Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence and abuse

Information, guidance and resources on preventing and addressing domestic violence and abuse.

Domestic and sexual abuse covers different issues:

  • domestic violence and abuse (DVA) including teen abuse and parent abuse
  • sexual violence and rape
  • forced marriage and so-called honour based violence
  • female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • human trafficking and sexual exploitation
  • sexual harassment and sexual bullying

Domestic violence and abuse

Bristol Against Violence and Abuse (BAVA) defines DVA as:

“The misuse of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological or financial control by one person over another with whom they are or have been in a relationship. This includes family members.”


  • covers a wide range of behaviours and may be actual or threatened
  • includes using children to control an adult victim, and as such, child abuse and domestic abuse can overlap
  • is a continuing pattern of events, behaviour and forceful control
  • happens in all sections of society but may be more likely depending on your race, sexuality, disability, age, religion, culture, class or mental health

The government defines DVA as:

"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"

Read more in the Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls progress report.

Adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA)

The Home Office has developed and published information for people working with children and families on how to identify and address the risks created by adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA).

Who is affected by domestic violence and abuse

Domestic abuse happens within an intimate relationship, between people who used to be in an intimate relationship, or between family members.

Anyone can be a victim of abuse regardless of:

  • age
  • race
  • income
  • religion or belief
  • gender
  • disability
  • culture
  • sexual orientation

However, some people may be more vulnerable to abuse. For example, women and girls are more likely to have experienced domestic and sexual violence than boys and men.

In Bristol, 81% of domestic abuse cases involve women as victims and men as perpetrators.

The mission of the Bristol Against Violence and Abuse Strategy 2015-2020 is to:

  • take a zero tolerance approach to domestic and sexual violence and abuse
  • effectively prevent gender-based violence and abuse through campaigns, education and training
  • support survivors to cope and recover from violence and abuse
  • hold abusers to account

Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Supporting you to be safe and feel safe, Police and Crime plan 2016 -21 focuses on improving the experience of the Criminal Justice System for victims of crime, particularly the most vulnerable.

This includes people experiencing a mental health crisis who come into contact with the police.

How domestic violence and abuse affects children and young people

According to the NSPCC, one in five children in the UK has been exposed to domestic violence. Children often go to school the next day with little or no support.

According to the NCPCC, if a child lives in a home where there's domestic abuse, they're likely to be at risk of other types of abuse, such as:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • neglect

Children who witness domestic violence may do worse in school. They might struggle with self-esteem and have trouble forming relationships (Byrne and Taylor 2007).

Girls are more likely than boys to report experiencing abuse in their relationships, regardless what age they are. About 66% of girls and 32% of boys aged 14 to 17 report having experienced one or more types of abuse from an intimate partner. (Barter et al, 2015).

Young adolescents between eleven and fourteen, are as likely to experience abuse as older teenagers (Barter et al, 2009). Young people, including those below 16, are as likely as adults are to experience severe abuse. (SafeLives, 2017)

Domestic violence has a devastating impact on children and young people which can last into adulthood.

Signs that a child may be abused

The NSPCC has put together some useful information about the signs and symptoms of different types of child abuse.

What schools can do

Report a concern about a child

Report a concern

Schools have an important role in:

  • identifying children who might be living with domestic violence
  • giving children a safe place to get support
  • stopping abuse from happening in the first place by helping children and young people to understand what a healthy relationship is

Young people consistently agree that violence prevention work should happen in the school. (Barter et al, 2015)

Best practice guidance

New government guidance for schools

In December 2017, the department for education published a new guidance document: ‘Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges (pdf, 299KB) (opens new window) ’.

This document offers advice for governing bodies, proprietors, headteachers, principals, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads and flags key resources for practitioners.

Resources including lesson plans

The Bristol Healthy Schools team offers:

The Sex Education Forum provides many resources on their website.

The Women’s Aid website has lots of useful resources and information including free lesson plans called Expect Respect.

Rise Above has useful videos and resources around relationships and consent.

GOV.UK guidance on domestic violence and abuse.

BAVA information on so-called honour-based violence.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary information on FGM.

BAVA information on human trafficking and modern day slavery.

Local services and initiatives

Bristol Against Violence and Abuse (BAVA)

The BAVA website has information, resources and training for professionals on all types of violence and abuse. It also has up to date information about local support services for children and young people and adults

Bristol Ideal

A list of standards for schools which can help promote healthy relationships and tackle domestic and sexual violence.

Bristol Zero Tolerance

An initiative set up by Bristol Women’s Commission, working towards Bristol becoming free from gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. Bristol is the first city in England to take on this challenge.

Spotlight on Young People and Domestic Abuse

SafeLives ‘spotlights’ series focuses on groups of victims who may be 'hidden' from services, or face additional barriers to accessing support. Each Spotlight brings together insight from survivors, practitioners, academics and other experts, alongside our own data.

The Survivor Pathway

The Survivor Pathway is an online resource for anyone wanting to know more about specialist sexual violence support services in the South West.

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