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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, threatening or violent behaviour by one person towards another, they are over the age of 16 and are personally connect. For example, parents, ex partners or family members.

Behaviour is abusive if it involves any of the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse and rape
  • Emotional abuse
  • Violent and threatening behaviour
  • Isolation
  • Controlling behaviour and coercion (see more information about this below)
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Economic abuse and financial control
  • Forced marriage and honour based violence
  • Psychological and emotional abuse.

Abusive, coercive and threatening behaviour can take place online and in text messaging, for example. It does not have to be face to face.

Coercive behaviour is where abusive acts, such as threats, form a pattern of abuse which is used to punish or frighten another person.

An example of controlling behaviour is where one person tells another how to dress, or what to say. It may also include isolating them from sources of support.

Domestic abuse can consist of a single incident of a number of incidents.

Men and women can both be perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can occur within any type of relationship. It can take place when people live together or apart.

A child who sees, hears, experiences the effects of the abuse, will be a victim of domestic abuse.

Children can suffer long-term harm from living in a household where domestic abuse is taking place. Experiencing the mistreatment of another person is likely to be regarded as evidence that a child has suffered significant harm.

Domestic abuse can also include child to child violence. Or child to adult abuse. Contact details for specialist organisations who may be able to offer advice and support about this can be found in the Child abuse, bullying and exploitation section of our Useful links page.

Coercive behaviour is where abusive acts, such as threats, form a pattern of abuse which is used to punish or frighten another person.

For more information including FAQs for Mothers and for Fathers about Domestic Abuse, see our advice pages:

Domestic abuse

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