What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is defined across Government as any incident 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 their gender or sexuality. This includes, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse. Controlling and coercive behaviours are often at the core of domestic abuse.
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependant 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.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
Children and young people may
- Experience domestic abuse in a current or former family relationship / home
- Experience or use abusive behaviours in their own intimate relationships (all cases, including those under 16 years old, should follow the Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Pathway for Young People)
- Use abusive behaviours towards their parents, known as child on parent violence
The government definition of domestic abuse also includes so-called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. More information is available on the Harmful Practices page.
Understanding the impacts of domestic abuse
Experiencing domestic abuse is defined in legislation as harmful and abusive to children. Living with domestic abuse can profoundly disrupt a child’s environment, undermining their stability, and physical, mental and emotional health. This impact on the child is the result of the perpetrator’s decision to use abusive behaviours, and the tactics and impact of domestic abuse can interrupt the non-abusing parent/carer’s ability to provide care. As a result, the protection and empowerment of the non-abusing parent is fundamental to the protection of the children.
Because domestic abuse is driven by control, any changes may escalate the abuse and increase the risk faced by the non-abusing parent and child/ren. It is important, when intervening to protect a child, to consider how to best to undertake this safely in partnership with the non-abusing parent.
In cases involving domestic abuse it is essential that a DASH risk assessment for the non-abusing parent is undertaken alongside risk assessment frameworks for children.
Domestic Abuse Training
To find out more about available courses or to book a place, please see here
Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Services Helpline is the front door to specialist support in Oxfordshire. Contact the helpline on 0800 731 0055 (10am – 7pm, Monday to Friday). Agencies are encouraged to contact ODAS via email@example.com rather than through the helpline.
In an emergency please dial 999.
- SAFE! Support for young people – can offer 1:1 support for children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse
- Building Respectful Families – a group work programme for families where there is child on parent violence
Useful Links and Publications
The Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board has published a combined Serious Case Review and Domestic Homicide Review named ‘Child J’. The report and associated documents can be accessed on the case review page. The below document is a progress report on actions taken in Oxfordshire in response to the findings of this review. Child J – OSCB Progress Report
- Oxfordshire Adult Referral Pathway for Domestic Abuse
- Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Pathway for Young People
- Oxfordshire County Council’s information on Domestic Abuse
- Reducing the Risk Oxfordshire – Information for those affected and for professionals about all aspects of domestic abuse and resources in Oxfordshire
- OXME – Webpage on Domestic Abuse – Domestic abuse is when someone is being hurt or victimised by their partner, boyfriend or girlfriend
- Oxford Parent Infant Project (OXPIP): 01865 778034
Works with parents to help understand their relationships to their baby and supports parents who are uncertain about their parenting
- Oxford Family Information Service: 08452 262636
Providing information and support for children, young people and families in Oxfordshire
- South Lanarkshire Child Protection Committee: Good practice guidance on domestic abuse and the protection of children
- Disrespect Nobody – .gov website for young people
- The Hideout – Women’s Aid have created this space to help children and young people to understand domestic abuse, and how to take positive action
- BB4K – (Bounce Back for Kids) is a therapeutic group for children from 5 – 12 years of age who have experienced living within a family where domestic abuse has occurred. This often leads to behavioural issues and or physical, emotional and academic delay in the children