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1.1.12 Domestic Abuse Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This is Lincolnshire County Council’s Domestic Abuse Policy. Victims of Domestic Abuse can often be helped to get the support and protection they need through early identification and intervention by professionals, and Lincolnshire County Council is committed to this process.

This Domestic Abuse policy is for use by all professionals (the term includes unqualified managers, staff and volunteers) who have contact with children and with adults who are parents / carers, and who therefore have responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. The policy is designed to complement existing protocols and procedures.

This policy is in two sections. Section One provides practitioners with research and guidance and Section Two details the process and expectations of practitioners when dealing with Domestic Abuse.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Ending Violence against Women and Girls: Strategy 2016 - 2020 (HM Govt, March 2016)

Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board, Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Protocol - Resource Pack for Practitioners

Multi Agency Domestic Abuse Protocol

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

Please see also Domestic Abuse Guidance for Employees and Managers

Please see also Domestic Abuse Policy for Education

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Lincolnshire Children’s Services and Police Protocol on Managing Domestic Abuse Notifications and Referrals Procedure

Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Protocol - Resource pack for Practitioners Procedure

AMENDMENT

A link to the latest Schools and Education settings Resource Pack was included in April 2017, which includes a Domestic Abuse Policy Template that Schools can use for their own setting (see Relevant Guidance above).


Contents

Section One
1. Introduction
2. Definition
3. Families with Additional Vulnerabilities
4. The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Children and Young People
5. The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Unborn Children
6. The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Mothers and their Ability to Parent
7. The Abusive Partners Ability to Parent
8. Substance Misuse and Mental ill Health
9. Barriers to Disclosure
10. Enabling Disclosure
11. Additional Considerations where a Parent is Fleeing from Domestic Abuse

 
Section Two
12. Lincolnshire Children's Services to Domestic Abuse Notifications
13. Assessment Process
14. Safety Planning
15. Abusive Partners/children
16. Staff Safety
17. Staff Training
18. Potential Exclusion Interventions
19. MARACS
20. Domestic Abuse Guidance for Employees and Managers
21. Support Services in Lincolnshire
  Appendix 1: Communicating with a child
  Appendix 2: Clarification Questions for a Child
  Appendix 3: Clarification Questions for a Mother
  Appendix 4: Safety Planning with Women
  Appendix 5: Safety Planning with Children and Young People
  Appendix 6: Working with Abusive Partners
  Appendix 7: Risk Management with Abusive Partners
  Appendix 8: Assessing the Risk of Harm to a Child
  Appendix 9: Legal Interventions
  Appendix 10: DV Disclosure Scheme and DV Protection Notices/Orders
  Appendix 11: Key facts about Domestic Abuse


Section One


1. Introduction

This is Lincolnshire County Council’s Domestic Abuse Policy. Victims of Domestic Abuse can often be helped to get the support and protection they need through early identification and intervention by professionals, and Lincolnshire County Council is committed to this process.

This Domestic Abuse policy is for use by all professionals (the term includes unqualified managers, staff and volunteers) who have contact with children and with adults who are parents / carers, and who therefore have responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the This policy is in two parts. Part One provides practitioners with research and guidance and Part Two details the process and expectations of practitioners when dealing with Domestic Abuse.

This policy has referred to the victim as mother and perpetrator as the male father/partner for reference purpose only and Lincolnshire County Council acknowledges that there are both male victims and female perpetrators. Lincolnshire County Council also acknowledges that anyone can potentially be a victim/survivor of Domestic Abuse, however, overwhelming research demonstrates that the nature and extent of this social problem is a gendered issue as girls/women suffer more as a result.

Professionals should apply these procedures to all circumstances of domestic abuse. Most domestic abuse is perpetrated by men against women, and this procedure provides guidance on safeguarding the children who, through being in households / relationships, are aware of or targeted as part of the abuse. This procedure refers to the victim/survivor as female and the abuser as male as this reflects the majority of cases where there are Child Protection concerns. However, professionals should apply the guidance to all situations of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can also be perpetrated by women against men, within same sex relationships, and between any other family members.

This procedure uses the term 'mothers' to describe mothers, prospective mothers and adults with ongoing primary caring responsibilities for children.

See Appendix 11: Key facts about domestic abuse for the prevalence and profile of domestic abuse in the UK, also Please see the Domestic Abuse Website for further statistics and the national picture.


2. Definition

Domestic Abuse is a broad description of abusive relationships that develop within the home / family environment where power is exercised to the detriment of at least one party.

Responsibility for domestic abuse rests with the perpetrator and without intervention, the evidence is that it is likely to get worse.

Domestic Abuse can take place anywhere, not just in the home. Research has shown that it is rarely a one-off event. Abuse tends to happen more and more over time - each time getting more serious. Whatever the extent of the abuse, the abuse almost always leaves those suffering it to feel frightened, isolated, humiliated or ashamed.

Such situations may involve threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults / young people who live in the same household or where one lives in the household and the other is a regular visitor e.g. partners, ex-partners and family members.

Domestic Abuse may be exacerbated by other factors e.g. mental illness, substance misuse (including alcohol), homelessness and housing need, pregnancy, new birth and separation.

The Home Office (2013) defines domestic abuse as "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. The main characteristic of domestic abuse is that the behaviour is intentional and is calculated to exercise power and control within a relationship."

Examples of these behaviours are:

  • Psychological / emotional abuse – intimidation and threats (e.g. about children or family pets), social isolation, verbal abuse, humiliation, constant criticism, enforced trivial routines, marked over intrusiveness;
  • Physical violence – slapping, pushing, kicking, stabbing, damage to property or items of sentimental value, attempted murder or murder;
  • Physical restriction of freedom – controlling who the mother or child/ren see or where they go, what they wear or do, stalking, imprisonment, forced marriage;
  • Sexual violence – any non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, sexual assault, coercive sexual activity or refusing safer sex; and
  • Financial abuse – stealing, depriving or taking control of money, running up debts, withholding benefits books or bank cards.

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.”

2.1 Forced marriage and honour-based violence

Children and young people can be subjected to domestic abuse perpetrated in order to force them into marriage or to ‘punish’ him/her for ‘bringing dishonour on the family’.

Whilst honour based violence can culminate in the death of the victim, this is not always the case. The child or young person may be subjected over a long period to a variety of different abusive behaviours ranging in severity. The abuse is often carried out by several members of a family and may, therefore, increase the child’s sense of powerlessness and be harder for professionals to identify and respond to.

Definition from: Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage.

Forced marriage

A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage but are coerced into it. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. In cases of vulnerable adults who lack the capacity to consent to marriage, coercion is not required for a marriage to be forced.

Honour-based violence

The terms “honour crime” or “honour-based violence” or “izzat” embrace a variety of crimes of violence (mainly but not exclusively against women), including assault, imprisonment and murder where the person is being punished by their family or their community. They are being punished for actually, or allegedly, undermining what the family or community believes to be the correct code of behaviour.

In transgressing this correct code of behaviour, the person shows that they have not been properly controlled to conform by their family and this is to the “shame” or “dishonour” of the family. It can be distinguished from other forms of abuse, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/ community members. Victims will have multiple perpetrators not only in the UK; HBV can be a trigger for a forced marriage.

Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage.

2.2 Domestic abuse within teenage relationships

The current definition of domestic abuse applies only to victims aged 16 and older. Evidence exists that under 16s experience relationship abuse. Teenage girls are now considered to be the group at greatest risk from violent relationships. Studies indicate that at least 1 in 4 teenage girls have experienced abuse by their partners and 3 in 4 have experienced emotional abuse. The key message is that young women suffer more severe violence and abuse, which has a greater impact on their health and wellbeing. 6.2% of young men however aged 16-19 have also experienced some kind of domestic abuse in the last year.

