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2.2.7 Safeguarding Children at Risk because of Domestic Abuse

RELATED DOCUMENT

South Yorkshire DASH Risk Assessment

RELATED CHAPTERS

Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children

Safeguarding Girls and Young Women at Risk of Abuse through Female Genital Mutilation

Safeguarding Children and Young People from Forced Marriage

Safeguarding Children and Young People from Honour Based Violence

RELATED GUIDANCE

Information for Local Areas on the change to the Definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse March 2013 (Home Office)

Three steps to escaping domestic violence

Home Office developed with Southall Black Sisters at women in black and minority ethnic communities: Safe Lives

Domestic Violence Disclosure: guidance and other documents

Health Visiting and School Nursing Programmes: supporting implementation of the new service model No.5: Domestic Violence and Abuse – Professional Guidance

Statutory guidance framework: controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship

Royal College of Nursing – Domestic Abuse: Professional Resources

There is more information about Domestic Abuse at the end of the chapter.

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR LOCAL SERVICE – Rotherham Rise

For local information and referral contact Rotherham RISE on 0330 2020 571*.

  • Opt 1 Domestic Abuse Helpline (advice for women / professionals / referrals);
  • Opt 2 Outreach (Outreach support services: Domestic Abuse Service, BME Domestic Abuse Service, Young People Domestic Abuse Service, Project Survive: Post CSE Support);
  • Opt 3 Finance / Admin;
  • Opt 4 General Enquiries.

Refuge 0870 850 2247

Counselling 01709 912 420

See referral form for all Outreach services.

For up to date information please visit Rotherham Rise.

Rotherham Rise e-mail address: Enquiries@rotherhamrise.org.uk

outreach.rwr@rothwr.cjsm.net (For services CJSM compatible)

*Charges may apply when calling Rotherham Rise promoted telephone numbers, check with your telecom provider for further information.

National Contacts

Domestic Abuse National Organisation Information

For more details of the national plans to tackle domestic violence and abuse see: Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016 – 2020 March 2016 (GOV.UK). This is intended to set out a life course approach to ensure that all victims – and their families - have access to the right support at the right time to help them live free from violence and abuse.

AMENDMENT

In June 2017, a link was added to Royal College of Nursing – Domestic Abuse: Professional Resources in the Related Guidance section.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Impact
  3. What are the Characteristics of Victims that Mean they are More Likely to be Abused?
  4. Recognition and Response
  5. MARAC
  6. Role of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs)
  7. Young People at Risk of Domestic Abuse
  8. Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse
  9. Children Moving into Refuges
  10. Children Moving Out of Refuges
  11. Domestic Violence Victims without Indefinite Leave to Remain
  12. Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)
  13. Research about Domestic Abuse


1. Introduction

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

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;
  • Stalking;
  • Harassment.

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 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.

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

For more information see – Definition of domestic violence and abuse: guide for local areas.

What are the characteristics of coercive control?

This is taken from Safe Lives, Coercive Control.

The Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships. Controlling or coercive behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of behaviour which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another. Such behaviours might include:

  • Isolating a person from their friends and family;
  • Depriving them of their basic needs;
  • Monitoring their time;
  • Monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware;
  • Taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep;
  • Depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services;
  • Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless;
  • Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim;
  • Forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities;
  • Financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance;
  • Threats to hurt or kill;
  • Threats to a child;
  • Threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to ‘out’ someone);
  • Assault;
  • Criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods);
  • Rape;
  • Preventing a person from having access to transport or from working.


2. Impact

The harm to children caused by domestic violence and abuse can be significant - through emotional and physical abuse, and / or neglect. See Practice Guidance: Significant Harm - The Impact of Abuse and Neglect.

The impact of domestic violence is usually on every aspect of a child’s life, although it will vary according to the child’s resilience and the strengths and weaknesses of his / her particular circumstances.

In almost a third of cases, domestic violence begins or escalates during pregnancy and it is associated with increased rates of miscarriage, premature birth, foetal injury and foetal death. The mother may be prevented from seeking or receiving proper ante-natal or post-natal care. In addition, if the mother is being abused this can affect her attachment to her child, more so if the pregnancy is a result of rape by her partner.

The three central imperatives of any intervention for children living with domestic violence are:

  • To protect the child/ren, including unborn child/ren;
  • To empower the mother (or non-abusing parent / carer) to protect themselves and their child/ren;
  • To hold the abusive partner accountable for their violence and provide them with opportunities to change.


3. What are the Characteristics of Victims that Mean they are More Likely to be Abused?

This information is from Safe Lives – who are the victims of domestic abuse?

