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Safeguarding: Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse is defined as a pattern of controlling, coercive, threatening or violent behaviour between family members or partners (even after a relationship has ended) and may include psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, not just violence.

Controlling behaviour can/may involve:

  • Isolating someone from sources of support
  • Exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain
  • Depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape
  • Regulating their everyday behaviour to make them subordinate and/or dependent.

Coercive behaviour is defined as: an act or a pattern of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse, used to harm, punish, or frighten.

Exposure to domestic abuse can have a serious, long-lasting emotional impact on children and they are likely to be at increased risk of other types of abuse.

It can sometimes be difficult to spot domestic abuse, as it occurs within the confines of the home between trusted family members; children may not disclose incidents of domestic abuse if they:

  • Have been told not to tell
  • Are afraid of getting family members into trouble
  • Blame themselves for the abuse.

Understanding the signs of domestic abuse

Some of the following signs may be possible indicators that a child is living with domestic abuse:

  • Aggression or withdrawal
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Nightmares or insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating at school
  • Frequently missing from care, home or education
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Eating disorders or self-harm.

Operation Encompass

Operation Encompass operates in Kent and helps police and schools work together to provide emotional and practical help to children. The system ensures that when police are called to an incident of domestic abuse, where there are children in the household who have experienced the domestic incident, the police will inform the key adult (usually the designated safeguarding lead) in school before the child or children arrive at school the following day. This ensures that the school has up to date relevant information about the child’s circumstances and can enable support to be given to the child according to their needs.