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Domestic violence is defined as ‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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’. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

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 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, which is not a legal definition, includes so called 'honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
The Department of Health estimates that, every year, 750,000 children experience domestic violence. It is likely that this figure is higher due to under-reporting.

Seeing or overhearing violence to another person in the home has adverse effects on a child’s development and welfare. In families where there is domestic violence children are at increased risk of being physically and sexually abused. Unborn children are also at increased risk; domestic violence is a prime cause of miscarriage, still birth, premature birth, foetal psychological damage, foetal physical injury and foetal death.

Nationally, domestic violence is reported to be an issue in approximately 75% of cases where children are subject to a child protection plan. Domestic violence was a factor in three-quarters of cases where children had been killed or seriously injured.

All agencies need to work together to identify and protect these children/young people.


If you are concerned about a child/young person where there is, or you suspect, domestic violence in the home or you have concerns that a young person’s intimate relationship is abusive, please contact Children’s Services Contact Team Social on 020 7527 7400.


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