  • Gender: Women are much more likely than men to be the victims of high risk or severe domestic abuse: 95% of those going to MARAC or accessing an IDVA service are women;
  • Low income: women in households with an income of less than £10,000 were 3.5 times more at risk than those in households with an income of over £20,000;
  • Age: Younger people are more likely to be subject to interpersonal violence. The majority of high risk victims are in their 20s or 30s. Those under 25 are the most likely to suffer interpersonal violence;
  • Pregnancy: Nearly one in three women who suffer from domestic abuse during their lifetime report that the first incidence of violence happened while they were pregnant;
  • Separation: Domestic violence is higher amongst those who have separated, followed by those who are divorced or single;
  • Previous criminality of the perpetrator: domestic abuse is more likely where the perpetrator has a previous conviction (whether or not it is related to domestic abuse);
  • Drug and alcohol abuse: Victims of abuse have a higher rate of drug and/or alcohol misuse (whether it starts before or after the abuse): at least 20% of high-risk victims of abuse report using drugs and/or alcohol;
  • Mental health issues: 40% of high-risk victims of abuse report mental health difficulties.

Children and domestic abuse

  • 140,000 children live in households where there is high-risk domestic abuse;
  • 64% of high and medium risk victims have children, on average 2 each;
  • A quarter (25%) of children in high-risk domestic abuse households are under 3 years old. On average, high-risk abuse has been going on for 2.6 years, meaning these children are living with abuse for most of their life;
  • 62% of children living in domestic abuse households are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse, in addition to the harm caused by witnessing the abuse of others;
  • Babies under 12 months old are particularly vulnerable to violence. Where there is domestic violence in families with a child under 12 months old (including an unborn child), even if the child was not present, any single incident of domestic abuse must prompt a high level response and Professionals should make a referral to Children’s Social Care, in line with the Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure.


4. Recognition and Response

Professionals in all agencies should take all disclosures seriously, and the impact of the domestic violence and abuse on the non-abusing parent/carer and their child/ren should be clearly explained.

Professionals should record fully all disclosures, details of injuries, photographic evidence, abuse history etc in case it is needed as evidence for court at a later date.

For information about working with parents/ carers for practitioners who don’t work in domestic abuse services – see Safe Lives 2015 - Getting it right first time A quick guide for professionals who don’t work in domestic violence services. Police are often the first point of contact and they should ensure the safety of the victim, find out whether there are children living in the household and assess their immediate safety, establish whether children are subject to a Child Protection Plan and should provide the victim with information on local support services. The South Yorkshire Police (SYP) should always notify Children’s Social Care of any incident of domestic abuse where the complainant has dependent children. SYP should make a referral to Children’s Social Care following an incident, when they have specific child protection concerns about the safety or welfare of any children involved.

All Practitioners should assess the risk of harm to the parent /carer and their child/ren. Their risk assessment should inform a decision to make a referral to Children’s Social Care for assessment. See Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure.

The following is taken from Safe Lives:

See Safe Lives 2015 - Getting it right first time A quick guide for professionals who don’t work in domestic violence services.

Step 1: Identify who is most at risk

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. Women are more likely to be victims, but men can also be the target of domestic abuse. Children can also be victims of domestic abuse – whether they live in a home with adult victims or are themselves harmed directly.

Things to look out for that may indicate domestic abuse:

  • Injuries without explanation (normally people will volunteer an explanation);
  • Injuries which are minimised or concealed;
  • A person who is unwilling to allow the other person to be alone with professionals;
  • A person who appears passive and dominated by their partner;
  • Anxiety, depression and being withdrawn, particularly if this is not usual for the person.

Step 2: Ask and find out more

If you have concerns, always try to find out more from the person. Make sure the person you are concerned about is on their own, without children, partner or other family members present. And if you are talking through an interpreter, make sure they are independent of the family.

Ways to start the conversation:

  • Are you happy?
  • How are things in your relationship?
  • Is anybody hurting you? (Don’t refer to ‘partner’ as it could be someone else);
  • Are you or your children scared or upset?
  • Do you feel safe at home? Don’t be tempted to ask too much or feel that you have to ask everything at once as this might be overwhelming. Be prepared for the answers and don’t express shock or disgust. Treat people with respect even if you think they are putting themselves at risk or denying that abuse is happening.

Step 3: Act

Based on what you have seen and heard, make a judgment about what you should do next. Think about whether the abuse is current, how urgent the situation is, and whether there are children involved.

If the situation is urgent – for example there are injuries or a risk of immediate harm – call the Police on 999.

If the children are at risk, call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01709 366 080 or the Police on 101 and make a referral using the Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure.

The MASH social worker will screen and assess every domestic abuse notification. A daily (Monday to Friday) Multi Agency Domestic Abuse (MADA) meeting will take place. The purpose of the MADA is to share information amongst multi-agency partners regarding high risk cases received within the previous 24 hours and agree next steps. A safety / protection plan is put in place which is reviewed at the next MARAC meeting.

