Domestic Abuse Prevention Strategy 2018-23
Best practice in working with children affected by Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse touches the lives, directly or indirectly,of most people in Birmingham. The sheer scale of domestic abuse causes untold harm to individuals,children and families, communities and damages the social fabric of the city.
To download the Domestic Abuse Prevention Strategy 2018-2023 and the West Midlands Domestic Violence & Abuse Standards September 2015 please click on the images below:
Birmingham Violence Against Women and Children Steering Group and Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board have endorsed the following best practice in working with children who are affected by domestic abuse:
- Do remember that your initial response is extremely important. Validate what the child is telling you, ensures/he knows that you are listening and that you believe what you are being told. Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you and that Domestic Abuse is not their fault
- Do be honest with the child from the outset; explain the limitations to confidentiality to ensure that the child can control what s/he tells you. Explain what you will do and how you will record any information given
- Do ensure that the child feels comfortable talking to you; give her/him your name and encourage the child to contact you again in the future should s/he need to. If the child wants you to contact her/him make sure that you have a safe way of doing this before agreeing to do so
- Do use language that is appropriate to the child's age and ability and ensure that you are not overloading the child with information. This is especially important when talking to children about confidentiality.
- Do listen for coded talking from children, don't assume or expect they will name things in the way that you do.
- Do be trustworthy in your work with children, do what you say you are going to do, set and maintain boundaries around your work and don't make promises you can't keep.
- Do allow the child to be in control wherever possible, offer choices, go at her/his pace; ask the child what they want to happen next and ask what you can do to help.
- Do allow children to be children and don't make them responsible for abusive behaviour.
- Do prepare yourself for disclosures of abuse and domestic violence; be aware of other organisations who can offer support. Where appropriate give the child contact telephone numbers for her/him to access in their own time and ensure that you are aware of out-of-hours support in the event of an emergency
- Do be aware of the link between Domestic Abuse and Child Protection; be clear about your responsibilities with regard to child protection and ensure that the child understands what might happen.
- Do be non-judgemental in your response to children; respond to each child's individual needs and be aware that children's experiences will differ depending on ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion or sexuality.
- Do record any information you are given. This will validate what the child has told you and ensure continuity in support.
- Do develop links with other agencies working in this field and make the most of networking opportunities
- Do be aware of your own and your own organisations limitations; seek advice from other professionals and acknowledge that other services may be more appropriate
Do follow up any referral that you have made with the organisation and the child, and ensure that the child understands what is going on throughout the process
- Do remember that often the best way to support children is to support the non-abusing parent/carer, who is usually mum.
It can be daunting for a child to disclose abuse because of the following fears and beliefs:
- They may feel the abuse is their fault
- They will get into trouble
- Nobody will believe them
- Nobody can stop it
- The abuse will get worse
- Their abuser will be sent to prison and it will be their fault
- Their mother and other people they love will be hurt if they tell
- They may feel the abuse is their fault
- They told before and nobody listened
- They will be taken into care
- Their abuser has said that they will hurt them if they tell
- They believe that this is what happens in families
- They love their dad
- They may blame their behaviour i.e. If I'm good they won’t do it again
- They may believe that they are a bad child
- They feel ashamed of what the abuser does
Where children have been more deeply emotionally affected by their experiences and need more intense support, the GP may consider a referral to the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Teams which aim to support, help and intervene with children and young people who are experiencing emotional and mental health problems.
Domestic Violence Services:
- www.thehideout.org.uk is aimed specifically at children who have experienced domestic violence
- Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid Helpline: 0808 800 0028 / www.bswaid.org
- Rights of Women Legal Advice Line: Free confidential legal advice on family law, divorce and relationship breakdown, children and contact issues, domestic violence, sexual violence, discrimination and lesbian parenting. A number of fact sheets are available free to download. www.rightsofwomen.org.uk
- Legal Advice Line: 020 7251 6577.
- National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 - 24 hour freephone www.womensaid.org.uk
More information about your options can be found at: www.womensaid.org.uk
For male victims of Domestic Abuse:
- M.A.L.E: Men's Advice Line & Enquiries: Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence whether in straight, gay, bi sexual or transgender relationship. 0808 801 0327. www.mensadviceline.org.uk