2.3 Child Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Abuse

A person under 18 is sexually exploited if they are coerced into sexual activities by one or more persons who have deliberately targeted them due to their youth, gender, inexperience, disability, vulnerability and/or economic or social position. The process usually involves a stage of 'grooming' involving the use of a variety of manipulative and controlling techniques to target a vulnerable person.

Like domestically abusive relationships, sexually exploitative relationships are characterised by an imbalance of power and the use of controlling behaviours to maintain a young person's subordinate or dependent position, and to regulate his or her everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviours are also extremely common including the use of assault, threat, humiliation and intimidation as a means of ensuring the compliance of a victim.

Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child's consent or immediate recognition. A central mechanism for offenders to extend their control of their victim is through the use of mobile technology.

If you are concerned that a child or young person may be a victim or at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation then you should complete the LSCB multi-agency risk assessment tool and follow the recommended action. The risk assessment toolkit can be found on the LSCB website.


3. Families with Additional Vulnerabilities

Workers should understand the following issues that children and their mothers may face, and take these into consideration when undertaking an assessment and providing support to them:

  • Culture: the culture amongst some communities means that it is often more difficult for women to admit to having marital problems. This is because a failed marriage is often seen as being the woman's fault, and she will be blamed for letting down the family's honour. In some cultures, a woman may not be in a position to divorce her husband. If the husband does not want to comply with this, he can prevent giving a religious divorce to his wife;
  • Immigration status: children and their mothers (and possibly fathers) may have an uncertain immigration status, which could prevent them from accessing services. The mother may also be hesitant to take action against her partner for fear of losing her right to remain in the UK. In some cases, women have received threats of deportation from their partner or extended family if they report domestic abuse and have had their passports taken from them. Similarly, children may have had their passports taken away from them and may fear that they and/or their mother could be deported if they disclose domestic abuse in the family;
  • Language / literacy: children and their mothers may face the additional challenge to engaging with services in that English is not their first language. When working with these children and families, workers should use professional interpreters who have a clear DBS check; it is not acceptable to use a family member or friend, and members of the extended community network should also be avoided wherever possible. For good practice guidelines for Domestic Abuse interpreters. (Please see Standing Together: Good Practice Checklist for Interpreters dealing with Domestic Abuse situations);
  • Temporary accommodation: many families live in temporary accommodation. When a family moves frequently, they may be facing chronic poverty, social isolation, racism or other forms of discrimination and the problems associated with living in disadvantaged areas or in temporary accommodation. These families can become disengaged from, or may have not been able to become engaged with, health, education, welfare and personal social support systems;
  • Recent trauma: some recently immigrant families often have a traumatic history and / or a disrupted family life and can need support to integrate their culture with that of the host country;
  • Disability: children and/or mothers with disabilities may be especially vulnerable in situations where the abuser is also their primary carer, and some refuges may lack appropriate facilities to respond to their particular needs. The British Crime Survey consistently shows that disabled people are much more likely to experience Domestic Abuse than non-disabled people;
  • Social exclusion: children and their families may also face additional vulnerabilities as a result of social exclusion. The British Crime Survey indicates that people who are currently on a low income and/or not owning their own home are more likely than those on a higher income and/or homeowners to have experienced incidents of domestic abuse. This can include women with no recourse to public funds;
  • LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people may also be especially vulnerable, and issues such as shame, stigma, mistrust of authority, fear of having children taken away because of incorrect stereotyping, “outing” etc. can lead to the abuse / violence being hidden and unreported. There are also issues around safe havens for transgender people and their children, and some women’s refuges may not accept men who have not fully transitioned.


4. The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Children and Young People

Children and young people will react in different ways to being brought up in a home with a violent person. Age, race, sex, culture, stage of development, and individual personality will all have an effect on a child's responses. Most children, however, will be affected in some way by tension or by witnessing arguments, distressing behaviour or assaults - even if they do not always show this. They may feel that they are to blame, or they may feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless, or confused. They may have ambivalent feelings, both towards the abuser, and towards the non-abusing parent.

These are some of the effects of domestic abuse on children:

  • They may become anxious or depressed;
  • They may have difficulty sleeping;
  • They may have nightmares or flashbacks;
  • They may complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches;
  • They may start to wet their bed;
  • They may have temper tantrums;
  • They may behave as though they are much younger than they are;
  • They may have problems at school, or may start truanting;
  • They may become aggressive;
  • They may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people;
  • They may have a lowered sense of self-worth;
  • Older children may start to use alcohol or drugs;
  • They may begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves;
  • They may develop an eating disorder.

Abuse may also interfere with the child/young person's social relationships: they may feel unable to invite friends round (or may be prevented from doing so by the perpetrator) out of shame, fear, or concern about what their friends may see. They may feel guilty, and think the abuse is their fault, or that they ought to be able to stop it in some way. There can be an impact on school attendance and achievement: some children will stay home in an attempt to protect their mother, or because they are frightened what may happen if they go out. Worry, disturbed sleep and lack of concentration can all affect school work.

The risks to children living with Domestic Abuse include:

  • Direct Physical or Sexual Abuse of the child. Research shows this happens in up to 60% of cases; also that the severity of the abuse against the mother is predictive of the severity of abuse to the children;
  • The child being abused as part of the abuse against the mother:
  • Being used as pawns or spies by the abusive partner in attempts to control the mother;
  • Being forced to participate in the abuse and degradation by the abusive partner.

Emotional abuse and physical injury to the child from witnessing the abuse:

  • Hearing abusive verbal exchanges between adults in the household;
  • Hearing the abusive partner verbally abuse, humiliate and threaten violence;
  • Observing bruises and injuries sustained by their mother;
  • Hearing their mother’s screams and pleas for help;
  • Observing the abusive partner being removed and taken into police custody;
  • Witnessing their mother being taken to hospital by ambulance;
  • Attempting to intervene in a violent assault;
  • Being physically injured as a result of intervening or by being accidentally hurt whilst present during a violent assault.

Negative material consequences for a child of Domestic Abuse:

  • Being unable or unwilling to invite friends to the house;
  • Frequent disruptions to social life and schooling from moving with their mother fleeing abuse;
  • Hospitalisation of the mother and/or her permanent disability.

Children who witness domestic abuse suffer emotional and psychological maltreatment. They tend to have low self-esteem and experience increased levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fear, aggressive and violent behaviours, including bullying, lack of conflict resolution skills, lack of empathy for others and poor peer relationships, poor school performance, anti-social behaviour, pregnancy, alcohol and substance misuse, self-blame, hopelessness, shame and apathy, post-traumatic stress disorder – symptoms such as hyper-vigilance, nightmares and intrusive thoughts – images of violence, insomnia, enuresis and over protectiveness of their mother and/or siblings.

The impact of Domestic Abuse on children is similar to the effects of any other abuse or trauma and will depend upon such factors as:

  • The severity and nature of the abuse;
  • The length of time the child is exposed to the abuse;
  • Characteristics of the child’s gender, ethnic origin, age, disability, socio economic and cultural background;
  • The warmth and support the child receives in their relationship with their mother, siblings and other family members;
  • The nature and length of the child’s wider relationships and social networks; and
  • The child’s capacity for and actual level of self-protection.

4.1 Teenage relationships

A recent NSPCC survey showed that 25% of girls and 18% of boys have experienced physical abuse in a relationship. There was a greater impact for young women than young men (NSPCC 2009 Barter).

  • 76% of those girls stated had a negative impact on their welfare - only so for 14% of the boys;
  • 31% of the girls and 16% of the boys had experienced sexual partner violence;
  • 70% of those girls reported a negative impact on their welfare of sexual abuse compared to 13% of those boys.

