Domestic abuse harms the whole of society and impacts across all sections of our local communities. It damages adults, young people and children and it has a significant impact on individual health and wellbeing and can seriously affect whole life experiences.
The current cross-government definition of domestic abuse is 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 and emotional including verbal abuse
Domestic abuse affects people from all communities and backgrounds and victims are often affected by other complex issues such as poverty, mental ill health, alcohol and drug misuse and poor parenting.
The national annual cost to the UK of violence against women and girls is estimated by the Home Office to be in the region of £37 billion (health, legal and social services). The estimated cost of domestic violence/abuse to agencies in Kirklees has been estimated at £43 million.
Why is this issue important?
National statistics collated as part of the British Crime Survey (BCS) indicated that over one million women in England and Wales become victims of domestic abuse each year and more than one in four women and 1 in 6 men will be victims of domestic abuse in their lifetimes (1).
Repeat victimisation is common. No other type of crime has a rate of repeat victimisation as high (2).
Domestic abuse is rarely an isolated incident. Severity increases over time. Those most at risk of severe damage are those who face barriers to seeking help to stop the cycle of abuse.
In Kirklees in 2013/14, it is estimated that in 12,020 women and 8,501 adult men may have been victims of domestic abuse. This figure is expected to rise (1).
West Yorkshire Police data for 2012/13 shows that in Kirklees, 5624 domestic incidents reported to the police could be classified as domestic abuse but this figure is likely to be significantly understated.
Significant underreporting exists across all victims and prevalence data does not therefore accurately reflect the extent of domestic abuse.
What significant factors are affecting this issue?
Risk factors for perpetrating domestic abuse include a history of violent behaviour, anti-social behaviours and attitudes, relationship instability, employment instability, mental health problems and personality disorder, an abusive childhood, low self-esteem, and hostile attitudes towards women. Other factors include distorted thinking about relationships and male and female roles within relationships, emotional mismanagement, social skills deficits, impulsiveness and alcohol (3). Poverty and social isolation are also key contributors (4).
Which groups are most affected by this issue?
Victims of domestic abuse are not confined to a particular gender, ethnic group or sexual orientation and abuse affects whole families, including children and the elderly. However, evidence shows that the majority of victims are women. Women are more at risk of homicide and repeat victimisation.
Highest levels are reported by those under 30 years but there may be under-reporting in older women due to embarrassment, fear of losing their home, support and independence. Pregnancy is a risk factor. Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic violence than those without a disability. They are also likely to experience abuse over a longer period of time and to suffer more severe injuries as a result of the violence (5). Women offenders are more likely to have experienced domestic and sexual violence than the general female population and are less likely to seek help or use mainstream community service provision. Women are less likely to be perpetrators than men (2,6).
Children and young people
National research has found that almost a quarter of young adults in the UK have witnessed domestic abuse during their childhood and almost 1 in 20 (4.5%) children and young people in the UK have experienced severe forms of domestic abuse. Children were present at the incident in 34.3% of cases in Kirklees.
Children's involvement in domestic violence is intimate and active. Not all children suffer adverse effects but there is evidence that harm is cumulative and longer exposure leads to more severe impact. The impact is likely to differ according to age and developmental stage. Young people exposed to domestic violence in childhood are more likely to experience violence and abuse in their own relationships.
Abuse between young people aged 16-18yrs is more noticeable both for males and females. Research has shown that some teenagers have worryingly high levels of acceptance of abuse within relationships and often justify the abuse with the actions of the victim ie because they were unfaithful.
Teen violence and Abuse towards Parents (TVAP)
In line with national trends, we have discovered that there has been a 50% increase in the number of children and young people demonstrating abusive behaviour towards their parents. In order to help us to understand this better, the Domestic Abuse Partnership has defined this teen violence and abuse towards parents as:
A pattern of behaviour where teenager- young girls or boys use physical, psychological, emotional and financial abuse over time to the extent that parents/carers live in fear of their child.
