The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
any incident or pattern of incidents of 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 sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
Children may be involved in domestic violence and abuse in a number of ways. Children are at increased risk of physical injury during an incident, either by accident or because they attempt to intervene. Even when not directly injured, children are greatly distressed by witnessing the physical and emotional suffering of a parent. Children's exposure to parental conflict, even where violence is not present, can lead to serious anxiety and distress which may express itself in many different ways.
Research tells us there is a significant link between violence to a partner and the abuse of children. Domestic abuse can happen in any relationship, and it affects young people too. They may not realise that what's happening is abuse. Even if they do, they might not tell anyone about it because they're scared of what will happen, or ashamed about what people will think - 1 in 5 teenagers have been physically abused by their boyfriends or girlfriends.
The Police are often the first point of contact with families in which domestic abuse and violence takes place. The Police should always find out whether there are children living in the household and see them to assess their immediate safety. If they have specific concerns about the safety or welfare of a child, they should contact Cumbria Safeguarding Hub citing the basis for their concerns.
The three central imperatives of any intervention for children living with domestic violence and abuse are:
To protect the child(ren), including unborn child(ren);
To empower the victim to protect themselves and their child(ren); and
To identify the abusive partner, hold them accountable for their abuse and provide them with opportunities to change.