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3.5 Domestic Violence and Abuse


Categories of Abuse

Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)


Domestic violence and abuse (GOV.UK)

Domestic abuse (

Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service

Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship – statutory guidance framework (Home Office)

DoH guidance on Coercive Control

Domestic violence often includes a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are, in themselves, inherently 'violent' - hence some people prefer to use the term 'domestic abuse' rather than 'domestic violence'. We have included both terms in this chapter to support ‘word searching’ and raise awareness.

The cross-governmental revised definition of domestic violence and abuse is:

‘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:

  • Psychological;
  • Physical;
  • Sexual;
  • Financial;
  • Emotional.

Controlling behaviour: 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'.

Whatever form it takes, incidents of domestic violence or abuse are rarely one-off events and should instead be seen as a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over the victim. Children are also affected both directly and indirectly and there is also a strong correlation between domestic violence and child abuse.

Effective safeguarding is achieved when agencies share information to obtain an accurate picture of the risk and work together to ensure the safety of the Adult at Risk is prioritised. In high-risk situations it may be relevant to access the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) process (see Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC)).