If you know or suspect that Domestic Violence is taking place in a household where children live, those children may be at risk of Significant Harm.
What is Domestic Violence?
The Government definition of Domestic Violence (DV) widened in Sept 2012 to include 16-17 year olds and the title of the definition to Domestic Violence and Abuse.
The Government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
The Government definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called 'honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
For more information, please read the Information for Local Areas on the change to the Definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse (PDF 169KB)
Risk and Impact of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence (DV) is a serious risk factor for all children in a household. DV is increasingly a factor in adolescent relationships as well. The number of cases subject to a Serious Case Review where DV is a factor is increasing year on year.
In a recent study on Serious Case Reviews across the country, Marion Brandon noted that "the mention of DV permeated all types of reviews concerning babies, children and adolescents" Brandon et al, 'Understanding Serious Case Reviews and their Impact; A Biennial Analysis of SCRs 2005-2007 (PDF, 504Kb).
DV has been a feature of all Serious Case Reviews conducted in Haringey since 2008.
Parents and professionals can minimise the impact of DV on children, especially when the children are young. In fact, research shows that younger children are likely to be exposed to more DV than older children, and they are less able to process it.
The impact of domestic violence is usually on every aspect of a child’s life, although it will vary according to the child’s resilience and the strengths and weaknesses of his / her particular circumstances.
Impact on Unborn Children
In almost a third of cases, domestic violence begins or escalates during pregnancy and it is associated with increased rates of miscarriage, premature birth, foetal injury and foetal death.
Impact on Young Children
Younger children tend to show physical symptoms like stomach aches, sleep problems and bed-wetting as a result of DV. This age group will also be most affected at the level of brain development and developmental delay.
Impact on School-Age Children
School-age children may start to display challenging behaviour. The impact of domestic violence in this group tends to show in emotional and behavioural symptoms.
Impact on Young People
Young people experiencing domestic violence tend to use coping mechanisms such as substance misuse, early pregnancy, running away, crime and violence.
The three central imperatives of any intervention for children living with domestic violence are:
- To protect the child/ren, including unborn child/ren;
- To empower the mother to protect herself and her child/ren;
- To hold the abusive partner accountable for his violence and provide him with opportunities to change.
Assessment and Safety Planning
Where professionals are concerned about the care a child is receiving or about a mother’s parenting, the presence of domestic violence should be considered.
Professionals should make contact with the mother first and in a way which prioritises her safety, unless there are immediate risks of harm to the child/ren. Giving or sending written materials to a mother or children may jeopardise their safety.
The parent experiencing the violence will usually, but not always, be well placed to predict the risks he/she faces and the likelihood of further violence. Practitioners should nevertheless be aware that abused parties can underestimate the risk of harm to themselves and their children from domestic violence abusers.
The abused parent should be encouraged and / or helped to complete a personal risk assessment.
Support for Victims of Domestic Violence in Haringey
|National Domestic Violence Helpline
||0808 2000 247 (24hrs)
|Haringey Police Community Safety Unit
||020 8345 1941
|Haringey Victim Support
||020 8888 9878
Haringey Domestic Violence Advice & Support Centre
|020 8888 5362 Monday to Friday 10am - 4pm
Hearthstone in Haringey provides survivors of domestic violence in Haringey with access to all the support they will need in one place.
The centre brings together:
- Housing officers
- Victim Support volunteers
- Police Community Safety officers
- Staff from the council's Equalities and Diversity unit
Read more about Hearthstone (external link).