Domestic abuse

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is a pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence. It is the misuse of power and control by one person over another.

Domestic abuse can be perpetrated by a partner, an ex-partner, or a family member (when two people are “personally connected” to each other). It is categorised as domestic abuse when both parties are 16 and over. It is never acceptable. It is very common and there are support services available to help.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse ( calling, put downs)
  • Physical (e.g. being hit) or sexual abuse (e.g. rape or degrading treatment)
  • Financial or economic abuse (e.g. having money withheld)
  • Stalking and Harassment
  • Online or digital 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 definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.)

Early warning signs

  • Being cut off from family and friends and being isolated
  • Suffering humiliation or being insulted in front of others
  • Constantly getting criticised and being told you can’t cope without them

Domestic abuse – who is impacted and how common is it?

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, religion, sexuality, or ethnicity.

Domestic abuse can have a devastating and long-term impact on a victim and their children. It can impact on their health and wellbeing including significant detrimental impact on self-esteem, mental wellbeing, and economic and employment prospects

  • Statistics illustrate most reported domestic abuse is carried out by men and experienced by women.
  • In the year ending March 2020, it is estimated that 1.6 million females and 757,000 males aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse.
  • On average the police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour. (HMIC, 2015)
  • According to CSEW data for the year ending March 2018, only 18% of women who had experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months reported the abuse to the police.
  • According to a Home Office Report between April 2020 and March 2021 there were 215 victims killed as a result of domestic abuse.

What support is available in Knowsley for those affected by Domestic Abuse

Specialist Community Based Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support

Knowsley has an established victim/survivor support offer (for those aged 16+) that ensures that when referred, all victims of domestic abuse are offered support, regardless of their risk level.

  • Knowsley Council’s Safer Communities Service offer Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support to victim/survivors of domestic abuse who are referred to the service by Police or other professionals.
  • The First Step Project (Knowsley’s Independent Specialist Domestic Abuse Agency) who support to victim/survivors of domestic abuse through a self-referral pathway.
  • Knowsley Council also fund The First Step Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy (IDSVA) Service to provide the offer of support to high-risk victims of Domestic Abuse, (high risk of serious injury or murder). High risk victims are referred to the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC).
  • Knowsley Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) meets fortnightly to discuss any new domestic abuse high risk cases, agree actions and review previous cases to ensure appropriate support is in place to reduce risks to individuals referred.

Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Support

There are times when victim/survivors and their children need increased security measures and support services within their own home or need to move from their own home to safer accommodation due to a perpetrator’s behaviour.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021: The Act 2021 places a duty on local authorities to provide accommodation-based support to all domestic abuse victims and their children, regardless of their relevant protected characteristics. This support can take the form of advocacy support, advice, guidance, responses to complex needs and others as identified within the statutory guidance: Domestic abuse support within safe accommodation - GOV.UK (

Knowsley Housing Solutions Service: When an individual or family are at risk or currently homeless, they are referred to Knowsley Housing Solutions Service where their individual and family needs are assessed to identify and review their housing/homeless status, individual and family support needs.

The Knowsley Women & Children’s Refuge provides accommodationbased service for women and children escaping domestic abuse. It accommodates single women and women and children. The refuge is staffed 24/7 with support staff and specialist children’s workers.

Sanctuary Support Scheme: Enables victim/survivors of Domestic Abuse to remain in their own homes, where it is safe for them to do so, where it is their choice, and where the perpetrator does not live in the accommodation. This is achieved by providing advocacy support and the provision of additional security within the home or to the perimeter of the property, ‘installing a sanctuary’.

Support for Children - Dedicated Children’s Pathway

Children are now recognised as victims of domestic abuse in their own right. Therefore, recognising the impact of domestic on children, Knowsley  have developed needs led support for children. This means that children will have access to emotional and wellbeing support appropriate to their individual needs.

Operation Encompass aims to support children, by ensuring police communicate directly with schools to inform them that an incident of Domestic Abuse has happened in a child’s home enabling schools to provide timely and appropriate support.

Targeted and Specialist services; Those families who are open to Targeted Early Help and Children’s Services will also receive support via the lead practitioner or family support worker. This will involve safety planning for children to enable them to identify and recognise the abuse in the home, understand it is not their fault and enable them to keep themselves safe if an incident occurs.

