Domestic Violence

Domestic violence and abuse is officially classified as 'any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members regardless of gender or sexuality.' One woman in three and one man in five will be a victim of domestic abuse during their lifetime. Domestic abuse is not just physical abuse, but can include emotional and psychological abuse, isolation of the patient from their support network as well as forced marriage and 'honour crimes.'

Always also consider whether there are children and young people who may be suffering as a result of domestic abuse. Contacts should be made with the relevant child safeguarding professionals.

When encountering suspected domestic abuse, it is important to follow these four key principals:

  • act: never assume someone else is addressing the issue
  • respect: it is not your role to comment on or encourage a person to leave their partner.
  • revisit: if a patient does not disclose, but you suspect otherwise, accept what has been said but offer other  opportunities to talk and consider giving information
  • share: information appropriately subject to policy and local guidance.

The department of health has produced and excellent and comprehensive summary guide, including a section on 'Asking the Question' which may be found in the links below. Healthcare professionals should ask advice from safeguarding leads on dealing with domestic abuse:

Useful helplines are listed below:

The NHS England Adult Safeguarding Network webpages provide additional excellent links and contacts with additional pages on topics not covered in these web pages. e.g. modern slavery.