What is the  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

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".

The definition of domestic violence and abuse, which is not  a legal definition, includes so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and Forced Marriage and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

 

LOCAL PROTOCOLS AND PROCESSES

To help organisations and individual members of staff understand how they are expected to work together to support people experiencing domestic abuse and the pathways and processes involved, Safer Wolverhampton partnership have agreed an Overarching Domestic Violence and Abuse Protocols and Guidance document.

Click here for the Wolverhampton Overarching Domestic Violence and Abuse Protocol and Guidance document

To help identify people who may require support around domestic violence and abuse, it has been agreed that the Safe Lives Dash Risk Assessment will routinely be used by all organisations and their staff

Click here for the Safe Lives Dash Risk Assessment Checklist

 

HOW COMMON IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE?

Domestic abuse is very common and affects one in four women in their lifetime. Although most victims of domestic abuse are women and most abusers are men, domestic abuse can affect anyone.

Key Statistics

  • Seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales (ONS (2015), Crime Survey England and Wales 2013-2014. London: Office For National Statistics).
  • Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime (Home Office, July 2002)
  • On average the police receive an emergency call relating to domestic abuse every 30 seconds (HMIC, Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse (Published online: HMIC, 2014), p. 5.)

Whilst statistics are useful, they do not always provide us with the full picture. It is important to remember domestic violence and abuse is an hidden crime, that happens behind closed doors and victims are not always able to come forward and disclose what is happening to them.

 

HOW WILL I KNOW IF SOMEONE IS A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE?

Many victims feel unable to come forward and talk about their experience. There are many barriers to seeking help arising from the emotional, practical or social impact of domestic violence and abuse. They may include:

  • Feeling ashamed
  • Afraid their abuser will find out
  • Afraid they wont be believed
  • Loyalty
  • Concerns that their children will be taken away
  • Impairment
  • Lack of knowledge/access to support services/resources/financial or otherwise
  • Religious or cultural expectations
  • Not being asked

Therefore regular screening protocols to identify domestic violence and abuse issues are essential, some example questions are as follows:

  • "As abuse in the home is so common we now ask our clients about it routinely. Does a partner, or anyone at home, hurt, hit or threaten you?"
  • Does your partner/family ever stop you from doing the things you want to do?

 

HOW CAN I SUPPORT A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE?

  • Listen, tell them you believe them and they are not to blame
  • Empathise and don't judge or blame the person for what happened
  • Provide a private, quiet space (where you will not be interrupted or overheard)
  • See the victim on their own, without the partner, children, carer or relatives
  • Use professional interpreters when required, NOT a friend, relative or someone form the local community
  • Do not offer mediation, joint counselling or family conferences as a option
  • Emphasise confidentiality but explain its limits eg if children are at risk or victim is at high risk of harm
  • Establish if there is any  immediate risk, if so consider contacting emergency resources such as Police or Refuge accommodation. Ask is it safe to go home? What threats have been made? What are you afraid might happen?
  • Keep accurate records of decisions and actions.
  • Risk assess and signpost victims to appropriate specialist services. 

 

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