Domestic Abuse




Prolonged and/or regular exposure to domestic abuse can have a serious impact on a child’s development and emotional well being as well as his or her physical safety. As such it is one of the potential causes of significant harm to children which may warrant the use of the child protection procedures. 


Domestic Abuse Strategy

The York and North Yorkshire Domestic Abuse Strategy can be found on our CYSCP Strategies page.

Definition of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is defined in law as: 

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological;
  • Physical;
  • Sexual;
  • Financial;
  • Emotional.

Controlling or Coercive Behaviour

Controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships is an offence. Controlling or coercive behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of behaviour which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another. Such behaviours might include:

  • Isolating a person from their friends and family;
  • Depriving them of their basic needs;
  • Monitoring their time;
  • Monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware;
  • Taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep;
  • Depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services;
  • Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless;
  • Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim;
  • Forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities;
  • Financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance;
  • Threats to hurt or kill;
  • Threats to a child;
  • Threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to ‘out’ someone);
  • Assault;
  • Criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods);
  • Rape;
  • Preventing a person from having access to transport or from working.

Professionals should be able to recognise all forms of domestic abuse, including coercive and controlling behaviour; they should know how to respond sensitively, without escalating risks for victims.

Although the cross-government definition above applies to those aged 16 and over, Adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA) can also involve children under 16.

Domestic abuse is likely to have a damaging effect on the health and development of children, and it will often be appropriate for these children to be regarded as children in need. Normally one serious or several lesser incidents of domestic violence where there is a child in the household would indicate that Children’s Social Care may need to be informed to consider carrying out a single assessment of the child and the family.

Any response by any agency to an incidence of domestic abuse should be discreet in terms of making contact with victims. Standard letters should not be sent as this could further endanger the victim or their children.

Refuge addresses should not be disclosed by any agency and the P.O Box number should be used in all correspondence.  Refuge telephone numbers can be given to victims of domestic abuse.

Professional Judgement

Children may suffer from witnessing or hearing the ill treatment of another in circumstances of domestic abuse. There is a need to balance the information and use your professional judgement as to whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.  If you are unsure as to whether an enquiry should be made to Children’s Social Care you must consult with your agency lead for child protection and/or contact the MASH team in regard to concern about a child. Telephone number for the MASH is 01904 55190


The MATAC (Multi Agency Tasking and Coordination) identifies, through the use of analytics, the most dangerous perpetrators of domestic abuse in our county.  Working with partner agencies, MATAC will deliver a combination of support, prevention, diversion, disruption and enforcement through a range of criminal justice sanctions and other interventions. The key aims are preventing further domestic abuse related offending, improving victim safety and changing offender behaviour.    

MATAC for Partners Toolkit


Operation Encompass

Operation Encompass is a unique Police and Education early intervention safeguarding partnership which supports children and young people exposed to domestic abuse.


It involves the Police reporting to schools before the start of the next school day when a child or young person has been involved or exposed to a domestic abuse incident the previous evening. The information is given in strict confidence to a school’s Key Adult to enable support to be given dependent on the needs and wishes of the child. 

Useful Links

IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services)   Helpline number: 03000 110 110 (7 days a week).  Website: Live-chat: available Mon – Fri 5pm – 7pm.

National 24 hour domestic abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247

York and North Yorkshire Domestic Abuse Strategy 2018-22

Government guidance Domestic abuse: how to get help

The Home Office Definition of domestic violence and abuse: guide for local areas

NSPCC Domestic Abuse resources

Safe Lives Ending Domestic Abuse

North Yorkshire Police Domestic Abuse information

Kyra Women's Project in York