FAQs on Domestic Violence for practitioners

This section of the website is for children's social workers and domestic violence practitioners. It provides some useful advice to help develop their knowledge and skills when working with mothers affected by domestic violence. It complements the online domestic violence advice available for mothers.

We have listened to what mothers tell us about how social work involvement impacts on them. In particular, we have considered what helps and what hinders their engagement. This advice is also informed by the queries and observations of domestic violence workers helping mothers involved with social workers.

We hope that this information will:

  1. Help social workers to develop a better understanding of, and be able to act on, the needs of families affected by domestic violence,
  2. Promote domestic violence practitioners’ confidence in advocating for mothers involved with Children’s Services and
  3. Help domestic violence practitioners support mothers to understand why social workers may need to be involved and how they can navigate the system and be heard in this process.

If you are a social worker or a domestic violence practitioner working with families where there is domestic violence you will find answers to some of the questions you may have in our:

What do we mean by domestic violence?

The working definition we have used is:

Domestic violence can involve physical or sexual abuse, rape, emotional abuse and isolation, coercion, threats, intimidation, economic abuse, financial control, forced marriage and honour-based violence. It can happen online as well as offline.

Women who experience domestic violence may have a range of responses to it - fear, anxiety, isolation, depression, drug or alcohol misuse are all common reactions – and too often they feel blamed.

Research shows that witnessing domestic violence can be very harmful for children. The damage it causes is specifically included in the legal definition of significant harm to a child.

Note on the language we have used: We refer to survivors of domestic violence as "the mother" or "she". We refer to the abuser or perpetrator as "the father" or "he". We have chosen to use this language because it reflects the situation in the majority of cases. However, we recognise that men can also be survivors of domestic violence and that domestic violence can occur in same sex couples.

The information we have provided generally applies to England and Wales. However, there are some differences in the law between England and Wales. If you live in Wales you could get local advice from a solicitor or Citizen's Advice Bureau.

Thank you to Trust for London for funding Family Rights Group to develop these advice resources.     trust-for-london-logo