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Domestic Abuse

Birmingham Safeguarding Children Partnership

Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship. It can seriously harm children and young people and witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse. Visit the NSCPCC website to find out more.

Did you know?

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 states that domestic abuse can occur not only between two people in an intimate relationship, but those who are personally connected. For example, two people in a parental relationship, siblings or other relatives.

We have created a 7-minute briefing on ‘Domestic Abuse and Connected Persons who are not in an intimate relationship’:

Domestic abuse touches the lives, directly or indirectly, of most people in Birmingham. The sheer scale of domestic abuse causes untold harm to individuals, children and families, communities and damages the social fabric of the city.

Read the Domestic Abuse Prevention Strategy 2018-2023 .

West Midlands Domestic Violence & Abuse Standards September 2015

Birmingham Violence Against Women and Children Steering Group and Birmingham Safeguarding Children Partnership have endorsed the following best practice in working with children who are affected by domestic abuse:

  • Do remember that your initial response is extremely important. Validate what the child is telling you, ensure they know that you are listening and that you believe what you are being told. Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you and that domestic abuse is not their fault.
  • Do be honest with the child from the outset; explain the limitations to confidentiality to ensure that the child can control what they tell you. Explain what you will do and how you will record any information given.
  • Do ensure that the child feels comfortable talking to you; give them your name and encourage the child to contact you again in the future should they need to. If the child wants you to contact them make sure that you have a safe way of doing this before agreeing to do so.
  • Do use language that is appropriate to the child’s age and ability and ensure that you are not overloading the child with information. This is especially important when talking to children about confidentiality
  • Do listen for coded talking from children, don’t assume or expect they will name things in the way that you do
  • Do be trustworthy in your work with children, do what you say you are going to do, set and maintain boundaries around your work and don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Do allow the child to be in control wherever possible, offer choices, go at their pace; ask the child what they want to happen next and ask what you can do to help.
  • Do allow children to be children and don’t make them responsible for abusive behaviour.
  • Do prepare yourself for disclosures of abuse and domestic violence; be aware of other organisations who can offer support. Where appropriate give the child contact telephone numbers for them to access in their own time and ensure that you are aware of out-of-hours support in the event of an emergency.
  • Do be aware of the link between Domestic Abuse and Child Protection; be clear about your responsibilities with regard to child protection and ensure that the child understands what might happen.
  • Do be non-judgemental in your response to children; respond to each child’s individual needs and be aware that children’s experiences will differ depending on ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, or sexuality.
  • Do record any information you are given. This will validate what the child has told you and ensure continuity in support.
  • Do develop links with other agencies working in this field and make the most of networking opportunities.
  • Do be aware of your own and your own organisations limitations; seek advice from other professionals and acknowledge that other services may be more appropriate.
  • Do follow up any referral that you have made with the organisation and the child and ensure that the child understands what is going on throughout the process.
  • Do remember that often the best way to support children is to support the non-abusing parent/carer, who is usually mum.

It can be daunting for a child to disclose abuse because of the following fears and beliefs:

  • They may feel the abuse is their fault
  • They will get into trouble
  • Nobody will believe them
  • Nobody can stop it
  • The abuse will get worse
  • Their abuser will be sent to prison and it will be their fault
  • Their parent and other people they love will be hurt if they tell
  • They may feel the abuse is their fault
  • They told before and nobody listened
  • They will be taken into care
  • Their abuser has said that they will hurt them if they tell
  • They believe that this is what happens in families
  • They love their parent
  • They may blame their behaviour i.e. If I’m good they won’t do it again
  • They may believe that they are a bad child
  • They feel ashamed of what the abuser does

Where children have been more deeply emotionally affected by their experiences and need more intense support, the GP may consider a referral to the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Teams which aim to support, help and intervene with children and young people who are experiencing emotional and mental health problems.

Women’s Aid

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour freephone)

Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid

Helpline: 0808 800 0028

Rights of Women

Free confidential legal advice on family law, divorce and relationship breakdown, children and contact issues, domestic violence, sexual violence, discrimination, and lesbian parenting.

Legal Advice Line: 020 7251 6577

M.A.L.E: Men’s Advice Line & Enquiries

Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence whether in straight, gay, bisexual or transgender relationship.

Helpline: 0808 801 0327