As with adults, abuse in teen relationships doesn’t just cover physical abuse. Other examples of this type of abuse include:

  • Pressuring you into having sex;
  • Controlling behaviour including what friends you can see or speak to and where you go;
  • Jealousy or anger;
  • Threatening to put lies, personal information, pictures on social networking sites, revenge porn;
  • Constant name calling and comments, sexting.


5. The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Unborn Children

30% of domestic abuse begins or escalates during pregnancy, and it has been identified as a prime cause of miscarriage or still-birth, premature birth, foetal psychological damage from the effect of abuse on the mother’s hormone levels, foetal physical 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 may affect her attachment to her child, more so if the pregnancy is a result of rape by her partner.


6. The Impact of Domestic Abuse on Mothers and their Ability to Parent

The child/ren is/are often reliant on their mother as the only source of good parenting, as the abusive partner will have significantly diminished ability to parent well. This is particularly so because domestic abuse very often co-exists with high levels of punishment, the misuse of power and a failure of appropriate self-control by the abusive partner.

Many mothers seek help because they are concerned about the risk domestic abuse poses to their child/ren. However, Domestic Abuse may diminish a mother’s capacity to protect her child/ren and mothers can become so preoccupied with their own survival within the relationship that they are unaware of the effect on their child/ren.

Mothers subjected to domestic abuse have described a number of physical effects, including frequent accommodation moves, economic limitations, isolation from social networks and, in some cases, being physically prevented from fulfilling their parenting role by the abuser. The psychological impact can include:

  • Loss of self-confidence as an individual and parent;
  • Feeling emotionally and physically drained, and distant from the children;
  • Not knowing what to say to the children;
  • Inability to provide appropriate structure, security or emotional and behavioural boundaries for the children;
  • Difficulty in managing frustrations and not taking them out on the children; and
  • Inability to support the child/ren to achieve educationally or otherwise.

Mothers subjected to Domestic Abuse can experience sexually transmitted diseases and/or multiple terminations.

Domestic Abuse contributes directly to the breakdown of mental health, and mothers experiencing domestic abuse are very likely to suffer from depression and other mental health difficulties leading to self-harm, attempted suicide and/or substance misuse.

Possible indicators of domestic abuse in the victim include:

  • Police domestic abuse call outs;
  • Evidence of single or repeated injuries with unlikely explanations;
  • Criminal convictions and/or cautions;
  • Frequent use of prescribed tranquillisers or pain medication;
  • Injuries to breast, chest and abdomen especially during pregnancy;
  • Evidence of sexual or frequent gynaecological problems;
  • Frequent visits to GP with vague complaints or symptoms;
  • Stress or anxiety disorders; isolation from friends, family or colleagues; depression, panic attacks or other symptoms; alcohol and/or drug abuse; suicide attempts or child acting out at school;
  • Appearing frightened, ashamed or evasive; a partner who is extremely jealous or possessive; minimisation of abuse accepting blame for 'deserving' the abuse.


7. The Abusive Partner’s Ability to Parent

Professionals are often very optimistic about men’s parenting skills, whilst scrutinising the mother’s parenting in much greater detail. Research on the parenting of perpetrators is limited, but many struggle to acknowledge the impact of their abuse on their children, interventions should address this. However, what is known from research is that the abusive partners had inferior parenting skills, including being:

  • More irritable;
  • Less physically affectionate;
  • Less involved in child rearing; and
  • Using more negative control techniques, such as physical punishment.

It is also known that maltreating fathers have the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrate overly controlling behaviour, a sense of entitlement, self-centred attitude, and poor parent-child boundaries;
  • Has stereotypical rigid and authoritarian views of parenting and tend to use power-assertive and coercive parenting practices. They hold the belief that children should obey commands unquestioningly - Perceived “impertinence” must be answered with harsh discipline which is justified and necessary – Preoccupied with maintaining control rather than nurturance- Restrict their children’s independence;
  • They almost inevitably undermine the authority of the children’s mother, overrule her parenting decisions, ridicule her in front of their children or tell their children that she is an incompetent parent. Use children as “weapons” against partner;
  • Maltreating fathers typically do not seek intervention voluntarily, nor access social supports. Moreover, they are distrusting of the treatment system. In general, they have difficulty admitting to trouble in their relationships.

The issue of children living with domestic abuse is now recognised as a matter for concern in its own right by both government and key children's services agencies. The link between child physical abuse and domestic abuse is high, with estimates ranging between 30% to 66% depending upon the study (Hester et al [2000]; Edleson [1999]; Humphreys and Thiara [2002]). In 2002, nearly three quarters of children subject of a child protection plan) lived in households where domestic abuse occurs (Department of Health [2002]).


8. Substance Misuse and Mental Ill Health

8.1 Mothers

Mothers who experience Domestic Abuse are more likely to use prescription drugs, alcohol and illegal substances. (Note: J. Jacobs, The Links between Substance Misuse and Domestic Abuse: Current Knowledge and Debates [London: Alcohol Concern, 1998])

For a mother experiencing domestic abuse, alcohol and drugs can represent a wide range of coping and safety strategies. Mothers may have started using legal drugs prescribed to alleviate symptoms of a violent relationship. Mothers may turn to alcohol and drugs as a form of self-medication and relief from the pain, fear, isolation and guilt that are associated with domestic abuse. Alcohol and drug use can help eliminate or reduce these feelings and therefore become part of how she copes with the abuse.

Mothers can be coerced and manipulated into alcohol and drug use. Abusers may often introduce their partner to alcohol or drug use to increase her dependence on him and to control her behaviour. Furthermore, any attempts by the mother to stop her alcohol or drug use are threatening to the controlling partner and some abusive men will actively encourage mothers to leave treatment.

Mothers in abusive relationships are also at risk of Sexual Exploitation. Mothers working in prostitution may be subjected to domestic abuse through their relationship with their ‘pimps’; these relationships will invariably be based on power, control or the use of violence.

The double stigma associated with being both a victim of Domestic Abuse as well as having a substance use problem may compound the difficulties of help-seeking, particularly for black and minority ethnic mothers.

Mental health problems such as depression, trauma symptoms, suicide attempts and self-harm are frequently ‘symptoms of abuse’ and need to be addressed alongside the issues of substance use and domestic abuse.

The relationship between a mother’s alcohol and drug use and/or mental health problems and her experiences of domestic abuse may not (or not all) be linked. Assessment and interventions for these mothers therefore need to be conducted separately, although as part of the same care plan, and at the same time.

Practitioners may wish to refer to the Stella Project Toolkit, which assists practitioners within the domestic violence and substance misuse sectors with the basic knowledge and skills they require to respond to service users safely and appropriately, for guidance. 

8.2 Abusive partners

Men who abuse may use their own or their partners’ alcohol or drug use as an excuse for their abuse. An abusive partner may threaten to expose a mother (or teenage girl’s) use. He may be her supplier and he may increase her dependence on him by increasing her dependence on drugs.

Despite the fact that alcohol, drugs and violence to women often coexist, there is no evidence to suggest a causal link. In addition, no evidence exists to support a “loss of control caused by intoxication” explanation for violence - research and case examples show that abusive partners exert a huge amount of power and control regardless of intoxication.

Even when physical assaults are only committed whilst intoxicated, abusive partners are likely to be committing non-physical forms of abuse when sober. It should never be assumed that by working with an abusive partner’s substance use the violent behaviour will also be reduced. In fact, the violence may increase when substance use is treated. Similarly, it should not be assumed that treating a domestic abuser’s mental ill health will necessarily reduce their violent behaviour – again, the violence may increase.

