Spotlight #8: Parenting through domestic abuse


What the data tells us

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What you can expect

In each of our Spotlights, we look at the experiences of a group of victims and survivors who face additional barriers to accessing support, or can feel ‘hidden’ from services. Of course we know that victims of domestic abuse aren’t hiding from services – it’s the system that fails to see them. We know that 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.

We want to shine a light on how it feels attempting to navigate complex systems and agencies, while trying to keep yourself and your child safe. We want to shift the responsibility for the safety of the family away from the victim and onto the person causing the harm: the perpetrator. We’ll be looking at 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're delighted to be working in partnership with the Local Government Association on this Spotlight.

As always, we want to hear from you. We’ll be publishing new content every week including blogs, podcasts and survivor stories – join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SafeAndSeen. If you work with victims and survivors of domestic abuse in any capacity, you can also get involved on the SafeLives Community. It’s free to join and is a great place to connect with other professionals, share best practice and start conversations. We’ll see you there.


'Voices of experience: survivor reflections on Children's Social Care' – Emma Retter, SafeLives

'Children's social workers, domestic abuse and collaborative working' – Vashti Wickers

'How can we learn the lessons from DHRs?' – James Rowlands

'The value of having student social workers on placement in domestic abuse services' – Kathleen Collier, Black Country Women's Aid

'Experiences of male victims in the context of Children's Social Care' – Luke Martin

'The importance of Children's Social Care responding to the whole family' – Nicky Stanley, University of Central Lancashire

'Six tips to support LGBT+ parents who have experienced Domestic Abuse' – Millie Fry, Galop

'The benefits of Social Workers delivering domestic abuse programmes' – Rachel Tossell, NDADA

'Why Ofsted believe in the whole family approach' – Paul d'Inverno, Ofsted

'Change programme for chidren's social care' – Emma Robinson, SafeLives

'Issues around lack of domestic abuse training for social work students' – Cherryl Henry, Sheffield Cathedral and Church of England

'Standing together: Multi-agency working and co-location in children's social care' – Nicola Douglas and Sally Jackson, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence

'Different  planets' – Collette Eaton-Harris, Safelives

'Responding to domestic abuse: resources for Children's services' – Jenny Smith and Jenn Douglas, Safelives

'Three ways to make sure families are safe and seen' – Vicky, SafeLives Pioneer

'A whole family, whole picture approach' – Jo Silver, SafeLives

'Developing our multi-agency response to domestic abuse' – Jackie Milton, North Somerset Council

'Domestic abuse and the family court' – Toni Mayo, Cafcass


'An exploration of mothers' experiences of CPSW following an incident of domestic abuse' – Stacey Stewart, Nottingham Trent University, 30th May 2019

'Multi-Agency Working: turning rhetoric into practice reality'  Jodie Das, Associate Trainer at SafeLives and Director and Researcher at CRAFT, 17th June 2019


Jenny speaks to  Anna Mitchell, UK Lead for Safe and Together, about the principles of the Safe and Together model and how it relates to domestic abuse and social work.

Download a transcript

Dr Emma Katz, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, talks to Michelle Phillips, Head of Practice at SafeLives, about the significance of the relationship between the non abusive parent and their children with children's social care.

Download a transcript


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