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Domestic Abuse

dom-abuse01Domestic Abuse includes 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.

This 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.

Use of Gender Language in Procedures, particularly in relation to Domestic Violence and Abuse

Please note that throughout the WSCP procedures, particularly those related to domestic abuse perpetrators are generally referred to in the masculine and the term ‘mother’ is often used to refer to the non-abusive partner. This gender specific language is based on research and reflects the majority of cases. However it is important to recognise that it does not always apply – males can be victims and females can be perpetrators – and the terms should always be read flexibly

Domestic Abuse and Children

dom-abuse02The issue of children living with Domestic Violence and 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 Violence is high, with estimates ranging between 30% to 66%.

In 2002, nearly three quarters of children subject of a Child Protection Plan lived in households where Domestic Violence and Abuse occurs

Children living in a family environment where there is Domestic Violence and Abuse are at risk whether or not they have directly witnessed the abuse. Some children living with Domestic Violence and Abuse are at risk of Significant Harm.

A key concern in safeguarding children and young people is the potential for long term emotional damage caused by the presence of Domestic Violence and Abuse during early formative years. Children can witness and be affected by Domestic Violence and Abuse from all corners of the household, and over 90% are aware of it happening.

The poster below includes 5 key facts related to domestic abuse in the UK:

Key facts relating to domestic violence and abuse in the UK

Combatting Domestic Abuse

Combatting Domestic Abuse remains a priority area for the Wirral Safeguarding Children Board. The Domestic Abuse committee have published a Domestic Abuse Strategy for Wirral.

Wirral Domestic Abuse Strategy

For professionals the WSCB has also published its Responding to Children and Young People who are at Risk from Domestic Violence and Abuse – Policy and Guidance document. This is available on the WSCB procedures website and can be accessed here:

HM Government multi-agency statutory guidance on FGM (published April 2016):

Multi-agency Statutory Guidance on FGM

Tools for Assessing Domestic Violence and Abuse

Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Honour-based violence – Risk Identification Checklist (DASH or RIC) – tool to help identify adult victims of domestic violence and abuse

When would you use it?

  • “A woman seems to be being stalked by her ex-partner. It appears he has been harassing her and there are domestic abuse concerns – does he pose a risk to her?”
  • There is evidence of potential domestic abuse within a household, is it significant?

What is it?

  • The purpose of the Dash risk checklist is to give a consistent and simple tool for practitioners who work with adult victims of domestic abuse in order to help them identify those who are at high risk of harm and whose cases should be referred to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) meeting in order to manage their risk. The score provides evidence required to refer to Family Safety Unit.
  • Whilst domestic abuse is most often perpetrated by men towards women in an intimate relationship such as boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, this checklist can also be used for lesbian, gay, bisexual relationships and for situations of ‘honour’-based violence or family violence.
  • If you are concerned about risk to a child or children, following the completion of a DASH you should make a referral to ensure that a full assessment of their safety and welfare is made.


Barnardo’s Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix (DV RIM) – tool to help assess the risk to children from impact of domestic abuse between adults

The tool enables practitioners to assess the level of risks to children from male and female domestic abuse. The sheet contains a list of risk factors, vulnerabilities and protective factors which helps practitioners recognise whether a child is at moderate, serious or severe risk.


Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) – support for victims

dom-abuse03A MARAC is a multi-agency meeting which has the safety of high risk victims of domestic abuse as its focus. It involves the participation of all the key statutory and voluntary agencies who may be involved in supporting a person experiencing domestic abuse.

In Wirral support is most frequently provided by the Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) based within the Family Safety Unit. The IDVA is a specialist advisor who has received accredited training to work with high risk victims of domestic abuse from the point of crisis.

The MARAC will identify “high risk” victims/survivors of domestic violence, and will offer professional support and guidance, which will reduce the threat of further harm and repeated domestic violence to the victim/survivor and their immediate family members.

Referral – All WSCB partner agencies have a designated point of contact for the Wirral MARAC. Where domestic abuse is disclosed or suspected the point of contact in each agency will follow the Domestic Abuse referral pathway to ensure appropriate action is taken to safeguard individuals and refer into MARAC.

Domestic Abuse Campaigns

dom-abuse04Having a Zero Tolerance to Domestic Abuse is an aim of the partnership in Wirral through the Wirral Council’s 2020 Vision. The WSCB and partner agencies are currently supporting the Be a Lover not a Fighter campaign which has been promoted through social media, with advertising material in partner agencies and through high profile public advertising such as messages on buses and in the press.

Key messages from the campaign can be seen throughout this page.

Two learning posters about Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence for professionals are included here:

Forced Marriage
Honour Based Violence

Click on the picture below for a seven minute briefing on coercive control:

Domestic Abuse Training for Professionals

The WSCB recently updated the multi-agency Domestic Abuse training available for all professionals in the children’s workforce. Details of the full day training course including dates and how to apply can be found here:

Training Courses