New domestic abuse support service launches for Norfolk
People in Norfolk and their children who are at medium or high risk of serious harm from domestic abuse can now access a new, improved service to support their journey to freedom.
Norfolk Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (NIDAS) launched on 3 January 2022 and offers free, confidential and non judgemental support to those affected, and their children, to help them escape and recover from abuse.
This new service is funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council - along with South Norfolk and Broadland District Councils. It will be delivered in partnership with Leeway Domestic Violence & Abuse Services, Daisy Programme, Orwell Housing, Pandora Project and Safe Partnership.
Domestic abuse is an incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour - including sexual violence.
NIDAS trauma-informed, person centred skilled staff can support those at risk of harm to get to safety and will develop a personalised action plan with everyone they work with, to help people to move from abuse with increased confidence and well-being. The service will be operational seven days a week between 9am and 6.30pm on weekdays and between 9am and 3pm on weekends.
For more information visit the NIDAS website
Alternatively, NIDAS can be contacted in the following ways:
- call 0300 561 0555
- text 07860 063 464
- out of hours 0808 2000 247
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
Domestic Abuse Act 2021
This Act passed into law in April 2021 and it is expected that most of the changes will be implemented through 2021 and 2022, as guidance is developed in line with the new provisions.
The government have produced some factsheets to explain what the Act is designed to achieve and how it will do this. Below are just some of them, but you can see the full list here.
Domestic abuse refers to an incident, or pattern of incidents of violence or abuse, including controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, by someone who is or has been an intimate partner or family member, regardless of gender or sexuality. Domestic abuse is not just about partners – it can relate to all family relationships including forced marriage.
For this type of abuse the age range is extended down to 16. It includes:
- psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse
- so called ‘honour’ based violence
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- it also includes being a witness to domestic abuse of another person.
The Norfolk County Community Safety Partnership has produced a series of short films for people to think about the different types of domestic abuse - you can see them on the Norfolk County Council website here.
Remember men can experience domestic abuse too - there is information on support for male victims on the Norfolk County Council pages too.
A key issue with domestic abuse is the length of time victims will stay in the abusive relationship - for a powerful insight into why this might be, watch this 15 minute video:
Coercive control is now recognised as the behaviour that underpins much domestic abuse. It is a pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away the victim’s sense of self, minimising their freedom of action and violating their human rights. This can happen through isolation, threats, intimidation, punishments, until the victim's 'choices' are no longer their own.
A new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate and family relationships was introduced in the Serious Crime Act 2015. The Home Office published statutory guidance at the same time, giving more detail.
“The offence closes a gap in the law around patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour during a relationship between intimate partners, former partners who still live together, or family members, sending a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to you, providing better protection to victims experiencing continuous abuse and allowing for earlier identification, intervention and prevention.” (Care Act Guidance section 14.22)
Research in Practice for Adults (RiPfA) has a range of resources to support social workers to put the law into practice, in their open access account. They have some short video introductions to coercive control of people with care and support needs.
The quick video below also helps us to understand where the line may be in relationships:
CoCoAwareness: Luke Hart, and his brother Ryan Hart, share their family’s story of coercive control and domestic homicide. In 2017 they released their book, Remembered Forever, and set up their organization, CoCoAwareness, to increase the awareness of coercive control. So far, their work has taken them to over 13 countries and they have trained tens of thousands of professionals in identifying, understanding, and ending domestic abuse.
They are White Ribbon Ambassadors and Refuge Champions speaking out against male violence towards women and children. They have also worked with the charity Level Up to produce and advocate for the acceptance of domestic homicide reporting guidelines and have received a number of awards for their work in raising awareness – including the Lincolnshire Police Outstanding Contribution to Public Service 2018/2019, BBC Inspirations 2020 award and the Big Issue’s Top 100 Changemakers of 2020.
Luke and Ryan have spoken to many colleagues in Norfolk through seminars organised by NSAB, they are powerful and inspiring speakers with a very personal view of this subject to share.
Read more about their work and view their website here.
S42 (safeguarding adults) and domestic abuse
Situations where domestic abuse occurs will not necessarily involve those who have care and support needs, and as a result are unable to protect themselves. Norfolk has well-established domestic abuse services, support and pathways and there are some links to more information below.
However, where the safeguarding duties apply, and a s42 enquiry is taken forward, workers will use the process to focus on the specific needs of that adult at risk, identifying their desired outcomes (Making Safeguarding Personal) while still including advocacy, ensuring multi-agency support (which can include police investigation) and enabling access to specialist domestic abuse support in the same way as the standard domestic abuse pathways.
Research (mainly on women) has shown that domestic abuse has additional impacts on people with care and support needs – for example:
- Being disabled strongly affects the nature, extent and impact of abuse. Research has shown that people’s impairments are frequently used in the abuse, including humiliation.
- Many abusers deliberately use and increase dependency on them as a way of asserting and maintaining control; where the abusive person is also the carer, they have considerable power and control as the victim relies on them.
- Sexual abuse appears to be proportionately more common for disabled than for non-disabled women, perhaps reflecting particular vulnerabilities.
- Perpetrators often use forms of abuse that exploit, or add to, the abused person’s impairment. (Making the Links, Women’s Aid 2008)
Domestic abuse and older people
Abuse can occur at any age and is often under reported over age 65. Safeguarding often considers ‘carer’s stress’ when incidents occur, and while one-off events do happen, it needs to be explored to see if there are any patterns or history. Older generations will view marriage and relationships in what we consider quite old-fashioned ways now – think about the vows, “to love, honour and obey”, come what may. Men went out to work, women stayed at home and were often very dependent on their husbands for many things, especially money. Today we would consider if this was coercive control. Both sides will have been used to these roles.
Older victims are less likely to leave the abusive situation, for a wide range of reasons:
- love of abuser
- generational acceptance of the abuse
- fear of repercussions, or not being believed
- fear of being institutionalised, losing what independence they do have
- loss of ability to communicate clearly
- the responsibility of being a carer or being cared for by an abuser
- disability or physical frailty
- fear of financial insecurity
- leaving treasured possessions and home of a lifetime, pets
- lack of sense of entitlement
- responses of family members / adult children
Older people may have been victims for a very long time; they may be dependent on care provided by their abusers; they are more restricted by the impact of age, frailty or disability; in Norfolk we have a lot of older people living in isolated rural areas.
Workers may not recognise domestic abuse in older adults, perhaps seeing the more obvious abuse categories first, e.g. physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse.
The perpetrator may also have care needs – someone with a dementia may hit out at their carer or be verbally abusive.
This applies to men and women – remember to avoid gender bias and stereotyping, women can be the abuser too. Men may find it harder to admit that they are being abused or feel they will not be believed. Carers of any gender can abuse or be abused. Many services supporting victims of domestic abuse are tailored towards women, which can limit the options for men.
Domestic Homicide Reviews
Domestic Homicide Reviews are locally conducted multi-agency reviews of the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by:
- a person to whom he or she was related, or with whom he or she was or had been in an intimate personal relationship; or,
- a member of the same household as himself or herself.
NSAB currently publishes Norfolk DHRs on behalf of Norfolk Community Safety Partnership.