Getting it right first time (2015)

This report was published in 2015. For our latest reports and publications, visit our policy and research library.

The impact of domestic abuse on the victim and on children is severe and long-lasting. And families live with domestic abuse for far too long before getting effective help – on average 2.7 years.

Cutting the time it takes to find and help victims and their families is critical to stop murder, serious injury, and enduring harm.

Too many missed opportunities

But there are still far too many missed opportunities to get help for families experiencing domestic abuse. SafeLives data shows that 85% of victims sought help five times on average from professionals in the year before they got effective help to stop the abuse. Each contact represents a chance for us to help the victim disclose and get help – a chance that was missed, leaving the family to live with abuse for longer.

In the year before they got effective help:

  • Four in five victims at high risk of serious harm or murder due to domestic abuse (78%) and two thirds of victims of medium risk abuse (62%) reported the abuse to the police
  • Nearly a quarter of victims at high risk of serious harm or murder, (23%) and one in ten victims at medium risk went to an accident and emergency department because of their injuries. In the most extreme cases, victims reported that they attended A&E 15 times.

The work to be done

I didn’t know that there was any help out there and I was too ashamed to let people know. I went to hospital a few times but he always accompanied me and I’d had to lie about my injuries. I wanted the nurses to cotton on and to help me, but no one noticed what I was going through.


We need to create the system to find every family as quickly as possible, and get the response right, first time, for every family.

That means all mainstream services must create an environment where any member of the family can tell someone about domestic abuse, and know that it will be acted on. And every professional should make identifying domestic abuse part of what they do, day-to-day – they should ask about domestic abuse whenever they are worried about a family. And we should have more specialist domestic abuse services based in the community – like putting Idva services in A&E departments.

We have to get it right first time, for every family living with domestic abuse.

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