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Domestic Abuse and Violence

Domestic abuse is defined as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, co-ercive, 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”. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Domestic abuse can also include forced marriage and so-called “honour crimes”.

Controlling and co-ercive behaviour

Domestic abuse is often thought of as physical, such as hitting, slapping or beating, but it can also be controlling or co-ercive behaviour. This is important as what might look like an isolated incident of violent abuse could be taking place in a context of controlling or co-ercive behaviour.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or independent 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.

Co-ercive 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.

We know that the first incident reported to the police or other agencies is rarely the first incident to occur; often people have been subject to violence and abuse on multiple occasions before they seek help.

Safeguarding children exposed to domestic abuse

Children who live in families where there is domestic abuse can suffer serious long-term emotional and psychological effects. Even if they are not physically harmed or do not witness acts of violence, they can pick up on the tensions and harmful interactions between adults. Children of any age are affected by domestic violence and abuse. At no age will they be unaffected by what is happening, even when they are in the womb.

The physical, psychological and emotional effects of domestic abuse on children can be severe and long-lasting. Some children may become withdrawn and find it difficult to communicate. Others may act out the aggression they have witnessed, or blame themselves for the abuse. All children living with abuse are under stress.

Professionals should:

  • Consider the presence of domestic abuse as an indicator of the need to assess a child’s need for support and protection
  • Make sure the child’s experiences and views are captured and included. In contexts where the safety of the adult victim is seen as the main priority this can dominate people’s immediate thinking and action, and children’s voices can be lost.  The Lets Talk toolkit will help capture the voice of the child.

Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse:

Adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA) may also be known as Adolescent to Parent Violence (APV) or Child to Parent Violence (CPV). There is currently no legal definition of APVA however, it is increasingly recognised as a form of domestic violence and abuse and, depending on the age of the child, it may fall under the government’s official definition of domestic violence and abuse. For further information and guidance for professionals on how to respond please see the Home Office information guide.

Information update on the new referral process for victims of domestic violence and abuse

From 4th April 2018 there will be a number of changes including:

  • Stop Domestic Abuse (SDA) will take over the contract to provide outreach support for victims of DVA assessed at medium risk, provide refuge provision, group work for victims and from 1st May dedicated support service for children and young people
  • The Early Intervention Project are changing their name. The service is still a Portsmouth City Council service but will be called the Portsmouth IDVA Project (PIP) to reflect their primary role in supporting high risk victims of DVA
  • Referring agencies need to identify the level of risk (using the DASH or providing evidence of professional judgement) and refer to the appropriate service. Please see the attached:

All this information will also be on the SPP website:

For further information

See the Domestic Violence information in our 4LSCB procedures


Support services for information

Services to support families in Portsmouth affected by domestic abuse

Portsmouth IDVA Project (PIP)

UP2U Leaflet