Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse: HM Government Consultation

The UK Government is consulting on proposed changes to the law on domestic abuse. The consultation runs from March 8th to May 31st, 2018, and you can access the consultation documents, published by the Home Office here. As well as the full version, a shorter document can also be viewed.

The consultation covers the introduction of a new statutory definition, measures to protect and support victims, and to pursue and deter predators, and ways of improving performance and the collection and use data.

Adolescent to parent violence and abuse has been officially recognised as an aspect of domestic abuse, by the government, since 2015 with the publication of the APVA Information Guide. Somewhat disappointingly, there has however been little added to the conversation since then, and so I was pleased to be invited to a recent round table discussion on the proposals. While there are seemingly similarities between intimate partner violence and child to parent, or adolescent to parent, violence and abuse, there are sufficient differences for some to feel uncomfortable about aligning the two. Nevertheless, as is recognised in the consultation document, exposure to domestic abuse as a child can have serious consequences, with 25% of children going on to exhibit abusive behaviours once the abuser has left, and so, at the very least, it is important to look at how preventive work can be developed and improved.

Within the legislation, the new definition would continue to encompass only young people aged 16 or over, but there is a question about whether this is appropriate. Maintaining this age limit is seen as important (within the document) because of the risk of “blurring lines between what is understood as domestic abuse or child abuse and the impact on the delivery of child protection and safeguarding procedures.” (p14)

Some “excellent help” is said to be found within Children’s Social Care, but there is also recognition of inconsistencies in the response. This will come as no surprise to families experiencing violence and abuse from their children. The document discusses the need for agencies to work together better, both in terms of accessing help and in providing proper support, something which is often highlighted as essential in supporting families.

Chapter 3, on pursuing and deterring predators, opened up again for me the fundamental question about whether it is appropriate to think about child and adolescent to parent abuse within this framework. With developing understanding of both the background of children and families, and a focus on restorative, therapeutic responses, this might seem an odd call. Three things to think about:

  • there are many and varied roots and routes to CPV / APVA
  • this only applies to 16 year olds and over
  • there is discussion of out of court disposals

Data collection, as discussed in chapter 4, has long been an issue within CPV / APVA and so the focus on this is welcomed.

If the document is relevant to your personal or work life, then please do take the opportunity to respond – there is no obligation to answer every question. Whichever field is the focus of your attention, there will be additional questions that are relevant, and to which you can bring your expertise. Details of how to access the government response to the consultation, once completed, are included.


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Child to parent violence: Is it increasing?

Campaigning in this field, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “Is it increasing?” whether from journalists, interested members of the public, friends, professionals or families themselves. I admit to finding this a struggle to answer. Without a proper baseline, how can we ever tell? Are you asking for solid evidence or an anecdotal and impressionistic response? The logical, social scientist bit of me screams in pain as I offer the answer “possibly, probably”. Continue reading

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Child to Parent Violence to be debated at the House of Commons

UK folk, and particularly those based in London, may be interested in a debate tabled for Wednesday 21st February in Westminster Hall, at the House of Commons.


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Child to parent violence and sexually inappropriate behaviour

When authors discuss the different ways in which child to parent violence and abuse presents, it is common to include sexual abuse in the list; and yet it is difficult to find anywhere in the literature where this discussion is expanded. I know from conversations with adoptive families that the issue is very much alive, and extremely painful to discuss. While many families fear that a request for help will result in the instigation of a child protection investigation, this is an area where alarm bells will certainly be ringing straight away. How to respond though, in a way that maintains the safety of all involved, while not further traumatising either the young person or the parents, is rarely interrogated. A recent conversation with a friend undertaking a PhD at Bournemouth University has encouraged me that more information and greater discussion may be on the way! Continue reading


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CPVA survey 2018

At the end of 2016, Al Coates and Dr Wendy Thorley put out a survey to start exploring families’ experiences of child to parent violence, particularly within the adopter community. I was pleased to publicise it, and have since shared the reports (here and also available on the CEL&T website) which were generated from their enquiries. While it was acknowledged that there was nothing ground-breakingly new in their findings, the work was important in opening up the discussion and allowing it to move into a broader range of meetings and departments. Whether as a coincidence or a direct result, the last year did see significant increases in the open acknowledgement of this issue. Continue reading

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Non-Violent Resistance as a response to a “Wicked Problem”

Declan Coogan’s new book, Child to Parent Violence and Abuse: Family Interventions with Non-Violent Resistance, was published in November, and I am very pleased to finally be able to read and review it!

Coogan first encountered Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) as a therapeutic intervention in 2007, and has been instrumental in piloting it as a response to child to parent violence, offering training and consultation, and ultimately in introducing it as a nationwide model in Ireland. As such, he is very definitely qualified to present this book as an explanation of, and introduction to, the practice of NVR, particularly with reference to violence and abuse from children to parents. Continue reading

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“Hollyoaks Spoiler: Son and mother domestic abuse storyline”

Writing in the Metro last week, Soaps Editor, Duncan Lindsay revealed an interesting up-coming plot line in the soap, Hollyoaks.

Hollyoaks spoilers: Son and mother domestic abuse storyline revealed for Imran and Misbah Maalik. Duncan Lindsay for Wednesday 6 Dec 2017 Continue reading

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