Domestic abuse is defined 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:
Domestic abuse can also include forced marriage and so-called “honour crimes”.
Controlling and coercive behaviour
Domestic abuse is often thought of as physical, such as hitting, slapping or beating, but it can also be controlling or coercive behaviour. This is important as what might look like an isolated incident of violent abuse could be taking place in a context of controlling or coercive behaviour.
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or independent 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.
We know that the first incident reported to the police or other agencies is rarely the first incident to occur; often people have been subject to violence and abuse on multiple occasions before they seek help.
Learning resources to support health and social work in situations of coercive control
A set of learning resources for social workers, safeguarding leads, and health and social care practitioners, provides information and guidance on how to recognise and respond to coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate or family relationships.
Supporting the non-abusing parent in a holistic way that acknowledges the impacts of coercive control is important in achieving good outcomes for children. Research showed that children also experience the impacts of coercive control of a parent; for example, becoming isolated from family and friends, finding it difficult to gain independence, and feeling disempowered. The resources, which include five detailed case studies, will support practitioners to improve their understanding of the dynamics of power and control that underpin domestic abuse, enabling them to build trusting relationships with children and survivors.
The examples, tools and videos bring together evidence from research, practitioner experience, and the voice of people using services, to enable professionals to put the law into practice and improve support for people who are experiencing coercive control.
The Chief Social Worker’s Office at the Department of Health commissioned the materials, which were developed by Research in Practice for Adults and Women’s Aid. http://coercivecontrol.ripfa.org.uk/
Safeguarding children exposed to domestic abuse
Children who live in families where there is domestic abuse can suffer serious long-term emotional and psychological effects. Even if they are not physically harmed or do not witness acts of violence, they can pick up on the tensions and harmful interactions between adults. Children of any age are affected by domestic violence and abuse. At no age will they be unaffected by what is happening, even when they are in the womb.
The physical, psychological and emotional effects of domestic violence on children can be severe and long-lasting. Some children may become withdrawn and find it difficult to communicate. Others may act out the aggression they have witnessed, or blame themselves for the abuse. All children living with abuse are under stress.
- Consider the presence of domestic abuse as an indicator of the need to assess a child’s need for support and protection
Safe Lives, a national domestic abuse charity, has created a toolkit practitioners and front-line workers can use to identify high risk cases of domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’-based violence. The purpose of the checklist is to give a consistent and simple-to-use tool to practitioners who work with victims of domestic abuse in order to help them identify those who are at high risk of harm and whose cases should be referred to a MARAC meeting in order to manage the risk.
The toolkit has been endorsed by agencies such as the police (Association of Chief Police Officers), National Centre for Domestic Violence, and CAFCASS, who believe that the primary audience should be front line practitioners working with victims of domestic abuse who are represented at MARAC. This will include both domestic abuse specialists such as IDVAs and generic practitioners such as those working in a primary care health service or housing.
Locally, both the Adult’s Safeguarding Board and Children’s Safeguarding Partnership (LSAB / LSCP), as well as the Safer Lewisham Partnership (SLP) have agreed that all agencies in Lewisham working with, or supporting families at risk of domestic violence are expected to use the risk checklist. This is vitally important because using an evidence based risk identification tool increases the likelihood of the victim being responded to appropriately and therefore, of addressing the risks they face. The risk checklist gives practitioners common criteria and a common language of risk.
Safe Lives have produced an updated version of the RIC, which now includes comprehensive guidance explaining each risk question, how they can be asked, as well as practice points. There is also a frequently asked questions page with some useful tips on the checklist. The Safe Lives website has helpful resources about other ways your agency may access support, training or download the checklist in other languages. The Lewisham Safeguarding Children’s Partnership also offers training on the use of the checklist which is free for all professionals in the borough to attend, however, for more questions about the use of the RIC, access to training, and questions about domestic violence MARAC process, please visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/vawg or contact the Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG) Programme Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org
Safeguarding high-risk victims of domestic violence and abuse – referring to the MARAC
The Lewisham Domestic Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) is a risk management meeting where professionals share information on high and very high risk cases of domestic violence or abuse and put in place a risk management plan. The aim of the meeting is to address the safety of the victim, children and agency staff and to review and co-ordinate service provision in high risk domestic violence cases.
To be referred to the MARAC the individual must reside in the London Borough of Lewisham, be over the age of 16, be currently experiencing domestic violence or abuse (according to the cross Government definition of domestic violence) and be assessed as being at high or very high risk of harm of domestic violence or abuse in accordance with the Lewisham MARAC referral risk criteria. In order to assess whether a case meets the risk threshold, the Safe Lives DASH MARAC risk indicator checklist should be completed by the referring agency.
A tailored action plan will be developed at the MARAC to reduce the risk to the victim, children, other vulnerable parties and any staff and to ensure that the risk the perpetrator presents is managed appropriately. Examples of actions that will be agreed include flagging and tagging of files, referral to other appropriate multi-agency meetings, prioritising of agencies’ resources to MARAC cases.
Any service agency signed up to the MARAC Information Sharing Protocol may refer a case to the MARAC using the Lewisham MARAC Referral Form, and all agencies should be actively screening for domestic violence or abuse. Referrals should be submitted to each agency’s MARAC representative. Please contact your line manager to find out who your agency’s MARAC representative is.
