This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone however there is still help, advice and support for anyone that is experiencing domestic abuse. If you are at immediate risk you must still ring 999. Find details of where and how to get free, confidential advice and support here
Alcohol (and other drugs) do not cause domestic abuse. However, both perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse may drink alcohol. This briefing offers some considerations relating to alcohol and domestic violence during the restrictions placed on households as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is domestic abuse?
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
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. This is not a legal definition
It’s often difficult to tell if domestic abuse is happening, because it usually takes place in the family home and abusers can act very differently when other people are around.
Children who witness domestic abuse may:
- become aggressive
- display anti-social behaviour
- suffer from depression or anxiety
- not do as well at school – due to difficulties at home or disruption of moving to and from refuges.
Living in a home where there’s domestic abuse is harmful. It can have a serious impact on a child’s behaviour and wellbeing. Children are individuals and may respond to witnessing abuse in different ways. These are some of the effects described in a briefing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004):
- They may become anxious or depressed
- They may have difficulty sleeping
- They have nightmares or flashbacks
- They can be easily startled
- They may complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches
- They may start to wet their bed
- They may have temper tantrums
- They may behave as though they are much younger than they are
- They may have problems with school
- They may become aggressive or they may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people
- They may have a lowered sense of self-worth
- Older children may begin to play truant or start to use alcohol or drugs
- They may begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves
- They may have an eating disorder
Children may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless or confused. They may have ambivalent feelings towards both the abuser and the non-abusing parent.
Parents or carers may underestimate the effects of the abuse on their children because they don’t see what’s happening.
Abuse in teenage intimate partner relationships
Abuse and violence in teenage intimate partner relationships is a growing area of concern. There is a specific Risk Assessment Tool for young people aged 13-18 and suggestions for consideration when safety planning with teens.
Commonly known as ‘Clare’s law’, this scheme allows individuals to ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past (the ‘right to ask’). If police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic violence from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information.
Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)
A MARAC, or multi-agency risk assessment conference, is a meeting where information is shared on the highest risk domestic abuse cases between representatives of local police, probation, health, child protection, housing practitioners, Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) and other specialists from the statutory and voluntary sectors.
After sharing all relevant information about a victim, representatives discuss options for increasing safety for the victim and turn these options into a co-ordinated action plan. The primary focus of the MARAC is to safeguard the adult victim.
Information about tools to support referrals and the MARAC referral form can be found in the practitioners tool box
Domestic Homicide reviews
A domestic homicide review is carried out when a person has been killed as a result of domestic violence. It attempts to identify what happened, and what needs to change to reduce risk in the future. This document provides an analysis of what is known about domestic homicide and draws out common themes and trends and identifies learning that emerged across a sample of DHRs
Support and further information
0808 2000 247 Freephone 24 hr domestic violence helpline
The National Stalking Helpline:
Freephone helpline (9.30am – 4 pm weekdays, except Wednesdays when we open at 1 pm) – 0808 802 0300
A list of useful contact details is also available