When children are violent and exert control over their parents the issues are different from intimate partner violence. Parents are legally and practically responsible for their child. Severing lifelong ties with the child is almost never an option, unlike in couple relationships and therefore different strategies and interventions are needed.
The Stronger Families Programme in Kirklees supports families with multiple needs. Families experiencing teen violence and abuse towards parents are now included under the domestic abuse criteria. They have piloted delivery of the Step Up Programme which helps families to find better ways of resolving conflict and promotes respectful relationships between family members. All details about who and how to refer are contained in practitioners' guide.
Men, especially those aged 20 – 40yrs, are more likely to be perpetrators than women and are less likely to be victims than women.
Debate and research regarding the prevalence and context of male victims of domestic abuse is complex and often contradictory. Data from West Yorkshire Police shows that 17.4% of all incidents, regardless of level of assessed risk, were reported by men. The most recent British Crime Survey (BCS) data suggests that 5% of all adult males will be victimised as part of an abusive relationship in any given year (1,7).
Research suggests that the prevalence of domestic violence/abuse in same-sex relationships is comparable with that among heterosexual relationships. However, this research also suggests that significant additional risk factors are specific to same-sex relationships regarding likelihood of disclosure, prevalence of sexual/physical violence and barriers to accessing relevant services.
Fear of getting an unsympathetic response and failure to define or recognise experiences as domestic abuse may act as barriers to reporting and service uptake (8).
Domestic abuse occurs across all ethnic groups. Victims from black and other minority ethnic communities are less likely to access statutory services. In some BME communities, abuse may be perpetrated by extended family members and may include forced marriage or female genital mutilation. Women from black or minority communities may also be more isolated, or have to overcome religious or cultural pressures. They may be afraid of bringing shame onto their “family honour” (9).
Where is this causing greatest concern?
Relevant available data regarding the context and prevalence of domestic abuse in Kirklees is generally limited to that recorded, collated and presented by specialist services. However, it has been possible to map the incidence of domestic abuse across areas of Kirklees by analysing data from the police and from the council’s Care First system.
Data at district committee level shows that Huddersfield has significantly higher number of recorded cases of domestic abuse and Kirklees Rural a significantly lower number. It is difficult to draw conclusions about this.
Health assets are those things that enhance the ability of individuals, communities and populations to maintain and sustain health and well-being. These include things like skills, capacity, knowledge, networks and connections, the effectiveness of groups and organisations and local physical and economic resources. They also include services or interventions that are already being provided or beginning to emerge which contribute to improved health and wellbeing outcomes.
Assets are hugely important to how we feel about ourselves, the strength of our social and community connections and how these shape our health and wellbeing.
As part of our KJSA development we are piloting a range of methods to capture and understand the assets that are active in Kirklees. Please see the assets overview section for more information about our approach and if you are interested in place-based information about assets in Kirklees have a look at the assets section in each of our District Committee summaries (Batley and Spen, Dewsbury and Mirfield, Huddersfield and Kirklees Rural). Where possible and appropriate we will provide information about local assets supporting people across different stages of the life course.
In Kirklees, the following local assets will help to reduce the risk and impacts of domestic abuse:
- A strong Kirklees Domestic Abuse Strategic Partnership and Domestic Abuse Forum.
- A newly recruited strengthened Service Manager – Domestic Abuse and Safeguarding Partnerships role to coordinate the work.
- The newly expanded IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) Service and Police and Crime Commissioner funded Independent Sexual Violence Adviser Service.
- Effective partnership working between a range of statutory and voluntary agencies at both local and West Yorkshire levels.
- Better collaboration between Adults’ and Children’s Safeguarding Boards and the Community Safety Partnership to address priority and emerging issues and to develop and deliver training.
- Bimonthly MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) meetings to identify and respond to high risk cases.
- Support for victims through a range of integrated voluntary and statutory service provision including one to one, formal and informal group and peer support, referral routes into other agencies such as alcohol and substance use services, mental health services, housing advice and a sanctuary scheme to keep people safe in their own homes.