Therapeutic interventions for children Individual and group work sessions are provided to children who have been impacted upon by Domestic Abuse.

Therapeutic interventions for children (Schools) Schools can refer children who have witnessed or have been part of domestic abuse for counselling sessions. These sessions can take place in school or remotely depending on the needs of the child.

Mental health support worker All Knowsley secondary schools and most Knowsley primary schools also have access to a mental health support worker in the school setting.


If you are worried that someone you are afraid of may find out you have viewed this web page Women’s Aid have information about how to cover your tracks!

How can I access support or report domestic abuse?

If you or anyone you know requires support relating to Domestic Abuse, please refer to the following advice and support services.

In an emergency please always call the police on: 999

Local Support Services: Monday – Friday

Knowsley Council Safer Communities Domestic Abuse Service:
Tel: 0151 443 2610
or email: [email protected]  

The First Step (Specialist Independent Domestic Abuse Service):
Tel: 0151 548 3333

Knowsley Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub:
Tel: 0151 443 2600 (24 hours)

Housing Support: Knowsley Housing Solutions Service:
Tel: 0151 443 2333

Further support is also offered by these national agencies:

Regional and National Support Services

Further support is also offered by these national agencies:

  • Women’s Aid​ 

  • National Domestic Violence Helpline:

Tel: 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)

  • National Stalking Helpline:

Tel: 0808 802 0300

  • Worst Kept Secret Helpline

Tel: 0800 028 3398.

  • Refuge (includes information for men)
Tel: 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)

  • Karma Nirvana: (support for honour based abuse)

Tel: 0800 5999 247

  • Savera UK:

Tel 0800 1070726

  • The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors

Tel: 0808 801 0327.

  • Mankind
Tel 018 233 34244

  • National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline

Tel: 0800 999 5428.

  • Samaritans (24/7 service)

Tel: 116 123

  • Childline

Tel: 0800 1111

Domestic Abuse Perpetrators Responses

Recognising that to address the issue of domestic abuse, those responsible need to be accountable for their behaviour, Knowsley have an established perpetrator pathway for non-statutory perpetrators that runs alongside those statutory interventions delivered by The Probation Service.

Knowsley Council’s Safer Communities Service Choices Pathway work with residents who have been identified as perpetrators of domestic abuse. Based on voluntary engagement, those referred, are supported to change their behaviours to prevent re-offending and re-victimisation.

Domestic Abuse - is your behaviour hurting or affecting someone?

  • Do you argue with your partner/relative? 
  • Do put your partner/relative down? 
  • Do you break /destroy things? 
  • Do you shout a lot? 

Domestic abuse is;

  • Threatening behaviour;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Harassment;
    Physical attacks;
  • Controlling another person;
  • Intimidating another person;
  • Psychological, emotional or financial abuse between people who have been intimate partners, live in the same household or are family members. 

Domestic abuse is rarely a one off incident and tends to get more severe and happens more often over time, sometimes only ending when one person kills the other. If you are abusive to those you love/care about, there are a number of agencies who can support you and help break the cycle of abuse.

Blaming someone else for your behaviour/actions is abuse.   To recognise that you need help may take courage and strength. You can choose to acknowledge your responsibility.

Choose to stop – Contact:

  • Knowsley Council Safer Communities Domestic Abuse Service – The Choices Pathway: Tel: 0151 443 2610 or email: [email protected]  
  • RESPECT on 0808 802 4040 (free from landlines and most mobile phones)

Domestic Abuse - Honour based violence

What is Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGC?

A forced marriage is a marriage without the valid consent of both parties, where pressure or abuse is involved.
All involved should feel they have a choice and voice. Marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both parties.

Forced marriage

Forced marriage is a form of domestic abuse. Both women and men can be forced to marry and can suffer from honour based violence. It also cuts across many cultures and communities.

Pressure put on people to enter into marriage against their will may include physical and emotional abuse. Those involved may be made to feel that if they don't marry they will bring shame on their family.

Arranged marriages are not the same as forced marriages.

Relatives of both parties have an important role in choosing the marriage partner but the choice to marry or not is up to both parties.

