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Abstract

In England and Wales, Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) are completed following domestic homicides. They provide multi-agency accounts of families living with domestic violence and abuse (DVA) and their interactions with services. This study addressed children’s involvement in domestic homicide. We analysed all DHRs where there were children under eighteen among those published in 2011–16. This yielded a sub-sample of fifty-five DHRs from a total of 142 reports. The extent of children’s exposure to homicide varied, with some directly witnessing the homicide, viewing the aftermath or calling for help. DHRs provided limited information on children’s needs or their future care and children were only rarely involved in the review process itself. Nearly a third of reports identified that children had previous experience of DVA and contact emerged as a means of sustaining control and intimidation. There was evidence of blinkered vision among professionals who missed indicators of DVA and failed to engage with perpetrators or listen to children. Practitioners need training and assessment tools that direct their attention onto children and knowledge of resources that enables identification of need and appropriate referrals. Law and practice should address children’s involvement in the DHR process and the risks embedded in child contact.

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... Coercive control, in particular, suppresses victimsurvivors' autonomy, liberty, personhood and dignity. 5 Analyses of hundreds of UK multiagency reviews of death and harm (domestic homicide reviews, safeguarding adults reviews, and serious case reviews) [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] show that the UK's National Health Service (NHS) has more contact with victims and perpetrators than any other agency or service. [7][8][9][10] One analysis illustrated that the NHS is the most common target for recommendations in domestic homicide reviews. ...
... [7][8][9][10] One analysis illustrated that the NHS is the most common target for recommendations in domestic homicide reviews. 7 A frequently cited failing across these analyses is that healthcare professionals (HCPs) did not properly document [6][7][8][9][10][11][12] and/or share information [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] related to DVA. Resultantly, no front-line professional had the whole picture of risk and no-one responded to the risk. ...
... [7][8][9][10] One analysis illustrated that the NHS is the most common target for recommendations in domestic homicide reviews. 7 A frequently cited failing across these analyses is that healthcare professionals (HCPs) did not properly document [6][7][8][9][10][11][12] and/or share information [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] related to DVA. Resultantly, no front-line professional had the whole picture of risk and no-one responded to the risk. ...
Article
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Background Over two million adults experience domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in England and Wales each year. Domestic homicide reviews often show that health services have frequent contact with victims and perpetrators, but healthcare professionals (HCPs) do not share information related to DVA across healthcare settings and with other agencies or services. Aim We aimed to analyse and highlight the commonalities, inconsistencies, gaps and ambiguities in English guidance for HCPs around medical confidentiality, information sharing or DVA specifically. Setting The English National Health Service. Design and method We conducted a desk-based review, adopting the READ approach to document analysis. This approach is a method of qualitative health policy research and involves four steps for gathering, and extracting information from, documents. Its four steps are: (1) Ready your materials, (2) Extract data, (3) Analyse data and (4) Distill your findings. Documents were identified by searching websites of national bodies in England that guide and regulate clinical practice and by backwards citation-searching documents we identified initially. Results We found 13 documents that guide practice. The documents provided guidance on (1) sharing information without consent, (2) sharing with or for multiagency risk assessment conferences (MARACs), (3) sharing for formal safeguarding and (4) sharing within the health service. Key findings were that guidance documents for HCPs emphasise that sharing information without consent can happen in only exceptional circumstances; documents are inconsistent, contradictory and ambiguous; and none of the documents, except one safeguarding guide, mention how coercive control can influence patients’ free decisions. Conclusions Guidance for HCPs on sharing information about DVA is numerous, inconsistent, ambiguous and lacking in detail, highlighting a need for coherent recommendations for cross-speciality clinical practice. Recommendations should reflect an understanding of the manifestations, dynamics and effects of DVA, particularly coercive control.
... Their involvement can help to center the victim's experience and ensure that her story is not erased. Stanley et al. (2019) note the limited involvement of children in DVFR/DHRs despite their active role in experiencing DVA, witnessing the homicide and calling for help. Alisic et al. (2017) note that adults may wrongly assume that children did not directly witness or "take in" a domestic homicide. ...
... The 11 studies analyzed DVFR/DHRs and the processes used to produce them from several perspectives, either focusing on individual DVFR/DHRs (Benbow et al., 2019;Pobutsky et al., 2014;Robinson et al., 2019;Stanley et al., 2019), annual reports from different jurisdictions (Bugeja et al., 2015;Jaffe & Juodis, 2006;Pow et al., 2015;Reif & Jaffe, 2019), undertaking a survey of those involved in DVFR/DHRs (Storer et al., 2013) or presenting personal reflections on the DVFR/DHR process (Albright et al., 2013;Bent-Goodley, 2013). All made recommendations about the approaches made to producing DVFR/DHRs in their respective jurisdictions and to preventing DVA and future domestic homicides. ...
... Training that alerts professionals to perpetrators' controlling tactics and develops their ability to encompass wider underpinning evidence, was considered essential (Robinson et al., 2019). Addressing professionals' different training needs may be augmented through goodquality supervision (Stanley et al., 2019). Increasing public awareness regarding DVA prevention and services was also recommended by Pobutsky et al. (2014), Pow et al. (2015), and Reif and Jaffe (2019). ...