Therefore, work with an abusive partner should comprise separate assessments and interventions for violence, substance misuse and/or mental ill health. The intervention outcomes are more likely to be positive if the violence, substance use and/or mental ill health are addressed at the same time.


9. Barriers to Disclosure

9.1 Mothers

Practitioners should be aware that some victims may face additional difficulty in disclosing abuse for instance:

  • Older or disabled victims may be dependent on the abuser for care;
  • Victims from black or ethnic minority groups, where the abuse is perpetrated by extended family members or relate to forced marriage issues, may be more isolated due to religious and/or cultural pressures, language barriers, having no recourse to public funds or fear of bringing shame to their 'family honour';
  • Male victims who feel ashamed due to perceived stigma attached to being a man who ‘lets a woman’ be violent towards him;
  • Victims from same sex relationships who fear stigma and prejudice;
  • Victims with other problems e.g. mental health or substance misuse issues, may fear that they will not be believed;
  • Victims will want the abuse to stop, but may want to save the relationship.

There are many reasons why a mother will be unwilling or unable to disclose that she is experiencing domestic abuse. Usually it is because she fears that the disclosure (and accepting help) will be worse than the current situation and could be fatal. A mother may:

  • Minimise her experiences and/or not define them as domestic abuse (this view could be culturally based);
  • Be unable to express her concerns clearly (language can be a significant barrier to disclosure for many women);
  • Fear that her child/ren will be taken into care;
  • Fear the abusive partner will find her again through lack of confidentiality;
  • Fear death;
  • Believe her abusive partner’s promise that it will not happen again, (many mothers do not necessarily want to leave the relationship, they just want the abuse to stop);
  • Feel shame and embarrassment and may believe it is her fault;
  • Feel she will not be believed;
  • Fear that there will not be follow-up support, either because services are just not available or because she will meet with institutional discrimination;
  • Fear the abuser will have her detained;
  • Fear that she will be isolated by her community;
  • Fear she will be deported;
  • Fear that his status will be exposed and she will be punished with an escalation of abuse;
  • Be scared of the future (where she will go, what she will do for money, whether she will have to hide forever and what will happen to the children);
  • Be isolated from friends and family or be prevented from leaving the home or reaching out for help;
  • Have had previous poor experience when she disclosed.

Some women are simply not ready. It is therefore important to keep asking the question.

9.2 For children

Children affected by Domestic Abuse often find disclosure difficult or go to great lengths to hide it. This could be because the child is:

  • Protective of their mother;
  • Protective of their abusing parent;
  • Extremely fearful of the consequence of sharing family ‘secrets’ with anyone. This may include fears that it will cause further abuse to their mother and/or themselves;
  • Being threatened by the abusing parent;
  • Fearful of being taken into care;
  • Fearful of losing their friends and school;
  • Fearful of exposing the family to dishonour, shame or embarrassment;
  • Fearful that their mother (and they themselves) may be deported.


10. Enabling Disclosure

10.1 Children, young people and mothers

Where a professional is concerned about / has recognised the signs of Domestic Abuse, the professional can approach the subject with a child or a mother with a framing question. That is, the question should be ‘framed’ so that the subject is not suddenly and awkwardly introduced, e.g.: For a mother: “As domestic abuse is so common, we now ask everyone who comes into our service if they experience this. This is because if affects people’s safety, health and well-being, and our service wants to support and keep people as safe as possible”; for a child: “We know that many mums and dads have arguments, does that ever happen in your family?”

The professional should explain the limits of confidentiality and his/her safeguarding responsibilities.

If the child or mother says s/he has been abused, the professional should ask clarification questions.

What to do with the disclosure - Professionals should not press the child for answers, instead:

  • Listen and believe what the child says;
  • Reassure the child/ren that the abuse is not their fault, and it is not their responsibility to stop it from happening; and
  • Give several telephone numbers, including local police community safety units, local domestic abuse advocacy services (please refer to locally produced information), Children’s Social Care, the Childline number (0800 1111), and the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline (0808 800 5000).

10.2 The abusive partner

Professionals should be alert to and prepared to receive and clarify a disclosure about Domestic Abuse from an abusive partner / father. Professionals may have contact with a man on his own, (e.g. a GP or substance misuse or mental health service) or in the context of a family, (e.g. to a school, accident and emergency unit, maternity service or Children’s Social Care). He may present with a problem such as substance misuse, stress, depression or psychosis or aggressive or offending behaviour – without reference to abusive behaviour in his household / relationship.

Professionals should consult before seeking to enable or clarify a disclosure from an abusive partner, taking into account their own safety and the safety of any child/ren and their mother.

If the man states that domestic abuse is an issue, or the professional suspects that it is, the professional should:

  • Establish if there are any children in the household and, if so, how many and their ages;
  • If there are children, tell the man that children are always affected by living with Domestic Abuse, whether or not they witness it directly;
  • Explain the limits of confidentiality and safeguarding responsibilities;
  • Consider whether the level of detail disclosed is sufficient;
  • Be clear that abuse is always unacceptable and that abusive behaviour is a choice;
  • Be respectful, affirm any accountability shown by the man, but not collude.

The professional should act to safeguard the child/ren and/or their mother by informing their line manager and their agency’s nominated safeguarding children adviser (if applicable) and complete the following where appropriate;

  • The Barnardo's Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix with the information available at the time, assess the degree of risk of harm to the child/ren;
  • If Early Help - escalate to Social Care due to the risks identified for the child and/or the mother; escalation could be for Social Care Assessment or to instigate Child Protection procedures;

The DASH risk assessment to be completed with the victim and a referral made to MARAC for 'High Risk' cases and/or local specialist support services for non high risk cases of Domestic Abuse (see MARAC Operating Protocol for more information); (see Section 11, Additional Considerations Where a Parent is Fleeing from Domestic Violence and Abuse).

Professionals should be aware that the majority of abusive partners will deny or minimise domestic abuse.

When a victim is not being seen alone, staff should also be alert to the following combination of signals:

  • The victim waits for her/his partner to speak first;
  • The victim glances at her/his partner each time (s)he speaks, checking her/his reaction;
  • The victim smooths over any conflict;
  • The partner speaks for most of the time;
  • The partner sends clear signals to the victim, by eye / body movement, facial expression or verbally, to warn them;
  • The partner has a range of complaints about the victim, which (s)he does not defend.

Consideration must also be given to young people who may themselves be in violent relationships.


11. Additional Considerations Where a Parent is Fleeing from Domestic Abuse

Victims are at most risk at the point of leaving, or having recently left the violent partner and may need support.

A parent and child(ren) fleeing from Domestic Abuse may require a significant level of support as they may be:

  • Experiencing problems with housing, finance and employment;
  • Isolated from usual family support / community networks - especially if moved / placed outside their home area;
  • Struggling to provide / maintain stability.

Women with children fleeing Domestic Abuse may receive support from the Housing Department. Children's Services should be included in planning the course of action if relocation is necessary.


Section Two


12. Lincolnshire Children’s Services Response to Domestic Abuse Notifications

12.1 Initial response to domestic abuse

Police are often the first point of contact and they (or any other agency that becomes aware of domestic abuse) should undertake a risk assessment (DASH (Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment and Honour Based Violence). All front line Officers are trained in how to deal with situations of domestic abuse. DAO’s (Specially trained Domestic Abuse Officers) are also given specialist training in dealing with victims of domestic abuse.

The Officers initial response is to ensure the safety of the victim and:

  • Ascertain whether there are any children living in the household or if the victim is pregnant;
  • Make a preliminary determination of the degree of exposure of the children to the incidents of abuse and its consequent impact;
  • If there is an immediate direct risk to a child, ensure immediate protective action is taken and a referral is made to Children’s Services;
  • Provide the victim with information on local support services and refuge details, taking into account any ethnic or cultural issues (i.e. National Helpline, local specialist agencies / help-lines, Woman's Aid, Victim Support - details available from local domestic abuse forums).

