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BASW England releases new Domestic Abuse Guidance for social workers

* Download the BASW England Domestic Abuse Guidance *

** Watch the BASW England Domestic Abuse Guidance launch event **

BASW England is pleased to announce the launch of new guidance for child and family social workers supporting victim-survivors of domestic abuse.

The publishing of this guidance comes at a critical time; the pandemic has seen a 61% increase in calls and contacts according to Refuge, as perpetrators weaponised lockdown conditions to further assert control.

Sadly, the increased demand for support coincides with severe cuts to domestic abuse services, with 86.7% having experienced one or more financial impact/s as a result of Covid-19. It is also timely given the heart-breaking news of the death of Sarah Everard, as well as those of women of colour such as Blessings Olusegun, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry – whose families still lack justice and answers. 

The guide was developed in collaboration with valued stakeholders including Women’s Aid, Galop, Southall Black Sisters, Sign Health, Karma Nirvana, Respect, AVA, Ann Craft Trust, Dr Michaela Rogers at the University of Sheffield, as well as people with lived experience and BASW members. 

BASW England extends heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed, especially to victim-survivors who shared their experiences with such courage.  

An intersectional approach is adopted throughout the guide, which recognises the interconnecting forms of oppression on survivor’s identities and lived experience of abuse and services. Such factors include, but are not limited to, race, age, religion, culture, immigration status, deafness, disability, LGBT+ rights, mental health, multiple disadvantage (including substance use and addiction) and poverty.

The guide aims to provide social workers with a trauma-informed understanding of patterns of domestic abuse within the above marginalised groups, as well as best practice and current research. Models of practice also guide also outlined as the guide outlines both The Safe & Together ™ Model as well as a Change that Lasts, both of which are evidenced-based and rooted in anti-oppressive practice. 

Our aim is for this guide to be as inclusive as possible, recognising that victims/survivors identify with a range of gender identities. However, we wish to acknowledge this whilst also recognising that most victims/survivors are in fact women, and that domestic abuse is a gendered crime, rooted in patriarchy, misogyny and male violence. Refusing to recognise this ignores the established evidence base and minimises women’s experiences. So, within this guide, we hope to carefully balance validating the experience of male victims/survivors in all their fullness, whilst also recognising that the broader picture shows that statistically, women are at greater risk.

The Domestic Abuse Bill which has been going through Parliament is due to return to the House of Commons on 15 April for MPs to consider amendments that the Lords have made. Included in the Bill is the creation of a statutory definition of domestic abuse, establishes in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner, and prohibits perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the civil and family courts. As legislation changes, this guide will be routinely updated to keep it up to date.

BASW England is proud to produce guidance rooted in the BASW Code of Ethics, with a commitment to social justice and human rights. We invite social workers to join us as we continue to advocate for a culture shift where women and girls can live in a society free from male violence and domestic abuse.