If when you complete the DASH Assessment the outcome is Medium Risk, please refer to Rotherham RISE.

If you require further advice please contact Rotherham Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs).


5. MARAC

If the situation is serious and the victim is at imminent risk, the practitioner should also complete a DASH Risk Assessment. This will tell you how much danger a victim is in.

If they are at high-risk, refer them to Rotherham Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) and send the DASH risk assessment to MARAC immediately.

If you use an @rotherham.gov.uk email address this is already secure to IDVAs if you send to rotherham.idvas@rotherham.gov.uk.

If you don’t access an @rotherham.gov.uk email address, you need to send all confidential information from a secure email address to the following secure email addresses:

Rotherham has a multi-agency forum called Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) that considers individual cases which are at the highest level of risk. This forum should be used when at high risk of homicide or serious harm to the adult is identified. The MARAC considers what measures are in place and what measures are required to protect the safety of the adult. See MARAC Operating Protocol (February 2013).

The role of MARAC coordinators and administrators is to:

  • Help to establish communication between all parties;
  • Give information to partner agencies about the MARAC process, where appropriate;
  • Work with the chair to identify agency gaps;
  • Establish links with these agencies to enable them to take part in the MARAC.

MARAC will make sure that the victim gets the support they need to get safe. Every victim discussed at MARAC will get 1-2-1 support from an IDVA, a trained domestic abuse specialist. Any professional can refer a high-risk case of domestic abuse to MARAC. You do not need to get your client’s consent to refer to MARAC if they are at high risk, although you should seek it. The South Yorkshire DASH Risk Assessment is used by South Yorkshire Police Force and most other agencies across the UK.


6. Role of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs)

IDVAs help keep victims and their children safe from harm from violent partners or family.

Serving as a victim’s primary point of contact, IDVAs normally work with their clients from the point of crisis, to assess the level of risk. They:

  • Discuss the range of suitable options;
  • Develop plans for immediate safety – including practical steps for victims to protect themselves and their children;
  • Develop plans for longer-term safety;
  • Represent their clients at the MARAC;
  • Support and advice in apply sanctions and remedies available through the criminal and civil courts, including housing options.

These plans address immediate safety, including practical steps for victims to protect themselves and their children, as well as longer-term solutions.

For more information see Safe Lives 2015 Resources for identifying the risk victims face.

Professionals and their managers must consider staff safety when visiting the family home and any other settings where domestic abuse has been identified as an issue. For more information see Reluctant and Hostile Families Procedure.


7. Young People at Risk of Domestic Abuse

For more information see Controlling Behaviour in Relationships: Talking to young people about healthy relationships.

The definition of domestic abuse has been changed to include young people aged 16 to 17 years. Professionals who come into contact with young people (teachers, school nurses, sexual health professionals, GP's etc.) should be aware of the possibility that the young person could be experiencing violence within their relationship.

Engagement

Young people engage with services in a different way to adults and IDVAs will need to adapt their working practices to retain meaningful contact with them. Young people may have fluid relationships and specific preferences for communicating – e.g. texting - as well as different priorities to adult clients. A flexible working approach will be required to create engagement with this client group.

Practice pointers

Do:

  • Draw on a variety of different techniques that improve engagement;
  • Be prepared to spend time exploring what abuse is. The young people you work with may not identify their own experiences as abuse;
  • Validate the seriousness of young people’s relationships;
  • Target your service at young people: for example, use relevant leaflets for referrals and signposting;
  • Communicate with a young person on their terms; be comfortable using their terminology and language when necessary;
  • Offer face-to-face and new technologies communication, rather than telephone contact alone;
  • Be flexible on appointment length: be led by the client’s wishes and consider sending reminders for meetings to improve engagement.

Don’t:

  • Assume that the experience of abuse is less harmful if it is perpetrated or experienced by a young person;
  • Try and be ‘cool’: young people need genuine, professional support rather than a friend.

Risk

Use the Safe Lives-DASH Risk Identification Checklist with 16 and 17 year olds. This will address the evidence-based risk factors associated with domestic abuse and it will provide a useful starting point to understand the risks faced by a client. As with all risk assessment, a practitioner’s professional judgement is crucial. Listen to the young person carefully and explore their situation with them. Consider any additional vulnerabilities, the context for the abuse and the extent to which they may be minimising their experience to gain a fuller picture of the risks faced by your young client. The points below should also be explored carefully.

From the Safe Lives-DASH Risk Identification Checklist with 16 and 17 year olds.

Escalation: Abuse in young people’s relationships typically escalates more quickly than adults’ and IDVAs should explore this carefully even when other risk factors are not present.

Pregnancy: Abuse and violence is disproportionately experienced by young pregnant women and mothers.

Separation: Post-separation abuse can occur, even when the relationship itself is relatively short.