Practitioners should be aware that IDVA’s are available to work with all levels of risk (high, medium and standard) and therefore should always be contacted when working with families experiencing domestic abuse.

12.2 Domestic abuse protocol between Children’s Services and Lincolnshire Police

Where there are any incidents of Domestic Abuse that come to the attention of Lincolnshire Police a protocol is in place for them informing Children’s Services. See Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board, Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Protocol - Resource Pack for Practitioners.

12.3 Domestic abuse notifications: screened as information

As part of the screening process (see Initial Contact and Referrals) Children's Services may decide to treat the Domestic Abuse notification as 'information and advice' only if all the following apply:

  • This is the first report of domestic abuse in the last twelve months; and
  • The report concerns a minor incident, without injury; and
  • There are no other indicators of risk e.g. none of the circumstances above apply and there are no high risk indicators in the Police assessment.

In some cases, further information from other agencies will be required before a decision can be made about the appropriate threshold of response.

In making the decision about seeking information prior to / after direct contact with the family, consideration should be given to the:

  • Likely impact to the child and the adult victim, including the possibility of increasing the risk of Domestic Abuse;
  • Need for an approach that takes full account of information available on home circumstances.

Where no further action is taken, the Customer Service Centre will provide the referrer with details of Domestic Abuse services in the locality.

12.4 Domestic abuse notifications: screened as: Early Help and Team Around the Child (TAC)

As part of the screening process Initial Contact and Referrals. Children's Services may decide to treat the Domestic Abuse notification as 'information and advice’, as above, however may deem it appropriate that the referring agency complete an Early Help Assessment to look at support that can be offered to the child(ren) and/or victim or be requested to instigate a TAC to look at a multi-agency group package of support Early Help and Team Around the Child.

Agencies will still consider the issues detailed below when completing their assessment of the child(ren) and family circumstance. Agencies will also still need to consider whether a referral will be made to a MARAC. Customer Service Centre will also provide the referrer with details of Domestic Abuse services in the locality

12.5 Domestic abuse notifications: screened as: Social Care Assessment / Section 47 Enquiries

A minimum response of an Assessment must be undertaken for any serious incidents of Domestic Abuse (e.g. where an injury has occurred) and where a child is living / regularly staying at the household.

Assessments should also be undertaken for lesser incidents where there are possible concerns about the welfare of the children.

More minor incidents should be considered individually, but no more than three incidents within twelve months should be reported without the completion of at least an Assessment, as per the above protocol.

12.6 Possibility of significant harm to child

If there is Domestic Abuse, the implications for children (including the unborn child if the victim is pregnant) in the household must be considered since research indicates a strong link between domestic abuse and all types of abuse and Neglect. A key part of protecting children in a domestic abusive context involves an assessment of the risk presented by the perpetrator.

Where the family refuse to co-operate with an Assessment, consideration should be given to the justification for a Strategy Discussion.

Circumstances in which a Strategy Discussion should be undertaken include those when:

  • A child has experienced Significant Harm during any domestic abuse incident even if inadvertently injured;
  • A child has witnessed another being seriously injured;
  • The victim is pregnant;
  • There has been an escalation in frequency and/or severity of incidents (reported or not);
  • The abuse involved sexual assault or attempted strangulation or the use of weapons or threats to kill.

The decision to undertake a Section 47 enquiry should not be done in isolation by the social worker, but following a Strategy Discussion by the Practice Supervisor and/or Team Manager.

If a child is known to be involved in a violent relationship, a Strategy Discussion should be initiated e.g. a child involved in a relationship with a violent girlfriend / boyfriend.

Whenever an Assessment or Section 47 Enquiry is undertaken there must be liaison with all agencies involved with the family and the child(ren) must be seen.


13. Assessment Process

An assessment can refer to both an assessment completed within Early Help (Early Help Assessment (EHA)) and an assessment completed by a social worker (Social Care Assessment (SCA)). (This section should be read in conjunction with the Children's Services Manual Social Care Assessments.)

Opportunities should be provided for both partners to be interviewed separately, and in a safe setting. It is important that, when working with perpetrators, practitioners are open minded, honest and have professional curiosity through both the assessment period and ongoing interventions.

Many victims of domestic abuse feel unable to disclose its existence or severity. The following issues should be discussed with the alleged victim as part of any assessment, (see also Appendix 3: Clarification questions for a mother).

  • Severity, frequency and history of any abuse, threats etc;
  • Circumstances of the abuse and if compounded by drugs / alcohol;
  • Extent and nature of the children's experience of the abuse;
  • Perception of risk to the child(ren);
  • Threats used - consider all household members;
  • Available options - immediate and in the long term;
  • Factors that prevent the victim taking action to protect self and children;
  • Whether it is possible to share victim's perceptions with alleged perpetrator.

The alleged victim of abuse should be advised of the availability of legal advice and the options available through the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Family Law Act 1996 Part IV.

The interview with the alleged perpetrator of the abuse should be planned carefully between the worker and their line manager. Care must be taken not to disclose addresses or make unsafe contact arrangements.

If there is an acknowledgement of abuse, the interview should clarify the points above. Where there is no acknowledgement of abuse and it is not possible to share the victim's account, there should be general discussions about the children's welfare.

The children should be interviewed (if of sufficient age and understanding) and their experiences explored. It is important to consider the possibility that a child may have experienced direct abuse her/himself and /or may be inhibited from disclosing concerns due to fear of (further) domestic abuse or (further) abuse. (See Appendix 1: Communicating with a child and Appendix 2: Clarification questions for a child).

The practitioner should then:

  • Where there has been disclosure, support the child and/or mother by taking what s/he says seriously;
  • Make an immediate decision, where possible, about whether a child or mother requires treatment or protection from emergency services;
  • Where there has been disclosure, ask the child and/or mother what strategies s/he has for keeping him/herself safe (if any). See Section 14, Safety Planning);
  • Record the information and the source of the information;
  • Discuss the information / concerns with your line manager;
  • Use the information gathered, the disclosure, along with any other known information about the family to assess the risk of harm to a child and his/her mother. See Appendix 9: Legal interventions;
  • The assessed risk (scale 1 – 4) will assist the practitioner and their line manager in deciding what action to take to support the child/ren and mother. It will be an immediate assessment, as more information becomes available the potential risk of harm to the child/ren may be judged to increase or decrease (i.e. move up or down a scale);
  • The assessed risk will also assist the practitioner and their line manager in deciding what action to take in relation to the abuser.

As the DASH form is an assessment tool for adult victims the practitioners needs to consider using a risk assessment for the child(ren) with regards to the impact of the Domestic Abuse. Please consider using the following tools for practitioners:

Practitioners should ensure that the referring agency has completed a DASH form and referred to MARAC if the risk is high (this should have been a prerequisite of the agency for referring to Children's Social Care). If the referring agency has not completed this then there needs to be an agreement between agencies for the completion of the form to ensure a risk assessment of the victim is completed. This will then indicate whether a referral to MARAC is necessary. Whilst there is no formal recording option on ICS, the practitioner should add a case note and state that a DASH for the victim has been completed and by whom, and that a referral to MARAC has been made.

The practitioner should be aware that risk is dynamic and constantly changing as situations within the abusive relationship changes, therefore the DASH form should be revisited when it has been identified that the risk or circumstances have changed, for the victim, child/ren and/or the perpetrator.

If the presenting factor within Early Help or Social Care intervention is not Domestic Abuse related, but as intervention progresses the indicators become present, the practitioner will need to ensure all risk assessments are completed and referrals made as detailed above.