Female Genital Cutting (FGC)

Female genital cutting (FGC) is also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), female circumcision, or female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), is any procedure involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs. This maybe for  cultural, religious or any other non therapeutic reason. The term FGC is usually used to describe cultural or religious procedures on a girl under the age of 16.

Consent of the parents is required because the girl is minor. The procedure when carried out on an adult with consent is usually described as clitoridectomy or may be part of labiaplasty or vaginoplasty.
It doesn't apply to sex reassignment surgery or the genital modification of intersexuals. FGC is mainly practiced in North East Africa, some areas of East and South East Asia. FGC is illegal in the UK
Forward was established in the UK in 1983 in response to the emerging problems caused by FGC. Since then Forward has been working to eliminate the practice and support those affected.

The most important thing you can do is tell someone you trust. Never be afraid to ask for help, even if you have previously asked but at that time you didn't feel it was the right time.
Support is available when you are ready.

What to do

If you or someone you know is being forced to marry you can contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU).

If you feel you maybe forced into marriage during a trip abroad contact the Forced Marriage Unit before you go.

If a relative or friend has not returned home from a trip abroad and you feel they maybe have been forced to marry again you can contact the Forced Marriage Unit.

It maybe helpful to the FMU if you can give them details such as where the person has gone, when they where due back and when you last heard from them.

The FMU can provide confidential information and advice to those involved. They work with agencies based in the UK and abroad to prevent forced marriages taking place.

Support and advice to those already in forced marriages is provided.
Anybody in the UK regardless of nationality will be offered advice and support.

In an emergency call 999!

FMU contact details

Tel 9am - 5pm Monday - Friday 020 7008 0151
Tel Global Response Centre (out of hours)  020 7008 1500
E-mail [email protected]
Website GOV.UK -Forced Marriage

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme or Clare's Law

The national Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme was introduced recently in Merseyside, also known as Clare's Law, it is named after Clare Wood who was murdered in 2009 by her former partner George Appleton, who had a record of violence against women.

The scheme provides a framework for the police to disclose information about an individual's history of domestic violence to a new partner. 
Disclosure requests can be made in person, online or  at any police station, proof of ID will be required.

There are two ways for disclosing information;

The Right to Ask
Anyone in an intimate relationship can ask about their partner's violent past, other friends or family members concerned about domestic abuse can also ask for information, but the police will only share information with the person at risk of harm.

After being asked for information the police will make a decision on whether to disclose based on current evidence and what is held on police systems. A risk assessment will be carried out before any information is shared.

The Right to Know
The police can decide if somebody should be told about their partners violent past, to keep them safe. This will happen if the couple come to the attention of the police for any reason. Again a risk assessment will be carried out before any disclosure is made.

Non-Disclosure Decisions
Such decisions will be made were it is felt that there is no further risk of harm or there is no additional information to share.

Merseyside Police started to use Domestic Violence Protection Orders or Go Orders in May 2014. They have two stages;

Stage 1: when the police have reasonable grounds to believe that somebody has used or threatened violence towards somebody else and the victim is at risk of more violence, they can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN).

Stage 2: the case will be heard in the magistrates' court within two days of the DVPN being issued. If granted by the court, the DVPO can last between 14 days and 28 days, depending on what the court think is fair. 

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021

In April 2021 The Domestic Abuse Act was enacted to support victims of domestic abuse Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 aims is to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that agencies will do everything possible to support them and their children and pursue the perpetrator through the introduction of new legal tools and powers.
The Act sets out a statutory definition of domestic abuse and a broad range of behaviours which may constituent domestic abuse and it identifies children impacted upon by domestic abuse as victims.
The Act defines the following behaviours as “abusive”, if it consists of:
physical or sexual abuse.