For more questions about the use of the MARAC, access to training, and questions about the process, please visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/vawg or contact the Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG) Programme Manager on email@example.com , or the MARAC Coordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information
Letter to partners on the use of the DV risk assessment
See the Domestic Violence information in our practice procedures
MOPAC VAWG Strategy 2018-2021
MOPAC Domestic and Sexual Violence Dashboard
Home Office Resources for Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG)
Galop - The LGBT Anti-Violence Charity
Services Available to Lewisham Residents
Refuge, The Athena Service
The Athena service, run by Refuge provides confidential, non-judgmental support to those living in the London Borough of Lewisham who are experiencing gender-based violence. It opened its doors in April 2015 and provides outreach programmes, independent advocacy, group support, refuge accommodation and a specialist service for young women.
It provides the following services, all under one roof:
- One-to-one confidential, non-judgmental, independent support
- A specialist independent gender-based violence advocacy (IGVA) team to support clients at risk of serious harm
- A specialist service for 13-19 year-old girls
- Group support
- A peer support scheme to help break isolation; build social networks and provide support clients regain control of their lives
- Volunteering opportunities
Telephone: Athena Service on 0800 112 4052
African Advocacy Foundation
A community-led organisation working to promote better access to health, education and other opportunities for disadvantaged communities in the UK, Europe and parts of Africa.
African Advocacy provide practical support, policy work, advocacy, information, guidance and training to professionals and community members alike. African advocacy work to empower individuals and families experiencing multiple disadvantages and barriers including ill health, poverty, deprivation, violence, isolation and those relating to language, culture, faith and other social issues.
CATFORD (MAIN) OFFICES:
76 Elmer Road, Catford, London SE6 2ER
0208 698 4473
The purpose is to equip girls and young women with the right support, skills and confidence to make informed choices about their future; improve their educational, social and economic outcomes whilst taking control of their lives.
The Albany, Deptford, SE8 4AQ
0203 372 5779
Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)
LAWRS has a zero tolerance policy of any form of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG). Our team offers advice, advocacy and practical support to Latin American women who are experiencing or have experienced Domestic Violence, Harmful practices or any other form of violence.
Tindlemanor, 52-54 Featherstone Street.
London, EC1Y 8RT
020 7336 0888, 084 4264 0682
IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation
IKWRO are committed to providing non-judgmental support to women who speak Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Dari, Pashtu and English.
IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation
PO Box 75229
0207 920 6460
Women and Girls Network (WGN)
WGN is a free, women-only service providing a holistic response to women and girls who have experienced, or are at risk of, gendered violence.
0808 801 0660
WE Women (Women Empowering Women)
We Women is a collaboration of women which has been delivering community support to women since March 2017. In August 2018, we women became a constituted community group.
We Women are entirely volunteer run, and our aims are to:
- Empower women to be more self-sufficient
- Improve women’s health & well-being
- Address the material impacts of poverty within the local community
Pepys Resource Centre Old Library Deptford Strand London
020 8691 3146
Early Years Alliance - Lewisham Children's and Family Centres
The Alliance is working together with Clyde Nursery School, Beecroft Garden School and Kelvin Grove/Eliot Bank and Downderry Children’s Centres to deliver a clear seamless borough wide children’s centre offer for families in the London Borough of Lewisham, working alongside health visiting, midwifery, schools and public health services.
Lewisham Children and Family Centres offer families access to a range of health, education, play, parenting, adult education, employment support and family support services right across the borough.
National Stalking Helpline – Suzy Lamplugh Trust
The National Stalking Helpline is run by Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Their mission is to reduce the risk of violence and aggression through campaigning, education and support.
Telephone: 0808 802 0300
METRO is a leading equality and diversity charity providing health, community and youth services across London and the south-east, with some national and international projects. METRO promotes health, wellbeing and equality through youth services, mental health services and sexual health and HIV services and works with anyone experiencing issues related to gender, sexuality, diversity or identity.
Location: 141 GREENWICH HIGH ROAD, GREENWICH, SE10 8JA
Telephone: 020 8305 5000
RASASC - Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre Rape Crisis South London
RASAC believe too many women have had to be silent for too long about the violence perpetrated against them.
They understand that it can be difficult to speak up, hard to find the words or to believe that anyone will listen.
RASAC will listen. They believe. They will stand up alongside you. You do not have to do this alone.
Telephone: 0808 802 9999
PO BOX 383, Croydon, CR9 2AW
Information and campaigning for LGBT rights. Got a question? A problem? Need support? Stone wall are here to help with any issues affecting LGBT people or their families. Whatever your situation, you’re not on your own. Stonewall will do what they can to help or point you in the right direction to someone who can.
Telephone: 0800 0502020
Write to Stonewall: Stonewall 192 St. John Street London EC1V 4JY
Men and women working together to end domestic violence
Telephone: 0808 802 4040
Address: The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
The Deaf Health Charity – Sign Health
Rights of women
Respect Helpline for men
Women's Aid live chat
This is an online chatting service which is ideal for victims who are self-isolating and do not want to be heard.
0117 944 44 11
NSPCC Helpline - 0800 028 3550 or email@example.com
GALOP National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline
0800 999 5428