SafeLives has developed the Young People's Version of the DASH Risk Identification Checklist to help practitioners identify the level of risk in cases of Domestic Abuse, stalking and 'honour'-based violence in young people's relationships. The Young People's Checklist is currently piloted for use with young people aged 13-17 by Young People's Violence Advisors (YPVAs) and other professionals. Practitioners should therefore note that in the case of young people, it is expected that many would have additional vulnerabilities which might mean a lower score but still constitutes a high risk case. The practitioner's professional judgement is particularly important when identifying risk in young people. Therefore there should be a greater emphasis on professional judgement than on the score, until the pilot is complete. See Resources for frontline domestic abuse workers and Idvas (SafeLives website).


14. Safety Planning

Safety planning for mothers and children is key to all interventions to safeguard children in domestic abuse situations. All immediate and subsequent assessments of risk to child/ren and their mother should include a judgement on the family's existing safety planning. Emergency safety plans should be in place whilst assessments, referrals and interventions are being progressed.

In some cases which where there is a severe risk of harm to the child/ren, the emergency safety plan / strategy should be for the child/ren and, if possible, the mother, not to have contact with the abuser.

There are examples of Safety Planning for a mother, child and young person (See Appendix 4: Safety planning with women and Appendix 5: Safety planning with children and young people; however the practitioner may also consider using the Signs of Safety, Safety Planning. See Signs of Safety.

It is important that Practitioners do not work in isolation and utilise the skills and expertise of specialist services (See Section 9, Barriers to disclosure). in assessing, intervening and safety planning for the victim and the child/ren.

14.1 Safety planning with mothers

Practitioners should consider using the proforma in Appendix 4: Safety planning with women. Safety planning needs to begin with an understanding of the mother's views of the risks to herself and her child/ren and the strategies she has in place to address them.

14.1.1 Remaining with an abusive partner

A key question is whether a mother plans to remain in the relationship with the abusive partner. If she does, practitioners should assess the risk of harm to the children using the risk identification matrix, to decide whether the risks of harm to the children can be managed with such a plan.

If the mother is choosing not to separate, then the abusive partner will need to be involved in the assessment and intervention. Practitioners should make all reasonable efforts to engage him and refer him to an appropriate perpetrator programme.

Practitioners need to consider with the mother the actions required prior to contacting the abusive partner to ensure her and the children's safety. Specifically, practitioners should not tell him what the allegations are before having developed a safety plan for this with the mother and children.

If a practitioner addressing the concerns with the abusive partner will put the mother and children at further risk, then the practitioner and the mother should plan for separation.

14.1.2 Separation

If a mother wants separation, practitioners need to ensure that there is sufficient support in place to enact this plan. Specifically, practitioners should be aware that separation itself does not ensure safety, it often at least temporarily, increases the risk to the child/ren or mother.

The possibility of removing the abusive partner rather than the mother and child/ren should be considered first.

The obstacles in the way of a mother leaving an abusive partner are the same as those which prevent mothers from disclosing the Domestic Abuse in the first place – fears that the separation will be worse than the current situation or fatal.

Practitioners need to be aware that separation may not be the best safety plan if the mother is not wholly committed to leaving, and in consequence may well return.

Where a practitioner and a mother disagree about the need for separation, the practitioner's task is to convey to the mother that her reasons for wanting to stay are understood and appreciated. However, if the threshold of Significant Harm is reached the practitioner must make their line manager aware and either make a referral to Children's Social Care or consider instigating Child Protection procedures for consideration of an Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC). Signs of Safety mapping sessions should assist the practitioner in determining the safety for the child/ren.

14.2 Safety planning - Early Help:

Key agencies which may be involved in Early Help and the safety planning are the school, health, housing, an advocacy service, the police community safety unit, Women's Aid or Refuge – as appropriate. A professional should be nominated to proactively engage with the mother and maintain contact, particularly immediately after separation.

Professionals should keep the safety of the children constantly under review, re-assessing the risk of harm using the risk identification matrix in the light of any new information. If the risk of harm to the child/ren increase the Lead Professional must follow the procedures set out in Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures including, as appropriate, contacting or making a referral to Children's Social Care.

Mothers need to know from the outset that this process may need to be enacted.

14.3 Safety planning: Children's Social Care:

Children's Social Care should advise on or lead the safety planning, and include all agencies as detailed within Early Help above. It may be that the best person to engage the mother is not the Social Worker but the Domestic Abuse Service support worker, if this is the case communication is key between all agencies to ensure information regarding circumstances and risks is shared appropriately.

Alternatively, the social worker may wish to consider a referral to the Family Group Conference (FGC) Service to work with the Mother and her support networks in order to develop a FGC plan that promotes the future safety of the family (consideration may be given also to an additional FGC plan that will address the ongoing safe contact between the Father and the child/ children). The FGC team will utilise a range of approaches to ensure the safety of the Mother and child/ children, this can include a 'Family Group Conference Meeting' whereby all parties meet together at an agreed date/ time and venue to produce a workable FGC plan, additionally the FGC Practitioner can undertake 'remote planning' whereby the worker will meet with all parties individually to gain their views and contributions, in order to produce a workable FGC plan.

Alternatively the FGC Practitioner can use 'shuttle mediation' in order to protect a victim of domestic abuse, this involves separating the parties into different rooms, with the FGC Practitioner moving between the rooms during the negotiations. In all cases the FGC Practitioner will discuss with the Mother the most appropriate approach to meet her needs and to allay any fears/ anxiety's she has. Please refer to the Family Group Conference Procedure.

14.4 Safety planning with children and young people

As soon as a practitioner becomes aware of domestic abuse within a family, s/he should use the proforma Safety Planning with children and young people (Appendix 5: Safety planning with children and young people). Safety Planning with the child should be according to their age and understanding. If a safety plan already exists, it should be reviewed.

The plan should emphasise that the best thing a child can do for themselves and their mother is not to try to intervene but to keep safe and, where appropriate, to get away and seek help.

The child/ren should be given several telephone numbers, including Lincolnshire Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency, local domestic abuse advocacy services (please refer to locally produced information), Children's Social Care including Out of Hours, the Childline number (0800 1111), and the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline (0808 800 5000).

When the mother's safety plan involves separation from the abusive partner, the disruption and difficulties for the child/ren need to be considered and addressed.

Maintaining and strengthening the mother / child relationship is in most cases key to helping the child to survive and recover from the impact of the violence and abuse.

The child/ren may need a long term support plan, with the support ranging from mentoring and support to integrate into a new locality and school / nursery school or attend clubs and other leisure / play activities through to therapeutic services and groupwork to enable the child to share their experiences.

Practitioners should ensure that in planning for the longer term support needs of the child/ren at all levels, input is received from the full range of key agencies (e.g. the school, health, Local Authority housing, Social Housing Providers, an advocacy service, the police community safety unit, Women's Aid or Refuge, relevant local activity groups and/or therapeutic services).


15. Abusive Partners / Children

Practitioners responding to abusive partners or children should act in accordance with the severity of the abuse.

15.1 Working with men who abuse their partners

The primary aim of work with men who abuse their partners is to increase the safety of children and their mothers. A secondary aim is to hold the abusive partner accountable for his abuse and provide him with opportunities to change.

Men who abuse their partners will seek to control any contact a practitioner makes with them or work undertaken with them. Most abusive partners will do everything they can to avoid taking responsibility for their abusive behaviour towards their partner and their child/ren.

Where an abusive partner is willing to acknowledge his violent behaviour and seeks help to change, this should be encouraged and affirmed. Such men should be referred to appropriate programmes which work to address the cognitive structures that underpin controlling behaviours. Professionals should avoid referring for anger management, as this approach does not challenge the factors that underpin the abusive partner's use of power and control.

