In the year ending March 2019, an estimated 2.4 million people aged 16 to 74 years reported experiencing domestic abuse. The true figure is much higher. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, but is disproportionately perpetrated by men towards women and children.
Exposing children to domestic abuse is child abuse. We need to ensure that professionals and wider communities have the knowledge, confidence and support to be professionally curious and act in order to safeguard and support children and adults where there are concerns of abuse. Many people with childhood trauma go on to experience a range of further adverse experiences including poverty, abuse, neglect, school exclusions, drug use and mental health issues. It is important that we take every opportunity that we have to prevent domestic abuse, support victims and make it as difficult as possible for perpetrators.
The national definition is:
‘Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of a controlling, coercive, 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 sexual orientation. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional forms of abuse.’
The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit has an important role to play in supporting the development of good practice and identification of evidence based approaches which can inform and improve the way we respond to this issue as a region. The Domestic Abuse Board and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Board work closely together to ensure that victims of domestic abuse receive access to a range of services to support them and their family.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for commissioning support for victims of crime. The voices of those affected by crime are paramount to help shape and develop services for the future.
What is the VRU Doing?
Working with the Domestic Abuse Board the VRU is supporting work to:
- Ensure that the requirements within the Domestic Abuse bill are understood and local partners are ready and equipped to respond to its implementation.
- Ensure professionals adopt a trauma informed approach when dealing with victims.
- Ensure victims and survivors are involved in the development and improvement of services.
- Ensure victims’ services are accessible and effective.
- Ensure there is strong oversight and understanding of the effectiveness of regional interventions and pilot projects.
- Strengthen the approach to safeguarding, identification and prevention.
- Ensure that the learning from domestic homicide reviews is understood, shared and informs future practice and commissioning.