What is domestic abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse is defined 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; physical; sexual; financial; emotional.
Possible indicators of domestic abuse
A perpetrator of abuse doesn’t ‘look’ a certain way. Anyone, of any wealth, from any background, could be a perpetrator of domestic abuse. There is not one particular way that a perpetrator behaves so that you are be able to ‘spot’ their abusive behaviour, but there are certain indicators that should encourage you to have a discussion with the victim of the abuse, in a safe environment, separately from the suspected perpetrator.
Here are some possible indicators that abuse may be occurring. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and where you have a gut instinct that abuse is taking place, don’t ignore it:
- Are there injuries?
- Is the suspected perpetrator jealous and possessive?
- Do they humiliate or insult their partner/family member in front of you/others?
- Do they cut their partner/family member off from family and friends and try to isolate them? Do they prevent them from attending your appointments?
- Are they charming one minute and abusive the next? Do they have sudden changes of mood, like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?
- Do they control their partner’s/family member’s life, e.g. their money, who they see, what they should wear?
- Do they allow their partner/family member to speak at your appointments?
- Are you ever allowed to speak to the partner/family member on their own?
- Do they monitor their partner’s/family member’s movements?
- Does the suspected perpetrator consistently call/text whilst your appointment is taking place?
- Do they constantly criticise their partner/family member?
- Do they blame their partner/family member for the abuse?
- Do they verbally abuse their partner/family member?
- Do they use anger and intimidation to frighten their partner/family member and make them comply with demands?
- Do they tell their partner/family member they are useless and couldn’t cope without the suspected perpetrator?
- Has the suspected perpetrator threatened to hurt their partner/family member or people close to them if they leave?
- Does the partner/family member change their behaviour to avoid making the suspected perpetrator angry?
- Do they force their partner/family member to have sex?
A perpetrator of abuse will use a variety of techniques and behaviours in order to control their partner/family member. The perpetrator is completely in control of their actions and makes a choice to be abusive. The perpetrator may use excuses to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, such as ‘it’s only when I drink’ or ‘she winds me up’. The victim may also use these excuses to justify their partner’s/family member’s behaviour.
The only person to blame for the abusive behaviour is the perpetrator. The only person who can stop the abusive behaviour is the perpetrator. It is therefore never appropriate to suggest ‘couple’s counselling’, because the abuse is not a ‘relationship’ problem. It is the perpetrator’s abusive behaviour that is the problem.
What do I do if someone discloses domestic abuse?
The abuse has probably been going on for longer than your involvement with the family. You may be the first person who the victim has disclosed any information to. So always believe them and treat them with dignity.
Please refer to the section Safeguarding children affected by domestic abuse and violence within the London Child Protection procedures and the Lambeth Threshold document to aid the decision to refer to Children's Social Care.
Ask the victim if they would like support from the Gaia centre. If they do, complete the referral form with them and send it to: email@example.com. Or they can call the Gaia centre directly on 0207 733 8724.
Is there help for the perpetrator?
Yes. Respect have a helpline for anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards their partner 0808 802 4040
If you are worried about a child, contact the Integrated Referral Hub:
- Professionals' Line: 020 7926 3100
- Public Line: 0207 926 5555 (24 hours)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (secure email)
If you are a professional, please always follow up your referral in writing by filling in the Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF) and forward it to the email address above.
If a child is at immediate risk of significant harm, please dial 999
The Gaia Centre - information and support for victims of gender-based violence
Respect - information and helpline for perpetrators of domestic violence
National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline 0300 999 5428 - Helpline providing specialist confidential support to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) communities, their family and friends, and agencies supporting them
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Co-ordinator in Lambeth - Sophie Taylor tel: 020 7926 4878