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Domestic Abuse


Domestic Abuse is "Any incident of controlling, coercive, 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”. In nine out of ten cases, children are in the same or next room when the violence is going on and so the domestic abuse impacts on their wellbeing.

How does it affect children?

Children are affected in many ways by abuse, even after a short time. These effects include: feeling frightened, becoming withdrawn, bedwetting, running away, aggressiveness, behavioural difficulties, problems with school, poor concentration and emotional turmoil. The longer children are exposed to abuse, the more severe the effects on them are.

  • Domestic violence may teach children to use violence
  • Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways
  • Where there is domestic abuse, there is often child abuse
  • Children will often blame themselves for domestic abuse
  • Alcohol misuse is a very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families
  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic abuse

Coercive Control  

Coercive behaviour is a continuing 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 form of domestic abuse will have a detrimental impact on children living in this environment.

Coercive control is a criminal offence. It is behaviour designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploitating them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a fine or both.

Adolescent to Parent Violence (APV) / Child to Parent Violence (CPV)

Adolescent to Parent Violence (APV) or Child to Parent Violence (CPV) can be defined as ‘abusive behaviour perpetrated by a son or daughter (who is legally recognised as a child and is most likely still living in the family home) against a parent.

Abusive behaviours which are recognised to be involved in APV include but are not limited to, threats, name calling, humiliation, threats to harm themselves or others, property damage, physical violence and theft (Holt, 2015).

APV is not restricted to violence by an adolescent against a parent; it extends to violence against a family member who is acting as a parent i.e. common-law in-laws, foster family, grandparents, aunt or uncle. It must be acknowledged that there is the potential for APV to occur even when the adolescent does not live in the same property as their parents.

Female Genital Mutilation 

FGM is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, for non-medical reasons. It's also known as female circumcision or cutting, but has many other names. FGM can occur at different times in a girl or woman’s life, including:

  • when a baby is new-born
  • during childhood or as a teenager
  • just before marriage
  • during pregnancy

It's illegal in the UK and is child abuse. It is very painful, can seriously harm the health of women and girls and can cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health. Further information on the signs of FGM, effects and who is at risk can be found here .

HRDA (High Risk Domestic Abuse):

HRDAs are meetings that are chaired by the Police/MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) with agencies in attendance and takes place every Tuesday and Thursday. Most high risk new referrals are discussed to ensure families affected by domestic abuse receive a timely response and any interventions can be put in place as soon as possible and referred onto MARAC if deemed appropriate.

MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference):

MARAC is a monthly meeting where information is shared on the highest risk domestic abuse cases, with representatives from Police, Health, Social Care, Housing, IDVA's (to represent the victim) and other specialists. The information is used to make a plan to keep the victim safe, safeguard any children and manage the behaviour of the perpetrator. 
Any professional can complete a MARAC referral and this will ensure a timely response for support and safety for the victim. How to refer a case to MARAC

Domestic Abuse Forum (DAF)

The IOW Domestic Abuse Forum provides leadership in the areas of domestic abuse to ensure shared strategic objectives and joint approach across all services and sectors promoting multi agency working, collective decision-making and comprehensive information sharing and data collection.

The DAF falls under the Community Safety Partnership and includes membership from a number of agencies. 

Isle of Wight domestic abuse services  

The IOW Domestic Abuse Referral Pathway provides a clear visual pathway on how to respond to a domestic abuse disclosure and the services that are available to signpost too and the support that is available. Further information on domestic abuse and services available can be found on the Isle of Wight Council website. National organisations can be found on our Organisations that can help webpage.


Paragon is the Isle of Wight’s domestic abuse and sexual crime service provider. They also provide support and services to parents and carers who are experiencing child to parent violence. Abuse can be reported on 0800 234 6266 (free) or ParagonIOW@theyoutrust.org.uk

The Hampton Trust provide a range of services for perpetrators to encourage healthy, non-abusive relationships. To make referrals or to share intelligence for tracking and disruption purposes contact the perpetrator service on 02380 009898. Alternatively call their front door services on 0800 234 6266 or isva@hamptontrust.org.uk


Who's In Charge is a nine week group programme delivered by Barnardo's Family Centre staff, for parents and carers who have a child aged 8-18 who currently appear to be beyond parental control or who uses violent and abusive behaviour toward them.


Children & Young People Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (C&YPISVA) support boys and girls (between 11-17) following an experience of rape or sexual assault. They specialise in looking after young people who have suffered any unwanted sexual experience, regardless of when the incident happened, if you have reported to the police, or other characteristics such as gender or sexuality. Contact the service on 07435996248 or isva@hamptontrust.org.uk


Talk2 is a counselling service for children and young people, providing therapeutic help and support for emotional health and wellbeing. The service is operating and delivering face to face counselling sessions, working from the Barnardo’s family’s centres.


Reducing Parental Conflict - There is growing evidence that shows parental conflict puts children's mental health and long term outcomes at risk when it is frequent, intense and poorly resolved.


Dragonfly Project  - Become a Champion, receiving training to speak with confidence about domestic abuse and offer guidance to those experiencing it. You will be provided with on-going specialist support from Paragon.


Operation Encompass
Operation Encompass is an information sharing partnership between police and schools in order for schools to offer immediate support for children/young people experiencing domestic abuse. After officers attend a domestic abuse incident, Information is shared by police to a trained Key Adult (DSL) at the child's school prior to the start of the next school day. This enables appropriate support to be given to the child.

Children experiencing domestic abuse are negatively impacted by this exposure; domestic abuse has been identified as an Adverse Childhood Experience and can lead to emotional, physical and psychological harm. Operation Encompass aims to mitigate this harm by enabling immediate support. Further information can be found here

Domestic Abuse, Stalking and 'Honour' based violence (DASH) checklist 
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 MARAC meeting in order to manage their risk.
DASH training and further information is available from Paragon: tracey.jackson@theyoutrust.org.uk

The interplay between domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health in families:

Research shows that each of these issues can have damaging consequences for the wellbeing and outcomes of children; and where these issues are present together, they can indicate increased risk of harm to children.

  • Domestic and sexual abuse – most common cause of depression and other mental health difficulties in women.
  • Women who have experienced at least one form of gender-based abuse are at least 3 times more likely to be substance dependent
  • Survivors of domestic abuse may be experiencing mental ill health as a result of their experience and their coping mechanisms may include the use of substances.
  • Research typically finds around half of those who perpetrate domestic abuse have been drinking at the time of assault, although in some studies this figure is higher.
  • Parenting ability may be affected by all three issues so safety of children must be a priority however the greatest risk of harm comes from the perpetrator. Non-abusing parents need support, not to be blamed / held accountable for perpetrator’s actions
  • Acknowledge that experiences of trauma can impact on mental health and that substance use is a common coping strategy. Avoid blaming victims and making them feel stigmatised. Their actions have been part of their coping mechanisms – they have been focused on survival
  • Experiencing a traumatic event either in childhood or as an adult is a common starting point for mental ill-health and substance use

When working with families where there are domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health issues, the needs of children must be prioritised – we must not allow needs of the parent to distract us from the needs of the child.