. The new definition recognises that patterns of behaviour and separate instances of control can add up to abuse - including instances of intimidation, isolation, depriving victims of their financial independence or material possessions and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Definition of domestic violence and abuse: guide for local areas

To help local areas consider the consider how the extension to the definition of domestic violence and abuse may impact on their services, the Home Office, in partnership with Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) has produced a guide for local areas.

PROCEDURE

Any practitioner  who receives information or has concerns about domestic abuse must establish if there are any children living in the household, consult with their agency's safeguarding lead and  consider whether  advice  is needed from the Children's Front Door in regard to 'Concern about a child' Telephone number for the Children's Front Door  is 01904 551900.


The Police can often be the first point of contact with families where domestic abuse takes place.  The officer attending a reported incident of domestic abuse will identify whether a child was present when the incident occurred, or whether a child is ordinarily resident at the address where it occurred. They should see any child present in the house to assess their immediate safety.

Domestic abuse is likely to have a damaging effect on the health and development of children, and it will often be appropriate for these children to be regarded as children in need.

Normally one serious or several lesser incidents of domestic violence where there is a child in the household would indicate that Children’s Social Care may need to be informed to consider carrying out  out a single assessment of the child and the family.

Any response by any agency to an incidence of domestic abuse should be discreet in terms of making contact with victims. Standard letters should not be sent as this could further endanger the victim or their children.

Refuge addresses should not be disclosed by any agency and the P.O Box number should be used in all correspondence.

Refuge telephone numbers can be given to victims to domestic abuse.

There is a recognition that children may suffer from witnessing or hearing the ill  treatment of another in circumstances of domestic abuse. There is a need to balance the information and use your professional judgement as to whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm an the need for enquiry to Children’s Social Care.

The following advice is intended to help with this decision:

A referral must always be made to the Children’s Social Care  in the following circumstances:

  • A child was injured
  • A child or children present are subject to a Child Protection Plan (in which case the key worker or their manager should be informed immediately)
  • A child was involved in the assault, for example used as a physical barrier or tried to intervene
  • The woman who was assaulted is pregnant
  • A child’s behaviour is affected as a result of seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another.

A referral to Children’s Social Care should be considered in the following situations:

  • A child was left unattended as a result of domestic abuse
  • A child has seen or heard the ill treatment of another
  • There is previous information relating to domestic abuse or child welfare concerns

If you are unsure as to whether a referral should be made to Children’s Social Care you must consult with your agency lead for child protection and/or contact the Children's Front Door (tel.01904 551900).