DVA encompasses emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual violence and abuse, stalking and harassment, intimidation and humiliation, manipulation, threatening behaviour, financial control, coercion isolation, , and entrapment.
It is a common breach of human rights.
It involves the systematic use of power and control, with far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, children, communities and society as a whole. It is one element of the ‘toxic trio‘ identified as common features of families where harm to children and adults has occurred.
In a nationally representative primary care database of approximately 6% of the UK populationi, only 0.5% of women had DVA recorded, compared to the Office for National Statistics estimated prevalence of 17%. While it is impossible to know exactly how much DVA is under-recorded, it is clear that multiple strategies are needed to improve identification for those affected by DVA. DVA is a big problem.
A recent study by the Home Office estimated that cost of domestic abuse for its victims in the year ending on 31st March 2017 was approximately £66 billion. That is at least 6 times more than previously estimated. In 2012, the cost of DVA in the UK, including medical and social services, lost economic output and emotional costs, was estimated to be £11 billionii.
In the United Kingdom, in the year ending March 2017, 7.5% of women (1.2 million) experienced domestic abuseiii, the number is now closer to 2 millioniv. While DVA can affect both men and women, it is a gendered issue. Women are more often exposed to multiple forms of abuse and more frequently so. Women who experience DVA suffer chronic health problems including gynaecological problems, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological symptoms, chronic pain, cardiovascular conditions and mental health problems v, vi, vii, viii.
The consequences of missing the opportunity to identify DVA and offer support are severe. Seventy-five percent of cases of domestic violence results in physical injury or mental health consequences to womenix. A recent study found that 49.5% of women who had experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) had some form of mental health illness, compared to only 24% of those who had not. Women in the IPV group were also two and a half times more likely to develop a new mental illness within 2 to 3 yearsx.
DVA is also a major indicator of risk to children and young people. Children’s exposure to IPV is strongly associated with a broad range of emotional and behavioural problems, as well as increased risk-taking behaviour, including alcohol and substance misuse, and academic problems. There can also be direct physical health consequences, including injuries and death, when physical violence between caregivers directly involves childrenxi, xii.
It is estimated that around one in five children in the UK have been exposed to domestic violence or abuse between their parents or caregivers. While DVA is strictly defined as violence and abuse between adults, when adults are involved in an abusive relationship, their children bear the consequences.
One in five children in the UK have been exposed to domestic violence or abuse between their parents or caregivers.
While physical injury and death when children are caught up in the violence between adults are the most severe cases of children’s exposure to DVA, even when not directly involved, children’s exposure can continue through witnessing and being aware of the violence, as well as through its health, social and financial consequences.
Health and social care workers are often the first professionals to have contact with women and children affected by DVA. This often happens when the abused parent seeks help, or when children undergo health checks. But it can happen during assessments for emotional or behavioural problems, or when social services, a child’s school or the police become involved.
In the year ending in March 2018, the police recorded 599,549 domestic abuse-related crimes. This is an increase of circa 23% from 2017. While this numbers are encouraging, only 225,714 arrests for domestic abuse-related offences were made in the same year, implying that just under 90% of the victims do not find justice for what they live.
Domestic Violence and Abuse is as much a police matter as it is a health issue. This is why the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that health professionals who see women with clinical signs of domestic violence should ask them about safety in their relationship and at home. They also advise that responses to disclosure should follow what is known as the “LIVES” principles: Listen, Inquire about needs and concerns, Validate, Enhance safety, and provide Support. By training GPs to correctly and effectively identifying cases of DVA, and providing a first layer of support from Advocate Educators, IRIS not only follows the WHO principles, but goes beyond.
But there are no equivalent recommendations for children, and there is no agreed approach regarding how best to identify and respond to children who are exposed to domestic violence. This means there is still a lot to be done to tackle this burdensome and costly problem.
“Just asked my first patient re: domestic abuse. She was fine, and glad I asked”IRIS GP
Bristol & South Gloucestershire IRIS Partnership win the VOSCUR Partnership Award at the 2020 VoscursRead more
London’s Violence Reduction Unit invests £1m in boosting doctors’ skills in identifying and supporting victims of domestic violence through the IRIS programmeRead more
AVA is an expert, groundbreaking and independent charity working across the UK.
Their vision is a world without gender based violence and abuse. They aim to inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage and enable direct service providers to help end gender based violence and abuse particularly against women and girls.AVA’s work is focused around those areas where they can make the best contribution to ending violence and abuse. They do this by making sure that survivors get the help and support they need in the here and now, through providing innovative training that has a proven direct impact on the professional practice of people supporting survivors of violence and abuse
developing a range of toolkits, e-learning and other material that supports professionals to provide effective and appropriate support to survivors of violence and abuse
using our influence and networks to ensure survivors voices are heard. We work closely with AVA in many areas including the Pathfinder project
SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. SafeLives are members of the Pathfinder consortium.
Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation. We are the only national second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls i.e. women and girls which are defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME). The organisation holds nearly two decades of experience of working around issues such as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence.
They work at local, national and international level, and in partnership with a range of organisations, to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls. Imkaan works with it’s members to represent the expertise and perspectives of frontline, specialist and dedicated Black and minoritised women’s organisations that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Imkaan delivers a unique package of support which includes: quality assurance; accredited training and peer education; sustainability support to frontline Black and minoritised organisations; and facilitation of space for community engagement and development. They are a part of the Pathfinder Consortium.
The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It is part of Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.
The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. The Health Foundation’s Exploring Social Franchising programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the potential of social franchising models for scaling effective health and social care interventions within the NHS.
We are one of four project teams participating in the programme to develop a social franchise to enable the sustainable spread of our intervention, the IRIS Programme. We receive funding and support from the Health Foundation, including technical expertise on social franchising, and attend programme learning events. The Health Foundation has also commissioned a programme-wide evaluation to support understanding of the use of social franchising in the UK health and care system. We and our franchisees will support the evaluation through co-designing data collection requirements, providing access to data as requested, hosting site visits and attending learning events.
Standing Together Against Domestic Violence is a UK charity bringing communities together to end domestic abuse. They bring local services together to keep people safe
Most public services weren’t designed with domestic abuse in mind, and they often struggle to keep people safe. Poor communication and gaps between services put survivors at risk.
STADV aim to end domestic abuse by changing the way that local services respond to it. They do this through an approach that they pioneered, called the Coordinated Community Response. The Coordinated Community Response brings services together to ensure local systems truly keep survivors safe, hold abusers to account, and prevent domestic abuse.
Their model of a coordinated local partnership to tackle and ultimately prevent domestic violence is now widely accepted as best practice. They are also a part of the Pathfinder consortium.
Spring Impact is a not-for-profit social enterprise born out of the frustration of seeing social organisations constantly reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources. Spring Impact uses a combination of tested commercial and social principles and extensive practical expertise to support organisations to identify, design and implement the right social replication model to scale their social impact.