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Safeguarding : Procedure on working with Domestic Abuse

The Church is committed to helping those who are victims/survivors of domestic abuse. There is growing awareness in society of the extent of domestic abuse and recognition that domestic abuse is a crime, not a private matter to be kept in the family or community, and that it affects all of those who are within the family, including the children of the abuser and the abused.

Definition of Domestic abuse

The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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


Controlling behaviour

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

Coercive 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. This is not a legal definition.

Domestic abuse and young people

The definition of domestic abuse now includes 16 and 17 year olds, and has raised awareness that young people in the 16 to 17 age group can also be victims of domestic violence and abuse.

People experience domestic abuse regardless of their social group, class, ethnicity, age, disability or sexuality.

Responding Well to Domestic Abuse and Violence

If a victim discloses abuse, it is important to:

  1. Respect and listen and believe the violence and abuse.  Assure the victim it is not their fault and outline the issues around confidentiality.

  2. In relation to confidentiality, it is not possible to respect this when someone is being hurt and a criminal offence has been committed, someone is in danger, and when children are involved.

  3. If there are children involved, child protection procedures need to be followed.

  4. If the victim is in immediate danger, be aware that intervention may heighten risk issues, but it is important to explore how to ensure people are safe.  If children are involved, a referral needs to be made, and if it is possible to encourage the victim to make the referral themselves, perhaps supporting them through the process. 

  5. Outline relevant resources and information and ensure that these are known to the victim.

  6. Record the incident and keep it confidential.

  7. Share the incident with someone who can support you and can help to think through the issues and action.

  8. Offer other opportunities to meet and talk to the victim, and ensure that there is appropriate contact.

  9. Review the safety and risk issues in relation to the perpetrator if they and the victim are in the same Church.

  10. If the victim/perpetrator is a staff member, senior volunteer, Church Trustee, please talk to the Safeguarding Lead immediately.


Child Protection Framework

This process must be adhered to, and action taken, if there are children – anyone under the age of 18 – in the household and affected by domestic abuse and violence.  It is recognised that it can be difficult to make a referral, which can be with or without the permission of the victim.  Local Authority Social Work Departments are much more aware of the issues and sensitivities in relation to domestic abuse and violence, and will ensure that they operate with professionalism and an awareness of the situation.  Nevertheless, it is important that they are aware of the information concerning domestic abuse and violence, so that they can act on it appropriately.  It is not the role of the Church, nor anyone employed within the Church, to investigate the issues and incidents – only Social Services and the Police have these statutory powers. 

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