A boy's hand thrust forward towards the camera

Domestic abuse

Prolonged or regular exposure to domestic abuse can have a serious impact on a child’s development and emotional well-being as well as his or her physical safety. As such it is one of the potential causes of significant harm to children which may warrant the use of the child protection procedures.

The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) recognises children who live in a home where domestic abuse takes place as victims in their own right, rather than as witnesses. The act will recognise a child who sees or hears, or experiences the effects of domestic abuse, and who is related to the person being abused or the perpetrator is also to be regarded as a victim of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is likely to have a damaging effect on the health and development of children, and it will often be appropriate for these children to be regarded as children in need.

Normally one serious or several lesser incidents of domestic abuse where there is a child in the household would indicate that Children’s Social Care may need to be informed to consider carrying out a single assessment of the child and the family.

Any response by any agency to an incidence of domestic abuse should be discreet in terms of making contact with victims. Standard letters should not be sent as this could further endanger the victim or their children. Refuge addresses should not be disclosed by any agency and, the P.O. Box number should be used in all correspondence. Refuge telephone numbers can be given to victims of domestic abuse.

See the North Yorkshire and City of York Domestic Abuse Strategy.

Top of page

The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) sets out the legal definition of Domestic Abuse.

"Behaviour of a person (“A”) towards another person (“B”) is domestic abuse if A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other, and the behaviour is abusive.

"Behaviour is abusive if it consists of any of the following:

  • physical or sexual abuse
  • violent or threatening behaviour
  • controlling or coercive behaviour
  • economic abuse
  • psychological, emotional or other abuse

"It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

"Economic abuse means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on B’s ability to acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or obtain goods or services."

You can view the full definition of domestic abuse within the Domestic Abuse Act (2021).

Child and adolescent to parent violence and abuse (CAPVA) can also involve children under 16.

Top of page

Controlling or coercive behaviour is now a recognised form of domestic abuse and an offence.

Controlling or coercive behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of behaviour which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another.

Such behaviours might include:

  • isolating a person from their friends and family
  • depriving them of their basic needs
  • monitoring their time
  • monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware
  • taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep
  • depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services
  • forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities
  • preventing a person from having access to transport or from working

Professionals should be able to recognise all forms of domestic abuse, including coercive and controlling behaviour; they should know how to respond sensitively, without escalating risks for victims.

Top of page

Children may suffer from witnessing or hearing the ill treatment of another in circumstances of domestic abuse.

There is a need to balance the information and use your professional judgement as to whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. If you are unsure as to whether an enquiry should be made to Children’s Social Care you must consult with your agency lead for child protection and/or contact the MASH team in regard to concern about a child.

You can contact the MASH Team on telephone: 01904 551900.

Top of page

The MATAC (Multi Agency Tasking and Coordination) identifies, through the use of analytics, the most dangerous perpetrators of domestic abuse in our county.

Working with partner agencies, MATAC will deliver a combination of support, prevention, diversion, disruption and enforcement through a range of criminal justice sanctions and other interventions. The key aims are preventing further domestic abuse related offending, improving victim safety and changing offender behaviour.

Top of page

The Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) is a meeting attended by agencies to discuss cases of domestic violence that professionals consider to be ‘high risk’.

The purpose of the MARAC is so that all the agencies involved in helping victims can agree how best to offer protection, this could include:

  • fitting alarms
  • offering alternative accommodation
  • referring to local specialist support services

Agencies that attend MARACs include the police, housing, social care, health and local specialist support services.

MARACs for York take place twice weekly, with referral forms available to support agencies to capture the most relevant information, which will be used to inform whether a case needs to be heard at MARAC.

The MARAC Referral Form and the MARAC Research Form can be downloaded from the North Yorkshire Police website:

Any referrals which are contentious will be considered virtually by a panel consisting of representation from North Yorkshire Police, local specialist support services and relevant agencies involved in the case.

Top of page

Operation Encompass is a unique police and education early intervention safeguarding partnership which supports children and young people exposed to domestic abuse.

It involves the police reporting to schools before the start of the next school day when a child or young person has been involved or exposed to a domestic abuse incident the previous evening. The information is given in strict confidence to a school’s Key Adult to enable support to be given dependent on the needs and wishes of the child.

Top of page

See details of York services for children and young people, including information about Domestic Abuse Joint Commissioned Services.

Top of page

IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services)

  • IDAS Helpline: 03000 110 110
  • Live chat is available via the IDAS website: idas.org.uk

Foundation +Choices perpetrator behaviour change programme

National 24 hour domestic abuse helpline

  • Telephone: 0808 2000 247

Domestic abuse: how to get help

NSPCC Domestic Abuse resources

Safe Lives - Ending Domestic Abuse

Top of page