What Can be Done to Help Families Living in Isolation With an Abuser?
With homes being kept in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic it is important that we help keep families safe who are living with domestic abuse.
An estimated 130,000 children in the UK are living in households with high risk domestic abuse. With workplaces and schools being closed, this will create an incredibly stressful situation for families, with no safe space available for children and victims to report concerns or for warning signs to be noticed by others. How can these families be kept self in lockdown?
The government launched their domestic abuse #YouAreNotAlone campaign on the 11th April to raise awareness, increase the publication of the national domestic abuse helpline and encourage members of the general public to show their support for those who may be suffering. A number of domestic abuse charities and organisations have continued to work hard during the lockdown to provide services to victims, perpetrators and vulnerable children.
This post has now been updated to contain further advice from DV-ACT experts and resources from leading charities and organisations.
Safety Planning - It is important that this is carried out with both perpetrator and victim with input from other professionals involved with the family and suitable others. For guidance on how to complete safety planning please visit our post how to complete safety planning with families.
Safety Rules - These should form part of the safety planning work and are rules aimed at reducing the risk of further violence in the home. It is important that these rules are clear and well known to the parents who agree to follow them as part of their safety plan. Further details of suggested safety rules are within our post what safety rules can parents follow to reduce the risk of harm from violence.
Safety Plan - This is an important tool for those families living with domestic abuse. The plan should help the victim identify options to limit the risk of harm to themselves and the children should further violence take place. A safety plan should be practical and completed with the victim and can include input from the children. Remember that those fleeing domestic abuse are exempt from the Government regulations on leaving or moving between households. Please visit our post what should a safety plan consist of.
Emergency Perpetrator Work - Emergency safety plans can also be completed with the perpetrator. As well as rules to follow, you can also encourage positive self-talk, staying active and using helplines, you can also talk about responsibility and respectful relationships. Read more in our post How to Create an Emergency Safety Plan for Domestic Abuse Perpetrators
Guidance for separated parents - When the UK government Coronavirus measures came into force on Monday 23 March they seemed to have forgotten about children who split their time between separated parents. Although Subsequent guidance was issued it still left many parents confused with questions about how contact should be arranged and when it should or should not go ahead. DV-ACT experts have decades of experience in families affected by domestic abuse giving expert advice to local authorities and the family court, using that experience we have put together guidelines on how separated parents can manage child contact during this crisis. Read this guidance in our post What is the Guidance for Separated Parents in the Coronavirus Crisis?
Helplines and Information - Helplines have become even more essential and are available for victims, perpetrators and children. There are also helplines available for parents who are suffering from child or adolescent to parent violence and for those suffering from elder abuse. Some helplines include a chat or texting service at various times of the day which may be helpful to research in advance and include in the safety plan if victims cannot talk freely. This should always be used in a way that ensures the victim is kept safe so it is important to include the details of specific services and how they can be used safely. Police 999 silent solution advice must also be given so that victims and children know what to do if they have to make a silent 999 call. Useful helplines, online support and details of the silent solution are provided at the bottom of this post.
We will keep our information updated if any further advice is released from other agencies.
Safety planning and safety rules are available on infographics, which can be printed from our resources page or contact us to receive copies via email or printed copies by post. For further advice on working with families affected by domestic abuse or if you would like more information on our risk assessment training or other services we provide please visit our site dvact.org or contact us to speak to one of our experts. DV-ACT are still completing expert assessments across the UK throughout this time with the entire assessment process taking place online.
ADCS - The ADCS (The Association of Directors of Children's Services) is keeping track of published guidance and new announcements from key government departments and agencies relating to children’s services. They are also tracking and sharing useful practice guidance and resources from sector bodies and organisations.
LGA - The LGA (Local Government Association) have produced a guide - Tackling domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic giving a brief overview of domestic abuse and how councils can provide help and support to domestic abuse victims during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tackle perpetrators’ abusive behaviour.
DfE - The DfE (Department for Education) has now published updated guidance for children's social care - Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services. The amendments are to regulations relating to: residential care, local authorities, private fostering, care planning, planning fostering and adoption made on 24 April 2020. The impact of the regulatory changes is explained throughout this guidance.
Helplines are available for both perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse as well as for children, parents struggling with abuse from children and elder abuse:
National Domestic Violence Helpline 24/7 – 0808 2000 247
Womens Aid online help for female victims (Monday to Friday 10:00am - 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-12:00pm) - https://chat.womensaid.org.uk
The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327
Mens advice online chat for male victims (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – 10 – 11am and 3 – 4pm) - https://mensadviceline.org.uk/contact-us/
Childline - 0800 1111
Childline online service for children or young people experiencing domestic abuse (9am-midnight) - www.childline.org.uk/get-support/1-2-1-counsellor-chat/
NSPCC helpline (Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm or 9am – 6pm at the weekends) - 0808 800 5000 Contact counsellors 24 hours a day by email or online reporting form email@example.com
Family Lives, a confidential helpline service for families in England and Wales (9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday) for emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life - 0808 800 2222
You can also email for support, advice and information at firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Minds Parents helpline (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm) - 0808 802 5544
Action on Elder Abuse helpline: 0808 808 8141
Respect helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse - 0808 8024040
The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994
National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
999 silent solution - In an emergency 999 should always be called, if the caller is unable to speak they need to press 55, but there is a procedure that needs to be followed and the limitations of this (ie that the police cannot track the caller when a mobile is used) need to be made clear - https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Documents/research-learning/Silent_solution_guide.pdf
Our experts have decades of experience working directly with domestic abuse perpetrators and victims, as specialist assessors and as expert witnesses in the family courts.
DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse, this is at the heart of everything that we do.