Safeguarding Children Where There is Domestic Abuse

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Domestic Violence – What is it

The Impact on Children

Research Findings

Assessment of Risk

Legislation and Guidance

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognise the needs of children living with domestic violence including their protection needs and the impact on their well-being and development
  • Consider the effect of partner violence on the parenting capacity of both parents
  • Develop skills for effective inter-agency assessments, clarify inter-agency roles and responsibilities and appreciate where inter-agency action and intervention is required to keep children safe
  • Acquire knowledge of how children and adults experiencing Domestic Violence can access support and services

Definitions of Domestic Violence

Women’s Aid

  • Domestic violence is physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.
  • Crime statistics and research both show that domestic violence is gender specific.
  • Usually the perpetrator of a pattern of repeated assaults is a man.
  • Women experience the most serious physical and repeated assaults.
  • Any women can experience domestic violence regardless of race, ethnic or religious group, class, sexuality, disability or lifestyle.
  • Domestic violence destroys both women’s and children’s lives.


Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological,physical,sexual, financial or emotional) between adults aged 18 and above who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender and sexuality.

Domestic Violence occurs across society, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth and geography. However, it is predominantly women who suffer as a result of it.

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 The Impact on Children Living with Domestic ViolenceDomestic violence

 Survival Strategies of Children

  • Mental Blocking or Disconnecting Emotionally
  • Making it Better through Fantasy
  • Physical Avoidance
  • Looking for Love and Acceptance in all the Wrong Places
  • Taking Charge through Caretaking
  • Reaching out for Help
  • Crying out for Help
  • Re-Directing Emotions into Positive Activities
  • Trying to Predict, Explain, Prevent or Control the Behaviour of an Abuser

The Children Act 1989

Defines Children in Need as either in need of support and services under Section 17 or in need of protection under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

The Children Act 2004

Sets out measures to ensure all agencies have regard to the need to “safeguard” and promote the welfare of children through duties on key agencies to work together to improve children’s well being.

Assessment where there is Domestic Violence

Essential elements:

The Perpetrator

The Mother

The Mother – Perpetrator relationship

The Child

The Mother – Child relationship

The Child – Perpetrator relationship

The Siblings

The Extended Family/Community

The Assessment Frame Work Triangletriangle

  • Based on an inter agency model
  • All agencies are assessors & providers of services
  • CSC have the lead role for ensuring initial & core assessments are carried out
  • Provides a common understanding/language within which specialist assessment tools can be used


Establish whether the parent who is experiencing Domestic Violence

  • Acknowledges the abuse/threats used/level of minimisation of abuse
  • Sees the violence escalating
  • Recognises the impact of the abuse on her
  • Recognises the impact of the abuse on each children
  • Has help seeking and survival strategies already employed
  • Is misusing drugs/alcohol
  • Has mental health problems/personality disorder
  • Has medical/health problems requiring treatment
  • Has access to appropriate support and coping strategies
  • Is responsive to intervention/support
  • Will provide details about the frequency/intensity/duration/forms of abuse
  • Has made any previous attempts to leave
  • Has taken any action to minimise impact on children – positive and negative
  • Has the capacity to protect children


Establish whether the parent who is the Domestic Violence Perpetrator has:

  • History of abusive behaviour?
  • Willingness to leave/co-operate/comply?
  • Honesty/openness about abuse?
  • Awareness of impact on victims ?
  • Helpful response to intervention
  • Alcohol/drug misuse?
  • Mental health issues?
  • Acceptance of responsibility?

Other Areas of Assessment

  • The nature of the domestic violence
  • The risks to the children posed by the perpetrator
  • The risk of lethality and danger
  • The Perpetrator’s access to the woman
  • Pattern of perpetrator’s abuse
  • Perpetrator’s state of mind
  • Additional Factors that can contribute to potential for lethality
  • Perpetrator’s pattern of assault and coercion
  • Assessing pattern of the above

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