Domestic Abuse

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 puts a definition of Domestic Abuse (DA) in law for the first time. DA can affect anyone.

The definitions of DA are:

  • physical or sexual abuse
  • violent or threatening behaviour
  • controlling or coercive behaviour
  • economic abuse
  • psychological, emotional or other abuse.

DA consists of the above between two people aged 16 or older who are ‘personally connected’. ‘Personally connected’ includes those in an intimate personal relationship or those who are related.

The definition recognises children as victims of DA if they see, hear or otherwise experience the effects of abuse and are related to either the abuser or the abused.

The ‘Act’ introduced the following duties:

  • Statutory duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of DA and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation
  • Introduced Clare’s Law (Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme) on a statutory footing
  • Prohibits GPs and other health professionals from charging a victim of DA for a letter to support an application for legal aid
  • Revenge porn offence extended to cover ‘threat to disclose’
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour offence extended to cover post-separation abuse 
  • Changes to the ‘rough sex gone wrong’ defence
  • Homeless victims of DA automatically qualify for priority need for homelessness assistance
  • The DA Act includes the new offence of non-fatal strangulation
  • Aims to address concerns that non-fatal strangulation and suffocation are hard to prosecute under existing laws, as they often leave no visible/external injury
  • The legislation makes clear that the offence applies even if the victim consented to the strangulation but still suffered serious harm as a result.

What to do if someone makes a disclosure of DA - a practical guide

Where a person discloses that they have been subject to DA, they should be supported to be open and listened to. 

In all cases, a DASH Risk Assessment should be completed. 

Practitioners should also follow their own agency safeguarding procedures.

The DASH Risk Assessment includes four specific documents:

The Young People’s SafeLives Risk Identification Checklist (RIC) will allow you to apply the wide-ranging research available on risk in adult cases of DA, combined with the more limited evidence base that relates to young people experiencing intimate partner abuse, and use it to begin the risk assessment process with a young person who is being harmed within a relationship.

PLEASE NOTE: This is yet to be updated with the Homicide Timeline.

Completed DASH Risk Assessment documents should be sent to Documents should be password protected with a follow up email containing the password. 

On receipt, consideration will be given as to the best method of support, including referral to MARAC.

What is MARAC/What does it do?

  • A MARAC is a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference
  • The MARAC is a weekly meeting to discuss how to help victims at high-risk of murder/serious harm
  • As a multi-agency meeting it allows the sharing of information and resources between agencies and professionals
  • This allows agencies to volunteer specialist actions/support – which create multi-agency risk management action plans. Together the attendees write an action plan for each victim
  • The MARAC enables agencies to work together and share resources
  • The MARAC increases the safety, health and wellbeing of victim’s adults and their children.

What is the MARAC Threshold?

  • 14 YES ticks on the DASH (evidence-based tool which informs practitioners about clients circumstances and the risk of serious harm)
  • Professional Judgement - Use your professional judgement in conjunction with the DASH risk indicators to assist in identifying and grading the risk
  • Definition of Professional Judgement: 
  • Professional = a person who engages in an activity with competence and skill
  • Judgement = being able to make an informed decision based on a balanced viewpoint.

Professional Judgement should be used if:

  • You are unable to complete the DASH Risk Assessment and have concerns for someone’s safety and they are at risk of harm due to a disclosure of on-going DA
  • Note any significant risk indicators present within your DASH Risk Assessment – strangulation/choking, recent separation, stalking, the level of victim's fear, increase in severity and/or frequency of abuse, coercive and controlling behaviours
  • Please ensure you include any previously unreported abuse including sexual behaviour, which is another high-risk indicator, which can occur when coercive and controlling behaviours are present.

Support for Perpetrators of DA

Breaking the cycle of DA is key to providing safety for all citizens of Cumbria. 

Turning the Spotlight 

Turning the Spotlight (TTS) provides a RESPECT accredited holistic whole family approach to working with those causing harm and abuse.  This also includes situations where conflict within relationships is becoming or has the potential to become abusive. This is based on a 12-week healthy relationships group programme. 

TTS is also piloting a high-risk service ‘They Matter’ which works with perpetrators of DA who have been assessed as causing a high risk of harm. The programme is 27 weeks and combines both group and 1:1 work. 

All the services provided by Victim Support Cumbria are free and you may or may not need to have reported to the police (meaning Perpetrators of DA can access programmes without conviction). 

To make a referral, please access PDF document here, or the Microsoft Word document here

Step up - Restorative Solutions 

Step Up is a group programme for families experiencing youth violence in the home. Young People cannot be classified as perpetrators of DA before the age of 16. However, a preventative programme is available. The overall aim of the programme is to support young people to stop violent and abusive behaviour, restore safety, trust and respect and to promote accountability to young people for their own behaviour in the home. 

The aim is to support families to leave the programme with a respectful family model established and new methods for handling problems and conflict that will prevent further re-offences of violence and abuse by young people who are being abusive.

Agreeing family safety is a priority of the programme and we will develop a ‘safety plan’ with families followed by support to assess the young person’s progress in staying non-violent and safe with family members. 

Families are supported through a programme of interactive workshops during a weekly 2-hour session, held in a local venue. Sessions will be delivered either as a whole ‘Family’ group or separate sessions with the young people and parents/carers.

Please email for up-to-date referral information.

Domestic Abuse Supported Accommodation

Support is available to those who are fleeing DA, including adults and their children. There is a Statutory Duty to provide accommodation and support. Please contact your local District Council. 

Further Domestic Abuse Sources of Support

Contact details of the districts, local and national support services can be found HERE Click here to access the free, independent Legal Advice for Victims of DA.  

For lone children in cases where adults have been removed, please contact the Safeguarding Hub

    Multi-Agency Procedures






    Safety Planning



     Independent Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Advisors



    Domestic and Sexual Abuse Champions Network



    • Contact us
    • Disclaimer
    • Cookies