This month we are looking at quite a big issue in the HSC sector: domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is a repeated pattern of behaviour that often escalates in occurrence and severity over time.

The Home Office defines domestic violence and 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. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological (name calling, threats, isolation from friends or family, constant checks on where you are);
  • Physical (hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, throwing or smashing things, strangulation, choking, biting, pulling hair, cutting, stabbing, burning, drowning);
  • Sexual (making you do sexual things that you do not want to do, rape, refusal to practice safe sex, deliberate infliction of STIs);
  • Financial (taking money from you, not allowing you to have a job, checking what you spend money on, keeping you short of money);
  • Emotional (Constant criticism, using the children to convey threats, harming pets, making fun of you in front of their friends).

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.”

An estimated 1.2 million women experienced domestic abuse in 2017 (Office of National Statistics, 2017), and an estimated 4.3 million women aged 16-59 have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 (ONS, 2018). 

It has been suggested that there is a large link between violence of a partner and the abuse of children, which means that a lot of the time domestic abuse can also involve children. This will mean that social workers must work to help both the victims of domestic abuse and their children at the same time. 

The general conclusion from many research projects is that a lot more training should be given to social workers to help victims of domestic abuse through their trauma, both during and after.

Most of this research suggests that the simple act of listening to victims and avoiding blame will help in the long run, especially helping with children in the victim’s care. However, if social workers fail to respond to victims appropriately it is more likely to lead to re-traumatisation.

Maybe you should take a think on how you would help support those who are victims of domestic abuse?

Useful links: 

Beacon’s Domestic Abuse poster is available for download with extra information and links here.