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About Domestic Violence and Abuse

Domestic violence and abuse is the abuse of someone within an family or intimate relationship (including ex-partners). It is the repeated, random and habitual use of intimidation to control a person.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, physical, coercive, emotional, psychological, harassment and stalking, online/digital, financial, economic or sexual. Anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s/ family member’s reaction is being abused.

Family members can be taken to mean parents, adult children, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles and step family.

The terms ‘domestic violence’ and ‘domestic abuse’ are often used interchangeably, so here we have ‘joined them together as it is felt to be a more inclusive way to describe a range of behaviours, which include violence as well as all other forms of abuse.

There is no specific offence of domestic violence or abuse under criminal law, but many forms of domestic violence and abuse are crimes.

Warwickshire agencies have adopted the (2013) government definition of domestic abuse:

“Domestic violence and abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional."

Controlling behaviour

"Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour."

Coercive behaviour

"Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

This definition includes so-called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. It is made clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

This definition recognises that past legal and cultural understanding of domestic abuse has been too narrowly focused on single physically violent incidents rather than complex and controlling patterns of behaviour.
It is recognised that the desire to exert power and control in family, domestic and intimate relationships underpins the majority of domestic abuse which takes place, and that abuse is usually inflicted to achieve this end.
Since this Home Office guidance was published there has also been increased national awareness of the impact of intentional grooming. This is an aspect of some relationships where there is domestic abuse, impacting on people’s choices and their ability to leave relationships within which they are being abused.

For more information on domestic violence and abuse, who it affects, when and why it happens, and what causes it please visit Refuge’s “What is domestic violence?” webpage by clicking here


There are a number of specialist domestic violence and abuse services in Warwickshire for people affected by domestic violence and abuse. They can also support you as professionals by providing information and advice, awareness raising materials, risk assessment, safety planning guidance and training.

Refuge – Domestic Violence Service Warwickshire (DVSW)

Refuge is the country’s largest provider of specialist support for women, men and children experiencing domestic violence. In Warwickshire Refuge provide a single point of contact to access a range of advice, information and support for anyone concerned about domestic violence and abuse. This is a new service combining both community based support and safe refuge accommodation.
Support includes safe accommodation (refuges), independent domestic violence advocacy, outreach support and drop in sessions, group programmes, sanctuary scheme and specialist support through GP surgeries.
All services, including refuges, can be accessed through:

Warwickshire’s specialist domestic violence and abuse helpline:
Free phone 0800 408 1552
The helpline is available: Monday – Friday 08:30 – 20:30; Saturday 10:00 – 16:00.
Referrals can also be made via the helpline.

Further information on the service can be found on the service the following website.

Email for Professionals: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

D.A.C.S ‘The Domestic Abuse Counselling Service’

DACS are specialists in the field of domestic violence established since January 2006. DACS sole purpose is to reduce domestic abuse in the community providing free therapeutic intervention, working 'one to one' with victims of domestic abuse from a 'preventative perspective' providing therapy that educates, from safe, accessible locations across the County of Warwickshire.

All DACS services can be accessed by ringing 024 7635 1137

Victim services - We provide a free counselling service for both female and male victims of domestic abuse from DACS therapeutic programmes designed to reduce risk of repeat victimisation and increase safety for victims of domestic abuse and their family.
Perpetrator service - We provide ‘one to one’ programmes of intervention for both male and female perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Partner support service - This is a service for victims of domestic abuse who have a partner engaging with the DACS Perpetrator Programmes and it is fully supported by DACS victim services.

Details of all DACS services and programmes can be found on their website.

In an emergency, always call 999



Edie was in her seventies and was living with terminal cancer. Her health and support needs were increasing as her condition was progressing. She lived with her husband, Jim, in their own home. All of their 4 adult children lived some distance away, although they were able to each come and stay with her to help look after her.
Edie’s daughter Louise called Social Care following a serious incident where Jim had assaulted both Edie and Louise who was staying with them at the time. It was disclosed that this assault came within the context of a long history of domestic abuse from Jim towards Edie, it also precipitated a further family crisis causing 2 of the daughters to disclose previously hidden childhood sexual abuse by Jim.

The situation was complex and precarious - Edie needed to be in the local area to access healthcare services; she wanted to go through the process of dying in her own home and was reluctant to leave. Jim was unwilling to leave the property voluntarily and Police protective measures were unable to enforce this. Due to the disclosures of the childhood sexual abuse, all four children understandably felt they could no longer stay in the home to support Edie if Jim was there.
Edie’s social worker made a referral to the domestic violence service. The domestic violence and abuse towards Edie was assessed as causing a high risk of serious harm and Edie was provided with an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA). As a high risk case Edie was discussed at a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) where information from all agencies in attendance was collated, risks were identified, the action plan reviewed, and any further actions from agencies that could help reduce risk were planned.
Edie’s IDVA supported Edie and her children in applying to the courts for a civil order compelling Jim to leave the family home and live elsewhere. This enabled Edie to live out the rest of her life in her own home without fear of harm from Jim.

Catherine and Ian had been married for 15 years and have 2 children. 3 years ago Catherine was in a car accident that left her unable to walk, only able to use her left hand and in constant pain; she now uses a wheelchair. Early in their relationship Ian became controlling of Catherine and while pregnant with their first child this escalated to physical abuse that has continued ever since.
Following her car accident Ian continued to abuse Catherine, now also using her disability to torment and control her. Ian was now able to control who she saw and where she could go. He would embarrass and humiliate Catherine in front of both family and strangers. Last summer holidays they took their children to the beach on a hot sunny day. Ian left Catherine in her wheelchair all day with no food/ drink or protection from the sun. He knew she would not complain as she desperately wanted her children to have a fun and happy day out, something that was a rarity these days.
Catherine’s occupational therapist started to notice bruises and burns on her that Catherine could not clearly explain. She decided to ask Catherine what was going on. At first Catherine wouldn’t say anything as she was ashamed and scared that nobody would believe her. Ian was her carer and her friends and family all thought he was wonderful in the way he looked after her and their children. But the Occupational therapist knew that it was likely to take Catherine a while to trust her enough to talk about what was going on and so she created as many times as possible for Catherine to talk about it. It took some time but the therapist gained Catherine’s trust and she did disclose that she was being abused by Ian.
After liaising with social care and support on Catherine’s behalf the Occupational therapist referred Catherine to Refuge domestic violence service Warwickshire. A specialist outreach worker met with both Catherine and the Occupational Therapist when it was safe after one of their sessions. They talked about Catherine’s options and following a further meeting Catherine decided that she wanted to leave Ian and go with her children to stay in safe accommodation until ready to move into her own home. Catherine and her children moved out while Ian was at work with the help of the domestic abuse outreach worker who is now also supporting Catherine emotionally, practically, and in seeking protective orders through the civil courts. Catherine is rebuilding her new life and is preparing to move into her own independent accommodation with her children.


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