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Domestic Abuse


According to the Department of Health, every year about 750,000 children experience domestic violence. However, estimating the numbers is difficult given that many women do not report domestic violence or take many years to do so; consequently, the true figures are likely to be higher. “Even more worryingly, in families where there is domestic violence, children may also be physically and sexually abused. Research studies estimate that in 30–60% of domestic violence cases, the abusive partner is also abusing children in the family” (page 8, Improving safety, reducing harm: children, young people and domestic violence: a practical toolkit for front-line practitioners (2009), Department of Health)

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What is Domestic Abuse?

The government’s definition 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.”

Abuse can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional. It includes so-called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

East Sussex LSCB has produced guidance for professionals on responding to domestic abuse, including recognising signs (see Local Publications under Useful Links and Publications).

Can domestic abuse affect children?

Domestic abuse is a serious safeguarding issue.

Exposure to domestic abuse can have a significant impact on a child’s physical, behavioural and emotional development. The impact of abuse can include premature birth, low birth weight or brain damage, irritability, sleep disturbance, disruption of attachment, being withdrawn, passive or compliant, temper tantrums, eating disorders, bullying or being bullied, poor self esteem, drug or alcohol use and difficultly establishing healthy relationships.

Factors that may influence the impact of abuse include severity, frequency and nature of violence, length of time the child has been exposed to violence, the child’s demographics, the child’s capacity for, and actual, self protection and resilience, nature of relationship with non-abusing family members and access to external support.

Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) are meetings where information about high risk domestic abuse victims, those at risk of murder or serious harm, is shared between local agencies. By bringing all agencies together at a MARAC, a risk-focused, coordinated safety plan can be drawn up to support the victim. The aims of the East Sussex MARACs are to:

  • Promote victim safety and health and well-being of their children
  • Create a multi-agency action plan to tackle risks to ensure safety and to reduce repeat victimisation of domestic abuse, and
  • Improve agency accountability.

Domestic Violence Interventions for Children Group (DVIC) in East Sussex

The DVIC group supports children aged 4 to16 years old who have been exposed to domestic abuse. Children are split into age groups and attend a weekly group for 12 weeks. Mothers or female carers attend a separate group for 12 weeks to find out about the issues their children will be exploring and how they can best support them.

Children and young people want and need to talk about their experience of living with domestic abuse, but they are sometimes discouraged from doing so. They need a safe place where they feel respected and listened to. The DVIC programme gives them this safe place and helps them recover from their experience of domestic abuse and build healthy relationships in the future.

Training for professionals

East Sussex LSCB runs a number of courses on domestic abuse, including:

  • Domestic Abuse Recognition and Response
  • Domestic Abuse and the Impact on Children
  • Working with Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse and their Families, and
  • Young People: Victims and Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse.

Please see our training programme for further details.

Help available in East Sussex for Victims of Domestic Abuse

Phone 999 if someone is in danger and ask for the Police.

National Domestic Abuse Helpline – phone 0808 2000 247
Run in partnership by Refuge and Women’s Aid

24hr referral number for East Sussex Refuges – phone 07795 968 400
There are five refuges in East Sussex. Accommodation is usually a private bedroom for the woman and her children and shared bathrooms, lounge, kitchens, laundry, garden, etc., although the Eastbourne refuge offers self-contained flats. Accommodation is of a good standard, and bedding, towels, cooking equipment, and emergency provisions are provided.

Self-referrals as well as agency referrals are accepted, but the refuge staff will need to speak to the woman directly during the referral process. The telephone referral and assessment process is quick, with admission usually on the same day. Refuge staff encourage agencies to call them to discuss referrals, rather than to assume a woman will not be offered a space. During her stay at a refuge, a woman is provided with specialist support to meet her range of needs, such as exploring the impact of the domestic abuse, domestic abuse awareness, risk assessment and safety planning, legal support, debt advice, accessing health services, education, welfare benefits, and move-on accommodation.

Refuge operates a vacancy emailing list to inform agencies when Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes, Rother and Wealden refuges have a vacancy. To be added to this emailing list, please contact Jo Egan-Payne (jo_eganpayne@refuge.org.uk).

Sussex Police – phone 101 when it is not an emergency

CRI Community IDVA Service and CRI Children’s Therapeutic Service – phone 01424 716 629
Community IDVA Service
provides information, advocacy and practical and emotional support to women, men and children living with domestic abuse and violence in the East Sussex area. Their aim is to support people to make informed choices through their confidential service and they can support survivors through the court process. Children’s Therapeutic Service workers are trained and experienced in working with children, young people and their parents. They will work with parents and care givers to identify children who may be in need of individual therapeutic play sessions or counselling. Sessions are once a week on the same day, time and place in a child-friendly setting, during term time only.

Men’s Advice Line – phone 0808 801 0327
Confidential helpline for men who experience violence from their partners or ex-partners

Respect – phone 0808 802 4040
Information and advice line for anyone who is violent and/or abusive towards their partner

Housing Options Teams in East Sussex
Your local authority will explain your housing options. This may mean they can help you to stay safe in your own home or help you to find accommodation.

  • Eastbourne Housing Options Team – phone 01323 415 302
  • Hastings Housing Options Team – phone 01424 451 212
  • Lewes Housing Options Team – phone 01273 484 006
  • Rother Housing Options Team – phone 01424 787 999
  • Wealden Housing Options Team – phone 01323 443 501

Sanctuary Schemes in East Sussex
These help people to make their homes secure so that they are kept safe from a violent partner who may attempt to force entry.

  • Eastbourne Sanctuary Scheme – phone 01323 415 922
  • Hastings Sanctuary Scheme – phone 0845 274 1101
  • Lewes Sanctuary scheme – phone 01273 484 006
  • Rother Sanctuary Scheme – phone 01424 787 593
  • Wealden Sanctuary Scheme – phone 01323 443 380

Shelter – phone 0808 800 4444
Free national helpline for housing advice

Victim Support – phone 0845 30 30 900
Supports victims to cope with the effects of crime, including support through criminal procedures

Rights of Women Legal Advice Line – phone 0207 251 6577
Free, confidential legal advice for women by women

Migrant Helpline – phone 01424 461 225
Support and advice for asylum seekers and refugees living in East Sussex

Useful websites

This is ABUSE

Website for teenagers where they can get more advice and support on abusive relationships, violence, controlling behaviours and consent. The ‘This is Abuse’ campaign is aimed at preventing teenagers from becoming perpetrators and victims of abusive relationships

Coordinated Action against Domestic Abuse (CAADA)
CAADA provides practical tools, training, guidance, quality assurance, policy and data
to support professionals and organisations working with domestic abuse victims.
Their aim is to protect the highest risk victims and their children, those at risk of murder or
serious harm.

Refuge offers a range of services that gives women and children access to professional support whatever their situation. These include refuges, culturally specific services and outreach services. Refuge runs the National Domestic Violence Helpline in partnership with Women’s Aid.

Women’s Aid
Women’s Aid is a national charity working to end domestic violence against women
and children. They support a network of over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the UK. Women’s Aid runs the National Domestic Violence Helpline in partnership with Refuge.

The Hideout
This website provides useful information for children and young people about life in a
refuge, abusive relationships and support services. There are two separate areas, one for children and one for young people.

Penny Beale Memorial Fund
The Penny Beale Memorial Fund is an East Sussex charity working to raise awareness of domestic violence and provide support to victims. The charity provides education and training services.