"Hit and miss"

Family lawyers’ understanding of domestic abuse

This report explores family lawyers’ understanding of domestic abuse and highlights areas where changes can be made for future survivors. It also celebrates the legal representation that survivors found supportive and empowering.

To build a picture of the situation, we asked whether respondents felt family lawyers understand the dynamics of domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour (CCB). This report shows that family lawyers’ understanding of the dynamics of domestic abuse is a mixed picture, varying across types of legal professional, between urban and rural areas, and types of legal proceedings.

We want to thank all the survivors who shared their experiences of the family court with us. We hope the Domestic Abuse Family Lawyers training we have developed alongside this report will make the difference for future victims and survivors of domestic abuse who are represented in family court proceedings.

This report contains:

  • Introduction
  • About this report
  • Summary
  • Findings
    • Family lawyers’ understanding of domestic abuse
    • Key gaps in family lawyers’ understanding around domestic abuse
    • Recognising the impact of the family courts on survivors of domestic abuse
    • Trauma-informed practice
    • Good practice in the family courts
  • Informing the training package


You can feel sympathy and empathise [with the client], but actually standing back from it... It’s our day job, we’re trying to get them through the process. I’m not sure we’re sensitively and intelligently – and in an informed way – able to step back and look at how it must feel.


Domestic abuse training for family lawyers

Our cultural change programme creating transformation within the family justice system and strengthening practitioner capacity to respond to domestic abuse.