  • violent or threatening behaviour
  • controlling or coercive behaviour (including when a relationship has ended)
  • economic abuse
  • psychological, emotional, or other abuse

Knowsley Domestic Abuse Partnership Board

In Knowsley Council the responsibility for support to victims and adult offenders of domestic abuse falls within the remit of the Communities and Neighbourhoods Portfolio. The Knowsley Domestic Abuse Partnership Board is responsible for overseeing the coordination, the offer and delivery of domestic abuse support services to victims and children and support and challenge to those who perpetrate the abuse.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 places a statutory duty on tier one local authorities in England to appoint a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board. The Board supports the Council and provides strategic oversight on the issue of Domestic Abuse in Knowsley and reports back to The Community Safety Partnership, The Council and Government on delivering the duties in line with statutory guidance. The Board performs certain specified statutory functions, and these are to:

  • Assess the need of Domestic Abuse victims and their children.
  • Review service provision for domestic abuse and safe accommodation.
  • Develop and implement a Domestic Abuse Strategy.
  • Review commissioning arrangements and investments in domestic abuse services

The Knowsley Domestic Abuse Strategy

Part 4 of The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 places statutory duties on Local Authorities to undertake a Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment (Safe Accommodation Support) so that the support needs of those impacted upon by Domestic Abuse can be identified.
The  Act requires Local Authorities to take the findings from this needs assessment and publish a section 57 Domestic Abuse Strategy by 5th January 2022.
The Knowsley Domestic Abuse Strategy 2022-2025 outlines the Vision and priorities in relation to the multi-agency provision and responses for victims, children impacted upon by domestic abuse and those perpetrators who are causing the abuse. The document outlines the current offer to those impacted upon by domestic abuse, the gaps in the current provision and how Knowsley will implement the statutory duties associated with the provision of safe accommodation and support services as required by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021
This Strategy whilst led by Knowsley Council, was developed in partnership with agencies across the sectors to ensure that it provides a framework for co-ordinated action to tackle domestic abuse in Knowsley. Download the Knowsley Domestic Abuse Strategy 2022-25
The strategy will be reviewed annually by The Domestic Abuse Partnership Board, and it will be flexible to the changes in need or prevalence and responsive to user voice and feedback. The strategy outlines the domestic abuse partnership priorities for Knowsley for the next three years, how partners will work together to achieve it and how we will take forward the Vision that:

Knowsley has a zero-tolerance approach to domestic abuse. We want to build communities where domestic abuse is socially unacceptable, where those impacted know how to access support, feel safe and confident to engage with support services

Knowsley Domestic Abuse Priorities 2022 - 2025

  • Priority 1: Equipping the workforce to understand and respond to Domestic Abuse and Coercive Control
  • Priority 2: The victim voice and community engagement processes are central to the development of Domestic Abuse Strategies and Reponses
  • Priority 3: Interventions respond to the lived experience of victims of Domestic Abuse, are victim led and trauma informed and include specialist domestic abuse advocacy support.
  • Priority 4: Implementation of early intervention and prevention responses with children as victims of Domestic Abuse
  • Priority 5: Respond to the safe accommodation housing and support needs of those victims and children impacted upon by Domestic Abuse
  • Priority 6: To hold those that cause the harm and perpetrate Domestic Abuse to account and ensure support and challenge through appropriate behaviour change programmes.
  • Priority 7: Work with the partnership to develop and implement Employee Domestic Abuse Workplace policy and support across the borough
  • Priority 8: To Increase the social and community awareness of Domestic Abuse and pathways to support within Knowsley

For further information regarding this strategy please contact: contact: [email protected]
Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHR)
The Knowsley Community Safety Partnership are responsible for undertaking a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) where the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a relative, household member or someone they had been in an intimate relationship with.

The purpose of a DHR is to consider the circumstances that led to the death and identify where responses to the situation could be improved in the future. In so doing, the lessons learned will be taken on board by the professionals and agencies involved, such as the police, social services, councils, and other community-based organisations.

A review panel, lead by an independent chair, is commissioned to undertake the DHR and a panel overseeing the review is made up of members of local statutory and voluntary agencies. The panel will review each agency's review of their involvement in the case and consider recommendations to improve responses to domestic abuse in the future. They will also have the chance to hear from family, friends and work colleagues who may be able to help us understand the impact of agency's involvement with the victim or the perpetrator.

DHR's are not enquiries into how someone died or who is to blame. They are not part of any disciplinary process. They do not replace, but will be in addition to, an inquest or any other form of enquiry into the homicide.
In this way, agencies will improve their responses to domestic abuse and work better together to prevent such tragedies occurring in the future. Through our website, we will publish the reports and findings of these reviews as they become available.
Knowsley Domestic Homicide Reviews:
Domestic homecide review - executive summary

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