Counter allegations, where both parties allege abuse, are a common challenge for professionals encountering domestic abuse. Prevailing misconceptions about the nature of domestic abuse and counter allegations can result in increased risk for victims and children. For example, victims may be unable to access services, risking further isolation and victimisation. They may even lose care of their children and suffer psychological impact from not being believed. Concerningly, if such cases are not identified and resolved properly, agencies’ actions may inadvertently help the perpetrator to isolate and control the victim further.
Understanding domestic abuse counter allegations
Evidence from services, professionals and observations of practice across SafeLives’ Public Health Approach work highlights a lack challenges around knowledge, awareness, and confidence in dealing with counter allegations, and successfully identifying the primary perpetrator. A lack of specialised training is compounding this issue.
SafeLives’ guidance explores the different ways in which counter allegations present and describes how multi-agency professionals can work together to confidently identify perpetrators and support victims. While pertinent for frontline professionals involved in Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Marac), the guidance is designed to support all professionals in a position to identify domestic abuse as part of their role.
The guidance also challenges the continued use of judgmental language and attitudes towards domestic abuse. This includes the narrative that parties in these cases ‘are both as bad as each other’. By addressing these issues professionals are supported to correctly establish who the primary victim and primary perpetrator are, as early as possible.
You can find the full guidance here: "Responding to Counter allegations: Guidance - A review of practice"
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