- Work to assess and address the prevalence of domestic abuse and the specific needs of people in the LGBT community is at an early stage.
- Perpetrator programmes are operating to address all levels of risk and encourage behavioural change.
- The Kirklees Stronger Families programme, which has invested in and piloted new approaches to working with families affected by domestic violence.
- The priority that the police (including the Police and Crime Commissioner) are giving to work to respond to domestic abuse prevalence and perpetration.
- The ‘’It’s Never OK’’ continuing campaign to improve public awareness and give people resources to report abuse.
Pennine Domestic Violence Group (PDVG), who were awarded the contract to enhance the provision the Independent Domestic Violence Advocates service in 2016, have also redesigned their services into a ‘Live Safe’ Hub.The Hub consists of 5 community based outreach services which provides targeted, focused support, advice, safety planning and crisis intervention to victims and families of domestic abuse (please see further information in the ‘references and additional resources' section).
What could commissioners and service planners consider?
Commissioners, service planners and Councillors should consider local community assets such as those outlined above so that they can support and build on local strengths and also understand where there are gaps and unmet needs in particular places or amongst particular communities.
Further topics that should be considered are:
- Domestic abuse is a priority for Safer Kirklees and has been identified as a key theme in the Safer Kirklees Partnership Plan. Local partners have adopted an integrated approach to implementing strategies to address domestic abuse.
- Implement the Domestic Abuse Strategy in order to reduce the incidence and impact of domestic abuse in Kirklees.
- Domestic abuse is a principal or underlying issue in the majority of referrals to children’s safeguarding services.
- Use accurate data and intelligence regarding the prevalence of domestic abuse to inform local actions.
- Partners should continue to develop ways to combine resources and efforts to improve outcomes for victims and children. Existing systems of information sharing between agencies need to expand.
- Work towards ensuring that appropriate provision is in place so that adequate support is available where abuse does occur.
- Focus on protection with increased confidence in reporting, so that we reduce the risk to women (and men) and children. We have to work towards eliminating gender inequality.
- Focus on prevention where we can change attitudes and work hard for earlier intervention.
- Ensure that perpetrators are held to account and supported to change their behaviour.
References and additional resources
- Kirklees Council. Kirklees Domestic Abuse Strategy 2015-2018 Taking up the Challenge. Available from: https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/community/yourneighbourhood/crimeSafety/pdf/KirkleesDomesticAbuseStrategy.pdf
- 4Children. The Enemy Within: 4 Million Reasons to Tackle Family conflict and Family Violence. 2012. Available from: http://cdn.basw.co.uk/upload/basw_120732-6.pdf
- Ministry of Justice. What Works with Domestic Violence Offenders? 2010. Available from: https://www.swmcrc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/What-works-Domestic-violence.pdf
- Farmer E, Callan S. Beyond Violence: Breaking Cycles of Domestic Abuse. A Policy Report for the Centre for Social Justice. 2012. Available from: http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/library/beyond-violence-breaking-cycles-domestic-abuse
- Women’s Aid. The Survivor’s Handbook. Available from: www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook
- Norman N, Barron J. Supporting women offenders who have experienced domestic and sexual violence. 2011.
- Leaman B. Kirklees Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment. 2015. Available from: http://observatory.kirklees.gov.uk/Custom/Resources/Kirklees%20Domestic%20Abuse%20Needs%20Assessment%202015.pdf
- Donovan C, Hester M, Holmes J, Mccarry M. Comparing Domestic Abuse in Same Sex and Heterosexual Relationships. 2006. Available from: http://www.equation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Comparing-Domestic-Abuse-in-Same-Sex-and-Heterosexual-relationships.pdf
- Parmar A, Sampson A, Diamond A. Tackling Domestic Violence : providing advocacy and support to survivors from Black and other minority ethnic communities. Home Office. 2005. Available from: http://library.college.police.uk/docs/hodpr/dpr35.pdf
Pennine Domestic Violence Group Live Safe Hub details - click here.
Date this section was last reviewed