Stalking and harassment: Stalking by young people tends to be significantly more violent than that carried out by adults and ¾ of stalking victims are targeted online.

For more information see:


8. Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse

The Home Office has worked with third sector partners, academics and other government departments to develop and disseminate information for practitioners working with children and families on how to identify and address the risks posed by adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA).

APVA is a hidden form of domestic violence and abuse that is often not spoken about. It is hoped that by raising awareness around this issue, we can provide better protection to victims and apply an appropriate safeguarding approach.

For more information see Information guide: adolescent to parent abuse (APVA).


9. Children Moving into Refuges

If the refuge staff immediately or subsequently have concerns about the care provided for the child/ren then a referral must be made - see Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure.

Children who are placed at the refuge in Rotherham from another area are subject to the same procedures as children from Rotherham. If there are safeguarding concerns about a child a Referral should be made.

If a child moves into a refuge from another area and is subject to a Child Protection Plan, contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to ensure that Rotherham Children’s Social Care has been informed of the family. For more information see Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure,Transfer of Cases to Rotherham where the Child/Young Person is the Subject of a Child Protection Plan from Another Local Authority.


10. Children Moving Out of Refuges

When a child who has a Child Protection Plan leaves the refuge, staff should inform their Lead Social Worker immediately, whether this move is within or outside the local authority area.

When children not subject to a Child Protection Plan leave the refuge to return to a household where it is known they have been exposed to violence and/or during the stay a referral has been made due to concerns about neglect, abuse or poor parenting, the relevant social work team must be informed of where to and when the family are moving or contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01709 336 080 to make a referral – Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure.

If the family move to another refuge, liaison needs to take place with the refuge and a referral to Children’s Social Care Services in that Local Authority must be considered. For more information see Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure, Transfer of Cases to Another Local Authority where the Child/Young Person is the Subject of a Child Protection Plan and Rotherham is the Responsible Authority.


11. Domestic Violence Victims without Indefinite Leave to Remain

If the relationship with a British citizen or someone settled in the UK has broken down because of domestic violence, a person may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permission to stay in the UK permanently).

The ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy is a general rule for most people who apply to come to the UK. The policy is based on the principle that people without a permanent right to remain in the UK should not have the same access to benefits as British citizens.

The UK immigration policy is clear that migrants coming to the UK should be able to provide for themselves financially without relying on benefits from the state. However, the government is aware of the difficulties victims of domestic violence face, in particular those who can’t access public funds.

Because of this, the government provides help to these victims who have been admitted to the UK with leave as spouses, unmarried partners or civil partners of a British citizen, or of a non-citizen who is settled in the UK. This allows domestic violence victims to apply for indefinite leave to remain in their own right, if they have been victims of domestic violence.

For more information see Apply to settle in the UK (GOV.UK website).

The Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships. Controlling or coercive behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of behaviour which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another. Such behaviours might include:

  • Isolating a person from their friends and family;
  • Depriving them of their basic needs;
  • Monitoring their time;
  • Monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware;
  • Taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep;
  • Depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services;
  • Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless;
  • Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim;
  • Forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities;
  • Financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance;
  • Threats to hurt or kill;
  • Threats to a child;
  • Threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to ‘out’ someone).
  • Assault;
  • Criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods);
  • Rape;
  • Preventing a person from having access to transport or from working.


12. Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) were implemented across England and Wales from 8 March 2014.

They provide protection to victims by enabling the police and magistrates to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident.

With DVPOs, a perpetrator can be banned with immediate effect from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need.

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) (also known as ‘Clare’s Law’) commenced in England and Wales in March 2014. The DVDS gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner. This scheme adds a further dimension to the information sharing about children where there are concerns that domestic violence and abuse is impacting on the care and welfare of the children in the family.

Members of the public can make an application for a disclosure, known as the ‘right to ask’. Anybody can make an enquiry, but information will only be given to someone at risk or a person in a position to safeguard the victim. The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of gender.

Partner agencies can also request disclosure is made of an offender’s past history where it is believed someone is at risk of harm. This is known as ‘right to know’.

If a potentially violent individual is identified as having convictions for violent offences, or information is held about their behaviour which reasonably leads the police and other agencies to believe they pose a risk of harm to their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.

For further information, see Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (GOV.UK).


13. Research about Domestic Abuse

In plain sight: Effective help for children exposed to domestic abuse CAADA’s February 2014 2nd National Policy Report

Young people and interpersonal violence: final data report from the young people's programme January 2014 - March 2015

Young people with mental health issues Research briefing for professionals working with young people

A Call to End Violence against Women and Girls Progress Report 2010 – 15

Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships - Incidence and impact of partner abuse in young people (NSPCC, University of Bristol, 2009)

Getting it right first time A quick guide for professionals who don’t work in domestic violence services. Safe Lives 2015.

End