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I don’t see what happened between me and my partner as a ’domestic abuse’ situation, it was a one off. Why are children’s services concerned?

There may be many different signs of a domestically abusive relationship including physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include psychological abuse. Witnessing emotional abuse can be very traumatic for a child yet this can be minimised and overlooked – even by those involved. It is not always easy to identify. But it can be just as harmful as other forms of abuse.

See our Emotional abuse page for more information.

Children services departments are responsible for:

  • Supporting children and families
  • Protecting vulnerable children.

They have general legal duties to provide any child in need and their families with extra help (see section 17(1) of the Children Act 1989). And to take steps to help keep children safe if they are thought to be at risk of harm (see section 47 of the Children Act 1989).

Children can suffer long-term harm from living in a household where domestic abuse is taking place. So, if children’s services receive information about a child and concerns about domestic abuse they will decide:

  • Whether to start an assessment
  • What type of assessment it should be (for example, whether to focus on support or on child protection)
  • Whether the child needs any immediate support or protection.

If the information children’s services have makes them suspect a child has been harmed or is likely to suffer significant harm then they must investigate. This is called making child protection enquiries. They have to do this by law.

It is important that parents and carers understand what is meant by domestic abuse. And that they understand the ways in which children’s services might become involved. So for more information and advice see our Domestic abuse page. This includes FAQs for fathers and tailored FAQs for mothers about domestic abuse.

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