Toggle Contrast

Domestic & Sexual Violence

Safeguarding Children Abused through Domestic and Sexual Violence

The Government definition of Domestic Violence (DV) widened in Sept 2012 to include 16-17 year olds and the title of the definition to Domestic Violence and Abuse.

The Government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
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
  • 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.

The Government definition, 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.

For more information, please read the Information for Local Areas on the change to the Definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse (PDF 169KB)

There are many risks to children who live with Domestic and Sexual Violence including:

  • Direct Abuse
  • Intervening in domestic violence and suffering injury
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Hearing the ill treatment of another

This can have both short and long term impacts on emotional and physical well-being

When a professional becomes aware of domestic violence in a family, they need to respond effectively whether a child or mother disclose or not.

  1. Make an immediate decision where a child or mother need treatment from emergency services or protection
  2. Consult with your agencies nominated safeguarding children lead to assess the child/ren’s risk
  3. In consultation with your safeguarding lead and your line manager, decide what action to take to support the child/ren and mother
  4. If there is a child under 12 months (including unborn child) in the family (even if the child was not present) you need to make an automatic referral to Children’s Services
  5. The level of risk will increase if there are children under the age of seven in the family as they are more vulnerable and are not able to implement safety strategies
  6. The level of risk will increase if there is a child or mother with special needs as the child, mother or other children in the family may not be able to implement safety strategies
  7. If the mother is a vulnerable adult refer to the Safeguarding Adults Team
  8. Record the information and the source of the information

This scheme was introduced in March 2014 to enable members of the public to make enquiries into an individuals criminal record if there is a justifiable concern that an individual may have a history of abusive behaviour towards a partner. The applicant may be the partner of the person in question, or it may be a third party e.g. a close relative or friend.

For more information please see here.

Harrow Children Services Golden Number 020 8901 2690
Harrow Safeguarding Adults Service 020 8420 9453
National 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 200 0247
Harrow Victims Support (IDVA) 020 8863 9583
Harrow Womens Aid Refuge 020 8357 0126
Harrow Police Community Safety Team 020 8733 3462
WISH Counselling & Support for YP 020 8416 7277
Violence Against Women & Girls Policy Lead 020 8420 9695
Childline 0800 1111

Changes to Legal Aid

The Ministry of Justice has published guidance to the public on the evidence required for legal aid applications in family law cases. The guidance has been produced as a result of the new provisions contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which came into force on Monday 1 April.

Victims of domestic abuse will continue to be eligible for legal aid for private family law cases. These are cases involving child contact, residence issues, or financial matters, following divorce/separation. However, in order for a victim to access this type of legal aid, they will need to provide a prescribed form of evidence of domestic abuse.

Find out more:

The NSPCC have shared experienced learnt from the the evaluation of the Caring Dads: Safer Children programme. Follow the links below to discover 6 tips for engaging with fathers with a history of domestic abuse;

The Sanctuary Scheme this scheme enables victims of domestic violence to secure their homes against further potential threats of violence through the use of locks, alarms etc, where the victim no longer lives with the perpetrator. For more information please see here.