What is a Vulnerability Assessment?
Have you been referred for a vulnerability assessment and don't know what it is, what you will need to do and how it will affect your case? This post is designed to answer any questions clients may have about their referral to DV-ACT for a domestic abuse vulnerability assessment.
DV-ACT experts have worked for many years to develop domestic abuse assessments to provide expert advice to social services and the family courts. Where there are child protection concerns involving domestic or sexual abuse a mother can be referred to DV-ACT for a vulnerability assessment, either as a stand-alone assessment or alongside a risk assessment of the Father.
The primary concern in all of DV-ACT's assessments is to keep children safe from abuse, both from direct harm and also from any emotional harm that may come from living in a home where abuse is taking place.
What is a vulnerability assessment?
A vulnerability assessment aims to identify your vulnerability to future abuse, the impact the abuse had had on your parenting and your ability to assess risk and prioritise the safety of both yourself and your children. The assessment will also make recommendations for how any risks to you or your children can be managed in the future and give suggestions for further treatment like domestic abuse programmes or therapy.
Why have I been referred for an assessment?
Referrals to DV-ACT are made by children's social workers or solicitors in the family court when there are concerns about the safety of children from domestic or sexual abuse. You might be in court proceedings or your child/ren may have a social worker and have a child protection plan or a child in need. Cases are often referred to DV-ACT when they are more complex or if there are specific concerns around domestic and/or sexual abuse that could put children at risk.
What happens after the referral is made?
When DV-ACT receive the referral they will allocate the case to one of their expert assessors. The assessor will read the documentation in the case (this can include court paperwork, police reports, meeting minutes and case history) and contact you to arrange interview appointments. If you have been referred for an assessment alongside your partner/ex-partner they will be contacted separately, DV-ACT assessors will not meet with you together, even if you are still together.
Who will my assessor be?
DV-ACT assessors come from different backgrounds such as social work, probation or psychology, they are highly qualified and will have at least 10 years of experience working with domestic abuse victim/survivors and perpetrators. Some of our assessors have profiles available on our meet the team page.
What will happen at the appointments?
The assessor will want to interview you for 4-6 hours in total and will speak to you about whether you would like a longer or shorter appointment and what time is best for you. You must attend the appointments alone and you should not have children or babies with you. Please talk to your social worker in advance if you know you will need help with childcare. These interviews can take place using an interpreter if you need one, so please tell the assessor before the appointment in case they are unaware that you need one.
All of our appointments take place remotely using Zoom or another video calling app. The assessor will speak to you about how this can be completed safely and it would be helpful if you could; choose a room that has a good signal where you won't be interrupted, tell others in the home that you are not to be disturbed (sticking a sign on the door may help), arrange childcare or have plenty of activities for the children to do while you are on the call and use headphones (with headphones it is less likely that someone will be able to hear your conversation).
Your safety is important to us, so please talk to the assessor if you have any worries about the appointments that you think could put you at risk.
In the assessment interviews, the assessor will ask questions about incidents of domestic abuse, your background, both personally and within past and present relationships, and your response to the local authorities' or the courts concerns.
Are the interviews confidential?
To a certain extent the interviews are confidential, however, whatever you say to the assessor will be included in the assessment report which will be given to the referring social worker and, if you are in court proceedings, all the parties will receive a copy of the report. Speak to the assessor if you are worried about this.
What will happen after the interviews are completed?
When the assessor has completed all the interviews in the case they will write the assessment report which will include information from your interviews and from documentation supplied by the local authority or solicitors. This report will be sent to the referrer (usually the social worker or local authority) who will then share the report with you or send it to your solicitor.
If it is recommended that you attend the DV-ACT programme to reduce your vulnerability you may then be referred to complete our 1:1 programme, more details can be found in our post here.
If you have any further questions or concerns about your assessment please contact me, Claire Verney, I am the practice manager at DV-ACT and will be happy to help you. You can email me at email@example.com or call me on 0203 9678368.
If you would like to speak to someone about abuse that you have suffered you can call the domestic violence helpline on 0808 2000 247. Always call 999 in an emergency.
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.