Domestic, sexual violence and abuse

Excellence in practice – engaging with families at risk of domestic violence and abuse

Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) is a very common issue that impacts on the health and well-being of  individuals, families and local communities. Living with or witnessing domestic violence is identified as a source of significant harm. It is important to remember that DVA can affect children (including unborn infants) which may consequently suffer from a range of health, developmental and behavioural difficulties.

Health visitors, as providers of  universal health services in pregnancy and the first five years of life, are well  placed to offer early DVA support to help the families  who maybe at risk of, or experiencing, DVA. Health visitors are an integral part of the NHS. We have special training and experience in child health, health promotion and education.  We offer practical support and advice in a host of diverse situations including DVA. If we are unable to help clients ourselves, we can direct our clients to the people who can.

Health visitors are skilled professionals who have knowledge about a range of DV-related issues and have contact with many other specialist practitioners in the following areas: alcohol and drug misuse, depression, disability, housing and homelessness.  We are skilled in holistic assessment that incorporates being understanding, supportive, empowering and encouraging our clients to think about options.  We are able to provide information, advice and intervention strategies to parents and their children. We enable our clients to access specialised services and support them in making the transition from being a victim to being a survivor. This has real potential to improve the health and well-being of children, families and communities. Your health visitor will be able to undertake a risk assessment, which includes the risk to the children and discuss the broader multi-agency response (Marac) without overburdening you. This is a monthly forum where multiple agencies get together to provide both a co-coordinated response and support for you and your children. 

The specialist health visitor/DV lead represents our services at Domestic Violence forum and at Marac.  The DV lead works closely with partners across communities, including local government, education, housing, the voluntary sector, faith organisations and many others to influence local public health policy as well as at national level by contributing to national training and Department of Health initiatives.

Weekly support is offered in two refuges in Harrow which involves developing new approaches to helping women and children in the refuge manage their own care, including all aspects of their health. It also includes tackling the impact of domestic violence on mothers' and children’ s health and  emotional well-being.

We are here to help you and your family. You can contact your health visitor direct who can then arrange to see you at your home or at a local venue. Contacting your local surgery or health centre will put you in touch with a health visitor. Our aim is to help you lead as healthy a life as possible, both physically and emotionally.

For more specific advice please contact Tanya Dennis, domestic violence lead based at Honeypot Lane Clinic on 020 8951 1989. 

Useful links

For patients

Advice Service: Women and Girls Network

Compass Hidden Harm Service

DeafHope UK

Domestic-Sexual Abuse Help-lines

For professionals

Barnado's Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix

Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA): Forced marriage

CAADA DASH risk assessment form

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance: Domestic violence and abuse

Tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK: intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting

Good Practice Guidance for School Nurses: Domestice violence and abuse

Good Practice Points: Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic and Sexual Violence (DSV) Risk and Referral Pathways

Health Impacts of Domestic Violence

No.5: Domestic Violence and Abuse - Professional guidance

Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC): Consent for information sharing

MARAC risk assessment form

MARAC referral form