When a mother leaves a violent situation, the abusive partner must never be given the address or phone number of where she is staying.

Professionals should never agree to accept a letter or pass on a message from an abusive partner unless the mother has requested this.

Joint work between an abusive partner and a mother should only be considered where the abusive partner has completed an assessment with an appropriate specialist agency.

Men who abuse their partners should be invited to joint meetings with the mother only where it is assessed that it is safe for this to occur.

15.2 Children who abuse family members

The official definition of Domestic Abuse covers individuals from the age of 16 years in an intimate or family relationship. However there are occasions of familial abuse where the parent/victim is over the age of 16 yrs. but the child/perpetrator is under the age of 16 yrs.

Children and young people of both genders can direct violence or abuse towards their parents or siblings. The hostile behaviour of children who abuse in this way may have its roots in early emotional harm, for which the child will need support and treatment.

Practitioners need to ensure that the risk is assessed to both the child and those around him/her. Risk assessments should be completed and consideration given to referring to Social Care and/or instigating Child Protection procedures due to the level of risk.

Further guidance and information on Adolescent to Parent Violence (APV and Domestic Abuse can be found on the following link: Domestic Violence and Abuse (GOV.UK) Guidance.


16. Staff Safety

Practitioners are at risk whenever they work with a family where one or more family members are violent.

Practitioners should:

  • Be aware that domestic abuse is present but undisclosed or not known in many of the families they work with;
  • Ensure that they are familiar with their agency's safety at work policy;
  • Not undertake a visit to a home alone where there is a possibility that a violent partner may be present, nor see a violent partner alone in the office;
  • Avoid putting themselves in a dangerous position (e.g. by offering to talk to the abuser about the mother or being seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship);
  • Ensure that any risk is communicated to other agency workers involved with the family.

Managers should ensure that professionals have the appropriate training and skills for working with children and their families experiencing Domestic Abuse; and use supervision sessions both to allow a professional to voice fears about abuse in a family being directed at them; and also to check that safe practice is being followed in all cases where Domestic Abuse is known or suspected.


17. Staff Training

All practitioners will complete the basic Domestic Abuse training as detailed below. Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (AYSE) social workers will complete Domestic Abuse modules within their training, and Social Workers will complete both face to face and e-Learning training on Domestic Abuse. There is also the expectation that staff will complete refresher training every 3 years.

DA Module Face to Face Training ASYE
DASH/MARAC Training Face to Face Training ASYE/Level 1, 2,/AP/PS
DA Awareness E-Learning All Children's Service Staff


18. Potential Exclusion Interventions

If a Child Protection Conference is held, consideration should be given to any need to exclude the violent partner for part or all of the meeting LSCB: ICPC.

Practitioners should inform mothers of their legal options, but should also always refer mothers to specialist advice services, such as CAB, a Law Centre, Women's Aid or Independent Domestic Violence Advisors. Domestic violence is a crime under both civil and criminal law, (see Appendix 9: Legal interventions) details legal options available to the victim and/or Districts. Practitioners should be aware that this list is not an exhaustive one and practitioners should contact either their supervisor/manager or the County Domestic Abuse Manager for a local list of specialist agencies.

Children's Social Care could also pursue legal options of:

  • Relocation of alleged perpetrators of abuse;
  • Exclusion conditions attached to an Emergency Protection and interim Care Order;
  • An injunction under the Housing Act 1996 (chapter III of Part V) to restrain anti-social behaviour with power of arrest attached, where violence has occurred or is threatened;
  • Consideration should also be given to referring the victim to a MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference).


19. MARACS

The main aim of the MARAC is to reduce the risk of serious harm or homicide for a victim and to increase the safety, health, and wellbeing of victims - adults and children. In a MARAC local agencies will meet to discuss the highest risk victims of Domestic Abuse in their area. Information about the risks faced by those victims, the actions needed to ensure safety, and the resources available locally are shared and used to create a risk management plan involving all agencies.

The MARAC will help ensure that high risk victims are supported and better protected from further abuse by a coordinated effort from all agencies and organisations. The views of the victim are taken into account by the meeting and there is close liaison where possible, between the victim and partner agencies to ensure that the safety plan is indeed safe. The MARAC helps high risk victims access more resources locally, helps build relationships with local agencies and impacts on the core purpose of the MARAC which is to reduce repeat victimisation and ensure that robust safety planning for and with the victim is undertaken.

The MARAC provides a valuable opportunity to share the information which other agencies may have in an appropriate manner, which will assist to determine the true extent of risk to the victim and any children, ensuring a more effective safety plan.

If the practitioner is referring to MARAC having completed the DASH form, the MARAC rep should present the case having liaised with the practitioner. If it is a particularly complex case the practitioner may wish to attend. This is for the practitioner and the MARAC representative for Children's Services to agree.

Children's Services' representatives attend all MARAC meetings and will carry out research on all cases being heard in respect of the child(ren) of the victim and/or when the victim and/or perpetrator is aged under 18 years old. As a practitioner you may receive a request from the MARAC representative for information regarding a child(ren) on your caseload. It is essential that you provide the requested information to the representative in a timely manner to ensure feedback can be given to the MARAC group to ensure effective safety planning.

See the LCC MARAC website.

The MARAC rep will update ICS with any actions from the MARAC meeting using the MARAC case note. It is the practitioner's responsibility to ensure these actions are completed within timescales. The practitioner will update ICS using the relevant MARAC case note within timescales. There is zero tolerance from Children's Services, and all other agencies to outstanding MARAC actions.

If the case is not an open case to Children's Social Care, it will be the responsibility of the MARAC representative to ensure a contact is added to ICS, and then sent through to the Screening Manager for screening. Action will be taken thereafter as per screening procedures.


20. Domestic Abuse Guidance for LCC Employees and Managers

Whilst this Domestic Abuse policy is intended for use by all professionals who have contact with children and with adults who are parents / carers, and therefore have responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, Domestic Abuse is an issue which affects all sections of society, and it is therefore important that Lincolnshire County Council has clear and effective responses to help minimise the impact of domestic abuse on their employees.

Should you or your staff be affected by Domestic Abuse, please refer to: Domestic Abuse Guidance for Employees and Managers.


21. Support Services in Lincolnshire

Domestic Abuse in Lincolnshire website

Lincolnshire Police Domestic Abuse website

This is Abuse website

Local services

West Lindsey and Lincoln area:
West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service
www.wldas.org.uk
Telephone: 01427 616219

North and South Kesteven area:
West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service
www.wldas.org.uk
Telephone: 01427 616219

East Lindsey area:
East Lindsey Domestic Abuse Service
www.personalisedsupport.co.uk
Telephone: 01507 609830

Boston and South Holland area:
Boston Women's Aid
www.bostonwomensaid.org.uk

Boston Mayflower
www.bostonmayflower.org.uk
Telephone: 01205 318600

SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre):

SARC provides a safe environment where victims of Rape, Sexual Assault or Sexual Abuse can get support and advice. They also provide the possibility of making a report to the police and undertaking a forensic examination (if this is what you choose).

They are open to all victims, regardless of whether they want to report a crime to the police or not. There are often other options available to you that you may not have considered and pathways to the right kind of help for you.

