Introducing the theme of the mini-site - domestic violence
So what exactly counts as domestic violence?
How could you, as an undergraduate student, help respond to it as a volunteer?
What paid roles could you aspire to after your degree (and in some cases further study)?
The following material, written by Damian Carnell and Kerry Sullivan from Nottinghamshire Domestic Violence Forum, will give you an introductory overview of the problem and some ideas about how to be involved in responding to it...
This is useful background information for the skills development material you'll find elsewhere in the site.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is any abusive behaviour perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner to control and dominate a current or ex-partner.
Domestic Violence can be perpetrated on men by female partners and can also occur in same sex relationships.
The majority of domestic violence is, however, perpetrated on women by male partners or ex-partners.
Research shows that women experience more domestic violence than men and experience more frequent, more severe and more prolonged abuse. Women generally experience significantly more fear. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological and financial.
Examples of these forms of abuse are listed below. There are many other forms of abuse that could be added.
Physical Abuse: punching, kicking, pinching, slapping, burning, scalding, throttling, driving dangerously, with-holding medication, with-holding sleep or food.
Sexual Abuse: rape, sexual assault, being forced to watch or look at pornography, using sexually degrading words, using emotional threats and coercion for sex.
Emotional/Psychological Abuse: put downs, name calling, mind games, threat and intimidation, stalking, manipulation, isolation, minimisation, blame and denial.
Financial Abuse, withholding money, running up debt, controlling financial matters, unfairly criticising use of money.
Using children to control a partner/ex-partner: using children as spies, making children hear or see abuse, manipulating children, mind games with children, threats to the children, direct abuse to children when they intervene. Domestic violence is a safeguarding children matter; living with domestic violence will have a negative impact upon children in the household whether they are directly witnessing the abuse or not.
Using pets to control a partner/ex-partner: Perpetrators may also use pets in the family to further abuse, intimidate or maintain power over the survivor. This may include threats to kill or maim or actually killing or maiming pets in order to make the survivor stay or return.
A person living with domestic violence may experience one, all, or multiples of these types of abuse. Someone living with domestic violence does not necessarily have to be physically assaulted to live in fear and be defined as a victim or survivor of domestic violence. Abuse can involve the use and abuse of other family members to maintain power and control.
The Home Office now includes Forced Marriage, so-called Honour Based Violence, Female Infanticide and Female Genital Mutilation as part of the wider domestic violence definition and many agencies, including the Police, are incorporating these issues into their strategies, policies and interventions. Intra-family violence can also come within the domestic violence definition.
What organisations get involved with domestic violence issues and what do they do?
Police - They will provide an initial response to domestic violence incidents that are reported to them. Police Policy states that where they receive a report of domestic violence they should attend the scene of the crime. This may lead to the perpetrator being removed from the scene and held in Police custody. The survivor will be given information about support services. Most Police Divisions have Domestic Abuse Support Units (DASU) or Public Protection Units (PPU) which are responsible for providing a specialist police response to domestic violence. A member of that unit may make contact with the survivor with an offer of support and information about the legal procedures. They also will alert the perpetrator that they will be monitoring the risk of their re-offending.
Adult and Children's Social Care - Where children or vulnerable adults are living with serious domestic violence, Social Care may have a role in their protection. Living with domestic violence is a Safeguarding Children issue (previously known as child protection). When a professional comes into contact with a family with children and where domestic violence is an issue, they may need to alert Children's Social Care if they feel the children are at risk. Similarly, vulnerable adults protected by Adult Social Care may be at risk of domestic violence and professionals may need to make referrals through the Safeguarding Adults Procedures.
Health - People experiencing domestic violence may come into contact with Health Professionals in a variety of contexts:
G.Ps may be approached with long-term health problems or mental health issues that are the result of living with domestic violence.
Midwives and Health Visitors - in many areas they will ask every woman they visit whether they have experienced domestic violence. This is known as routine enquiry.
Accident and Emergency Departments - survivors with injuries may present to staff working in Emergency Departments.
Mental Health professionals - they may work with survivors of domestic violence for whom the trauma of living with abuse has resulted in mental health issues.
Probation - they may work with perpetrators of domestic violence, where the perpetrator is on Probation. This is often through an IDAP Programme (Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme). Contact will be made with the survivor of domestic violence by a Women's Safety Worker.
Domestic Violence Policy Officers and Co-ordinators - many Local Authorities employ Domestic Violence Policy or Strategy Officers and or Domestic Violence Co-ordinators. They will have a remit to co-ordinate and provide direction to the Local Authority's response to domestic violence and provide guidance on it to the members.
Provision of refuge space - Refuge is safe, confidential accommodation for women and men escaping domestic violence. They will also employ support workers, and children's workers.
Provision of helpline support - In Nottinghamshire, for instance, there is a 24-hour helpline available to women needing to talk about the abuse they are experiencing. There are national help-lines for women (24 hr Women's Aid & Refuge partnership and men (MALE) and a specialist LGBT helpline (Broken Rainbow).
Provision of outreach support and floating support - This provision provides practical support to women and men living with domestic violence or to those who have escaped. Support can include help to find new accommodation, safety planning and referral to other agencies. Floating support is usually based mainly on housing. Outreach can include a wider variety of support including support whilst the survivor is still living with the perpetrator. Outreach workers may help to plan leaving, give practical and emotional support and assist with safety planning. Safety planning is taking practical measures to make living with domestic violence less risky. This might include the survivor trying to avoid rooms that have no exit doors when the perpetrator is being abusive.
Support to High Risk Survivors - Where a woman is at high risk of domestic violence she may access support from an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate. IDVAs also offer support through the Court process where the perpetrator is being prosecuted.
Pets Projects - pet fostering schemes have been set up by some Women's Aid Services to provide temporary accommodation for pets to enable women to leave abusive partners. As we saw earlier, pets are often used to maintain control or make the survivor go back to a relationship. Maintaining a relationship with the family's animals has been seen to improve the resilience and recovery of child survivors of domestic violence.
Preventative/ strategic/ policy/ campaigning and training work - Nottinghamshire Domestic Violence Forum, for example, helped set up and support local area domestic violence forums that could focus on strategic and policy developments in their own area. NDVF employs staff to carry out awareness and preventative work with young people in schools and other youth settings. These projects include information about healthy relationships, gender-based issues and equalities work. You can read about this work later in the site. NDVF has also developed a broad training programme of domestic violence issues and skills development. The training courses are open to professionals, volunteers and students alike. Finally NDVF also carries out public awareness through various creative campaign initiatives.
The Voluntary Sector agencies involved in the delivery of domestic violence work will vary from area to area but commonly they will include: Women's Aid, Victim Support and Refuge, Perpetrator Programmes as well as Housing Associations. Women's Aid is an overarching body that provides guidance, principles and standards of practice to the Domestic Violence Sector. Members will sign up to the principles of good practice.