Supporting survivors of domestic abuse

2.1 Introduction

Welcome to this second training module on supporting clients who are survivors of domestic abuse. There are three domestic abuse modules and they are designed to be studied in order, from the first 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

Have you completed the first domestic abuse module, Introducing domestic abuse?

If you have not yet studied the first domestic abuse module, please do this before studying this second module. Go to Introducing domestic abuse [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Approximately 1 in 10 cases 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 later in this module.

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 second training module will help you to support clients who are survivors of domestic abuse.

In this module you will learn about:

  • How understanding domestic abuse helps you to better support domestic abuse survivors
  • How to help a client who is experiencing or has experienced domestic abuse
  • How to help clients evidence domestic abuse.

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. We will be referring to this example as we work though this module, so it may be helpful to remind yourself of the facts now. You may want to open this case study in a separate window (use Ctrl + click on the link) so you can refer back to it when needed. Find out more about the fictitious Johnson/Smith family and their situation.

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 victims 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 supporting survivors of domestic abuse right now, before you start this module? Submit your answer.

2.2 What is domestic abuse?