Introducing domestic abuse

1.1 Introduction

Digital badge and Statement of Participation

This suite of training modules has been produced by Support Through Court and the Open Justice Centre (Open University Law School). It contains a series of modules to support volunteers in their work with members of the public who are involved in court proceedings.

These first three key domestic abuse training modules provide advice and support on working with clients affected by domestic abuse, both survivors and alleged perpetrators.

There is a digital badge awarded for studying these key modules and you will also receive a Statement of Participation. To gain both of these you need to complete all three domestic abuse training modules and pass the Modules 1–3 knowledge assessment.

Welcome to this first training module on supporting clients where domestic abuse is a feature of their case. There are three domestic abuse modules and they are designed to be studied in order, from the first through to the third. These modules are:

1. Introducing domestic abuse

2. Supporting survivors of domestic abuse        

3. Supporting clients who are accused of perpetrating domestic abuse.

Approximately 1 in 10 cases [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   you deal with will feature domestic abuse. You will come across people who have experienced domestic abuse, perpetrators of abuse and those who have been accused of causing abuse. For some people, their experiences may make it more difficult for them to be involved with the court system, particularly where their case involves the alleged perpetrator of abuse. These training modules will assist you in feeling more confident in supporting clients in these situations.

Support Through Court do not want or expect volunteers to ‘diagnose’ domestic abuse or to become overly involved with clients. A three-step process for supporting clients, where domestic abuse is a feature of the case, is described in the module Supporting survivors of domestic abuse.

Please note

This module deals with some sensitive issues including descriptions of domestic abuse. These training modules are not compulsory, but they are recommended. If you do not feel comfortable to start the module, or if you are affected by the material, or feel you are unable to undergo the training, then Support Through Court can help you. Please speak to your Service Manager when you are next in the office.

If you need immediate support over the phone you can call:

National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 200 247

Learning outcomes

This first training module will help you understand domestic abuse and, in particular, controlling behaviour.

In this module you will learn about:

  • What domestic abuse is
  • Myths about domestic abuse
  • What coercive control is
  • Why survivors stay in abusive relationships.

This module is one of a number of training modules to help Support Through Court volunteers when supporting clients. The modules all use the same case study to explore the different aspects of supporting clients effectively. You will find details of the fictitious Johnson/Smith family and their situation in the next section of this module.

During the module you may come across terminology which is unfamiliar to you. Some words are hyperlinked to the Glossary, so by hovering over the word you will be able to see its definition.

Statistics around domestic abuse show that women are more likely to be survivors of abuse than men. For this reason, during the module we will be using ‘she’ to denote the survivor of domestic abuse and ‘he’ to denote the perpetrator, as this is the scenario you are more likely to come across in your volunteering.

However, domestic abuse can involve men as survivors and women as perpetrators, as well as abuse within same sex relationships. Support Through Court supports all clients regardless of their circumstances and so, you may come across different forms of relationships in your volunteering. This training will assist you to support clients whatever their gender or sexual orientation and regardless if they are alleged to have abused or are making allegations.

Domestic abuse used to be called Domestic Violence and some people still refer to it like that. However, because physical violence is only one form of domestic abuse, these days the broader term Domestic Abuse is preferred.

Whilst thinking about terminology we use the term ‘survivor’ in preference to ‘victim’ as survivor implies an active, creative, resourceful response (Women’s Aid, 2020). However, both terms can be used interchangeably, depending on the context.

Give your opinion

How would you rate your understanding of domestic abuse right now, before you start this module? Submit your answer.

1.2 Introduction to the Johnson/Smith family case study