Email - info@springlodge.org
Website - www.springlodge.org
01522 524402 - Mon to Fri 9am till 5pm
01371 812686 - at any other time

National services

24-hour national Domestic Abuse Helpline (run in partnership by Women’s Aid and Refuge)
www.womensaid.org.uk
Telephone: 0808 2000 247

Forced Marriage Unit
www.foc.gov.uk/forcedmarriage
Telephone: 020 7008 0151 9a.m to 5p.m Monday to Friday

Mens Advice Line
www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Telephone: 0808 802 4040

Support helpline for LGBT victims of domestic abuse
www.galop.org.uk
Telephone: 0800 999 5428

Childline
www.childline.org.uk
Telephone: 0800 1111

Samaritans
www.samaritans.org.uk
Telephone: 08457 90 90 90

Shelter
www.shelter.org.uk
Telephone: 0808 800 4444

Network for Surviving Stalking
www.nss.org.uk

National Stalking Helpline:
Telephone: 0808 802 0300

National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC)
www.napac.org.uk

Information for children and Young People
www.thehideout.org.uk
www.teeninfolincs.co.uk
www.nspcc.org.uk

Refuge - Supported Accommodation for Male Victims
Telephone: 01753 549865
www.ebwomensaid.org.uk

Victim Support
www.victimsupport.org.uk
Telephone number: 0300 3031947


Appendix 1: Communicating with a Child

When talking with and listening to a child about domestic abuse professionals should:

  • Never promise complete confidentiality – explain your responsibilities;
  • Do promise to keep the child informed of what is happening;
  • Give the child time to talk and yourself time to understand the situation from the child’s perspective;
  • Create opportunities for the child to disclose whether in addition to the domestic abuse they are also being, or at risk of being, directly physically or sexually abused by the abusive partner;
  • Be straightforward and clear, use age appropriate language;
  • Encourage the child to talk to their mother about his/her experience – as appropriate;
  • Emphasise that the abuse is not the child’s fault;
  • Let the child know that s/he is not the only children experiencing this;
  • Make sure that the child understands it is not his/her responsibility to protect his/her mother, whilst validating the child’s concern and any action s/he may have taken to protect their mother;
  • Do not assume that the child will hate the abuser, it is likely that s/he may simply hate the behaviour;
  • Allow the child to express their feelings about what s/he has experienced;
  • Check with the child whether they know what to do to keep themselves safe and have a network of adults who they trust. If not, work on this with them or ensure that any work done with the child by other practitioners includes safety planning. See Section 14, Safety Planning;
  • Recognise that children will have developed their own coping strategies to deal with the impact of violence and abuse. Some of these may be negative in the longer term for the child, but where they are positive they should be drawn on to develop safety strategies for the future;
  • Do not assume that the child will consider themselves as being abused
  • Do not minimise the abuse;
  • Offer the child support with any difficulties in school or ensure that any work done with the child by other practitioners includes support in school;
  • Give the child information about sources of advice and support s/he may want to use; and
  • Give the message that the child can come back to you again.


Appendix 2: Clarification Questions for a Child           

Click here to view Appendix 2: Clarification Questions for a Child.


Appendix 3: Clarification Questions for a Mother

Click here to view Appendix 3: Clarification Questions for a Mother.


Appendix 4: Safety Planning with Women

Click here to view Appendix 4: Safety Planning with Women.


Appendix 5: Safety Planning with Children and Young People

Click here to view Appendix 5: Safety Planning with Children and Young People.


Appendix 6: Working with Abusive Partners

Click here to view Appendix 6: Working with Abusive Partners.


Appendix 7: Risk Management with Abusive Partners

Where the mother is indicating she wishes the abusive partner to be involved in her and the child’s life, contact should be made with Respect. Respect is the UK membership organisation for work with domestic abuse perpetrators, male victims and young people.

When the abusive partner indicates that he is worried about his behaviour, and is ready to take responsibility for his need to change, it may be appropriate to start to discuss plans for keeping his partner safe from his abusive behaviour, prior to work on the programme beginning. This might occur in situations where there is likely to be a delay in starting such work; it should only be undertaken after consultation with the agency offering the perpetrator programme.

Additionally, before undertaking any safety planning / risk management work with an abusive partner, professionals should ensure that the mother is aware of what is being proposed, and that there is confidence that such work will not compromise her safety.

Abusers should be referred to programmes accredited by Respect (see www.respect.uk). Abuser programmes should always be integrated with associated women’s services and with specialist child protection services. Abusive partners may also be referred to specialist child protection services (e.g. working with children subject of child protection plans and their families.

Professionals need to be aware of 'disguised compliance', which is when parents/carers appear to co-operate with professionals but have little or no intention of changing their behaviour permanently, and/or don’t admit their lack of commitment to the process and work subversively to undermine it. There is the need from professionals for ‘respectful scepticism”, a term borne from recent serious case reviews.


Appendix 8: Assessing the Risk of Harm to a Child

How to use the risk identification matrix:

Barnardo's Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix

The risk identification matrix is a tool to assist professionals (the term includes unqualified managers, staff and volunteers) to use the available information to come to a judgement about the risk of harm to a child. This may include deciding that the available information is not enough to form a sound judgement about the risk.

Professionals who have not had specific training should, wherever possible, complete the risk identification matrix together with their line manager or a specialist domestic abuse worker.

A professional may have a lot or a very little information indicating that domestic abuse is taking place within a family. The professional should look across the whole matrix and tick the description/s of the incidents / circumstances which correspond best to the information available at the time. This is likely to mean ticking several descriptions.

The scale headings at the top of each section indicate the degree of seriousness of each cluster of incidents / circumstances (e.g. scale 1: moderate risk of harm).

Each scale has categories to assist practitioners to think through whether the information is about the:

  • Evidence of domestic abuse;

This is the most significant determinant of the scale of risk (moderate through to severe).

  • Characteristics of the child or situation which are additional 'risk factors / potential vulnerabilities';

These are the factors that may increase the risk of children suffering significant harm through the domestic abuse.

  • Characteristics of the child or situation which are 'protective factors'.

Professionals should keep in mind that protective factors may help to mitigate risk factors and potential vulnerabilities.

A family's situation may mean that there are ticks under more than one scale heading e.g. moderate (scale 1) and moderate to serious (scale 2). Where this is the case, professionals should judge the risk to the child/ren to be at the higher level (in this case, scale 2) and plan accordingly.

Practitioners should always keep in mind the possibility that a piece of information, currently not known, could significantly raise the threshold of risk for a child.

Scale 1 – Moderate risk of Harm to the Child/ren Identified

Threshold scale 1 assesses the potential risk of harm to the child/ren as moderate. A child in this situation will have additional needs as defined within the Meeting the Needs document. The child/ren and their mother are likely to need family support interventions already being offered or which can be referred to by the practitioner.

Scale 2 – Moderate to Serious Risk of Harm to the Child/ren Identified

Threshold scale 2. assesses the potential risk of harm to the child/ren as moderate to serious. A child in this situation will have additional needs as defined within the Meeting the Needs document. The child/ren and their mother are likely to need family support interventions offered by more than one agency, which are co-ordinated by a lead professional.

Scale 3 – Safeguarding, Serious risk of Harm to the Child/ren identified

Threshold scale 3. assesses the potential risk of harm to the child/ren as serious. In threshold scale 3, protection factors are limited and the children may be suffering or be at risk of suffering significant harm. Intervention and support for the child/ren and their mother will require LA children’s social care planning, via a section 17 children in need assessment.

Scale 4 – Initiate Child Protection Procedures, Severe risk of Harm to the Child/ren Identified

Threshold scale 4. assesses the domestic abuse as severe with increased concern regarding children’s well-being due to additional contributory risk factors. In threshold scale 4, protective factors are extremely limited and the threshold of significant harm is reached.


Appendix 9: Legal Interventions

Click here to view Appendix 9: Legal interventions.


Appendix 10: DV Disclosure Scheme and DV Protection Notices/Orders

Click here to view Appendix 10: DV Disclosure Scheme and DV Protection Notices/Orders.


Appendix 11: Key facts about Domestic Abuse

Click here to view Appendix 11: Key facts about Domestic Abuse.

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