Parenting through domestic abuse spotlight

Best practice and practical steps professionals can follow to make sure they’re seeing the whole picture for every family – part of our 2016–2019 Spotlights series that shone a light on the hidden victims of domestic abuse

In each of our Spotlights we looked at the experiences of a group of victims and survivors who face additional barriers to accessing support, or who can feel ‘hidden’ from services. But victims of domestic abuse aren’t hiding from services – it’s the system that fails to seem them. We know this can feel particularly true for parents who are experiencing domestic abuse and engaging with agencies like children’s social care. We know that a failure to see the whole picture for the whole family can sometimes mean that the needs of the adult victim are missed – and the perpetrator remains invisible and unchallenged.

In the eighth of our spotlights, we looked at how it feels attempting to navigate complex systems and agencies, while trying to keep yourself and your child safe. We considered what great practice looks like and what practical steps agencies and professionals can take to make sure they’re seeing the whole picture for every family. We were delighted to work in partnership with the Local Government Association on this spotlight.

About SafeLives’ Spotlights series

Our 2016–2019 Spotlights series shone a light on hidden victims of domestic abuse. We explored the experiences of victim groups who face additional barriers to accessing support, and can feel ‘hidden’ from services. Discover insight from survivors, practitioners, academics and other experts, alongside our own research and data.

A mother hugging her young daughter.

I went to social services for help, and was blamed for their difficulties, to the point that the LA [local authority] took me and my husband to court to get a care order. We had asked for help with our sons' violence, destruction and aggression, been offered parenting courses, inappropriate therapy and plenty of ignorance. When the violence continued and support was refused, we had no choice other than to ask for our child to be accommodated by the LA, which triggered not the help our child needed but instead care proceedings and our child returning to care.

Domestic abuse survivor

Facts and figures

  • Facts and figures

    of Marac referrals are from children's social care

  • Facts and figures

    of victims and survivors accessing Idva services had children in the house and 40% of these families weren't known to children's services

  • Facts and figures

    of child in need assessments had additional factors identified that contributed to the child being in need. Domestic abuse was identified in 51% of these cases.

Blogs, webinars and podcasts

Why Ofsted believe in the whole family approach

Ofsted works closely with the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and HMI Probation, carrying out joint inspections to see how well local agencies in an area work together to protect children. Children living with domestic abuse was the focus of our inspection programme in 2016.

Different planets

A reflection on Marianne Hester’s Three Planet model, its relevance to frontline work, and agencies coming together holistically around survivors and families.

Domestic abuse and the family court

Many families who have experienced domestic abuse find themselves in family court. Some are subject to care proceedings, where children are removed from mothers who have been assessed as “unable to protect” their children from the domestic abuse they are experiencing themselves

Listen: The Safe and Together model

Listen: Children, the non-abusive parent and children's social care - Dr Emma Katz

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