Domestic Abuse

All forms of domestic violence and abuse – psychological, economic, emotional and physical – come from the abuser’s desire for power and control over other family members or intimate partners. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors involved.   Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and abuse and it happens in all communities to people from all backgrounds.  The effects of domestic violence and abuse on survivors/victims include the direct effects on them and their relationships with other people, particularly their children.

How does it affect children?

  • Domestic violence may teach children to use violence
  • Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways
  • Where there is domestic violence there is often child abuse
  • Children will often blame themselves for domestic violence
  • Alcohol misuse is very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families
  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic violence
  • Children, who witness, intervene or hear incidents are affected in many ways. What can be guaranteed is that children do hear, they do see and they are aware of abuse in the family. Children will learn how to behave from examples parents set for them. Domestic violence teaches children negative things about relationships and how to deal with people. For instance:
  • It can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict
  • They learn how to keep secrets.
  • They learn to mistrust those close to them and that children are responsible and to blame for violence, especially if violence erupts after an argument about the children.

Many people find it difficult to understand why people remain in or return to abusive violent situations. A combination of fear, love, the risk of homelessness and financial issues can make it very difficult for partners with children to leave and some may not want to.

In September 2012, it was announced that the Government definition of domestic violence would be widened to include those aged 16-17 and wording changed to reflect coercive control. The decision follows a Government consultation which saw respondents call overwhelmingly for this change. The title of the definition will change to ‘domestic violence and abuse’ and is defined by Government as:

‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional.

‘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.’

Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

The MARAC is a meeting held to discuss high-risk cases of domestic violence. It brings together representatives from several statutory and voluntary agencies to share information and put measures in place to increase the safety, health and wellbeing of domestic violence victims and their children.

At the heart of a MARAC is the working assumption that no single agency or individual can see the complete picture of the life of a victim, but all may have insights that are crucial to their safety. The Perpetrator of abuse should not be informed of the MARAC Referral.

The MARAC is not an agency and does not have a case management function. When referring to the MARAC staff should continue to work with the survivor to reduce risk and make appropriate safeguarding referrals.

Hounslow provides half day training, through the HCSP, as well as single agency training, to all professionals that may encounter domestic abuse in their line of work. For more information about making a referral or accessing training you can contact Community Safety on community.safety@hounslow.gov.uk.

Home Office Guidance

The Home Office in partnership with AVA has created guidance entitled ‘Information for Local Areas on the change to the Definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse’.

Home Office Information includes:

  • Teenage Relationship Abuse
  • How to respond to cases
  • Services
  • Young People using Violence and Abuse in Close Relationships
  • Child to Parent Violence
  • Harmful Traditional Practices, and Useful Resources and Links.