Domestic violence and abuse can affect anyone, both women and men, regardless of their age or where they are from. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says there needs to be a wider understanding in health and social care, as well as in society as a whole, about how we can help people experiencing it.
NICE has published new guidance which aims to help identify, prevent and reduce domestic violence and abuse. It outlines how health services, social care and the organisations they work with can respond effectively to domestic violence and abuse.
Domestic violence and abuse can be physical abuse, threats, emotional abuse, sexual assault or stalking by a partner, ex-partner or family member. Both men and women may perpetrate domestic violence and abuse, but it is more commonly inflicted on women by men. This is particularly true for severe and repeated violence and sexual assault.
Each year at least 1.2 million women and 784,000 men experience domestic violence and abuse in England and Wales, with one in three women and nearly one in five men experiencing it at some point in their lives. These figures are likely to underestimate the problem, because all types of domestic violence and abuse are under-reported in health and social research, to the police and other services.
Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE said:
“Domestic violence and abuse are far more common than people think. Everyone in society needs to understand both the extent of the problem and the damage it causes. It can affect anyone – particularly women and children, but also men, regardless of age, geographical location, income, relationship type, family set-up or ethnic origin. It causes significant short and long term health problems, not only for the victim, but for those around them and can lead to criminal and civil sanctions. This new guidance recommends that health and social care professionals should receive training so that they can recognise the signs of domestic violence and abuse, and ensure that those affected are aware of the help and support available to them.”
Recommendations from the new guidance include:
- Information in waiting areas and other suitable places about the support on offer for those affected by domestic violence and abuse should be clearly displayed. This includes contact details of relevant local and national helplines. It could also include information for groups who may find it more difficult to disclose that they are experiencing violence and abuse.
- Frontline staff in all services should be trained to recognise the indicators of domestic violence and abuse and ask relevant questions to help people disclose their past or current experiences of such violence or abuse. The enquiry should be made in private on a one-to-one basis in an environment where the person feels safe, and in a kind, sensitive manner.
- People’s safety should be prioritised and regularly assessed to determine what type of service someone needs – immediately and in the longer term.
- Those responsible for safeguarding children, and commissioners and providers of specialist services for children and young people affected by domestic violence and abuse should address the emotional, psychological and physical harms arising from a child or young person being affected by domestic violence and abuse, as well as their safety. This includes the wider educational, behavioural and social effects.
- Specific training should be provided for health and social care professionals in how to respond to domestic violence and abuse.
Anyone seeking information and support about domestic abuse can access the Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse free helpline on 0800 408 1552, available between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 4pm Saturday.
The website, http://www.talk2someone.org.uk, also offers information and support for victims, families, friends and neighbours as well as perpetrators, who may be looking to turn things around.
If you are in immediate danger contact Warwickshire Police by dialling 999 – Warwickshire Police can also be contacted on 01926 415000.