6.4 Domestic Abuse
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This guidance applies to all professionals in Milton Keynes to:
- assist with safe and effective disclosures of domestic abuse
- promote access to specialist services and support
In 2020 this chapter was fully revised.
In April 2016, this chapter was amended to take into account The Serious Crime Act 2015 which created an offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships.
- 1. What is domestic abuse?
- 2. What are possible signs?
- 3. How can I help as a professional?
- 4. Referrals
- 5. Specialist Services
- 6. Training
- 7. Supporting legislation
1. What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer.
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:
Anyone can be a victim or perpetrator of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.
2. What are possible signs?
When a victim is not being seen alone, professionals should also be alert to the following combination of signals:
3. How can I help as a professional?
Key steps to follow to ensure you respond appropriately include:
This question should also be asked in ways that accommodate those with learning disabilities. For example: “Have you been upset because someone talked to you in a way that made you feel ashamed or threatened?”, “Has anyone hurt you/taken money belonging to you/upset you?”
There are barriers to victims disclosing abuse including fear of what will happen as a result and what your response as a professional will be. The victims may be unaware that their situation includes domestic abuse or where they can get help.
“What you are describing sounds like abuse”. “The abuse is not your fault”. “You have options and we can help you find support”.
Consider immediate risks, the specific support needs of the patient/client/service user, their capacity to make decisions in their own interest, and if they are at risk of serious injury or homicide. This might involve questions such as: “Is your home accessible without support from someone else? Is the person who is abusing you in possession of any medication you require?” Identifying someone’s immediate concerns, including for example finances, is also important.
To determine the level of risk (high, medium or standard), the DASH form and professional judgement are used. For organisations less familiar with domestic abuse, seek advice from a specialist service.
If you have a concern about an adult or child and they are in immediate danger you should contact the relevant emergency services by ringing 999.
If there is a child who may be impacted, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) needs to be notified. For safeguarding adults, a concern needs to be raised where the adult has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs).
This link has online forms for safeguarding referrals: https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/safeguarding-people-at-risk
You should document domestic abuse within patient/client/service user records to ensure repeat incidents experienced by the survivor are more likely to be identified and ensure that survivors don’t have to repeat their story which can be re-traumatising. Keep clear, detailed notes with no conjecture in a secure location. Keep the patient/client/service user informed of what information you are writing down and who it might/will be shared with. All referrals, whether internal or external, should be followed up.
Signposting alone may not be effective since the victim will have limited opportunities to access support. Consider making a referral on the patient/client/service users’ behalf. Online referral forms can be accessed from Milton Keynes Council by clicking on the following link: https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/safeguarding-people-at-risk
5. Specialist Services
Organisations are responsible for requesting and receiving training. MK Act offers a multi-agency programme and individual sessions for teams. For details contact Training@mk-act.org
7. Supporting legislation
Clare’s Law to make enquiry on someone’s history if they may pose a risk. Details available at:https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/af/clares-law/
Serious Crime Act 2015 controlling and coercive behaviour became criminal offence. Controlling behaviour is behaviour that makes people subordinate or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, taking control of their resources and depriving them of their independence. Coercive behaviour includes acts of assault, threat, humiliation or intimidation that are used to harm, punish or frighten another person. Legal Advice can be sourced through MK-Act or NCDV or FlagDV.