Article
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Domestic Violence Fatality Reviews/ Domestic Homicide Reviews (DVFRs/DHRs) are multi-agency reviews aimed at reducing domestic homicides. This study systematically reviews research that examines DVFR/DHR recommendations, impact of these recommendations and proposals for improving DVFR/DHR processes. A narrative synthesis was adopted due to the diversity of the 11 studies reviewed. Themes identified from recommendations included: training and awareness; service provision and coordination; and recommendations for children. Regarding DVFR/DHR processes, standardisation, diverse teams and additional resources were highlighted. There was little evidence of whether DVFR/DHR recommendations were implemented. Findings can strengthen DVFR/DHR operationalisation and impacts.
... Meanwhile, scholarship has largely focused on the secondary analysis of cases and associated recommendations (Sharp-Jeffs and Kelly, 2016; Home Office, 2016b). In other examples, DHRs have been used to explore the experience of specific cohorts, including older people or children (Bracewell et al, 2021;Benbow et al, 2019;Stanley et al, 2019); patterns in abusive relationships (Monckton Smith, 2020); particular forms of abuse (Todd et al, 2021); and system responses (Dheensa, 2020;SCIE, 2020). ...
... Some broader reflections on the DHR system, in particular its limitations, have been reported. One re-occurring theme, related to the focus of this article, is the quality and content of DHR reports (Home Office, 2016a; Stanley et al, 2019). Concerns include, for example, the problematic recording of ethnicity data (Benbow et al, 2019;Chantler et al, 2020). ...
... The issues identified are further illustrated when considering the aggregation and dissemination of DHR findings. DHRs are time-and resource-intensive; therefore it is essential that resultant learning is accessible and subject to regular aggregate analysis (Benbow et al, 2019;Stanley et al, 2019). The absence of both a repository to date and routine analysis of DHRs has been highlighted and is something we return to in the final section of this article. ...
Article
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Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) are a statutory review process to better understand domestic homicide in England and Wales. As a policy intervention, DHRs are intended to build a picture of the circumstances before such deaths and identify gaps in practice, policy and system response. The rationale is that this learning can improve response to domestic violence and abuse and reduce the likelihood of future homicides. However, little is known about how the DHR process operates, including how knowledge is produced or its subsequent use, including any outcomes. In effect, for the most part, DHRs are a ‘black box’. Yet, researchers are increasingly using DHR reports as a source of data. By locating ourselves within these processes, this article explores the implications of limited engagement with DHRs as a process of knowledge generation to date. It focuses on the implications for researchers, in particular the epistemological and methodological issues that arise, before considering what this might mean for policy and practice. It identifies recommendations to address key gaps in the understanding and use of DHRs for research purposes. Key messages Recognise the potential and challenges of using DHR reports as data. Consider the everyday work processes associated with the production of DHR reports. Concepts in DHRs must be clearly defined to enable robust data collection. Develop a feedback loop between research and practice so each can benefit from and inform the other.
... Access is also an issue in fatality review, although as a state mandated process, these tend to have formal reporting mechanisms, and can be analysed as a data source. Yet, James notes that in the UK, where DHRs should usually be published, there are often significant delays in doing so and some are not published at all (Benbow et al. 2018;Stanley et al. 2019). The lack of a national repository means the capacity to routinely produce aggregate data and learning is limited (Sharp-Jeffs and Kelly 2016). ...
... However, there can be limitations. For example, there is considerable variation in both the style and quality of DHRs (Dawson 2017;Stanley et al. 2019), and some voices in reviews may be favoured over others (Robinson et al. 2018). Consequently, such reviews have been described as a 'partial account' of a homicide (Stanley et al. 2019). ...
... For example, there is considerable variation in both the style and quality of DHRs (Dawson 2017;Stanley et al. 2019), and some voices in reviews may be favoured over others (Robinson et al. 2018). Consequently, such reviews have been described as a 'partial account' of a homicide (Stanley et al. 2019). Furthermore, as documents, they are not necessarily produced with research in mind, making data extraction difficult, particularly when attempting to understand the context of a homicide and relationship dynamics (Chantler et al. 2020). ...
Article
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Rigorous, comprehensive and timely research are the cornerstone of social and transformative change. For researchers responding to femicide, family and intimate partner homicide, there are substantial challenges around accessing robust data that is complete and fully representative of the experiences and social identities of those affected. This raises questions of how certain social identities are privileged and how the lens of intersectionality may be constrained or enabled through research. Further, there is limited insight into the emotional labour and safety for researchers, and how they experience and mitigate vicarious trauma. We examine these issues through a shared critical reflection and conclude with key recommendations to address the challenges and issues identified. Four researchers examining and responding to femicide, family and intimate partner homicide in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom shared and evaluated their critical reflection. We drew on our experiences and offer insights into processes, impacts and unintended consequences of fatality reviews and research initiatives. There are substantial limitations in accessibility and completeness of data, which has unintended consequences for the construction of social identities of those affected, including how multiple forms of exclusion and structural oppression are represented. Our experiences as researchers are complex and have driven us to implement strategies to mitigate vicarious trauma. We assert that these issues can be addressed by reconceptualizing the goals of data collection and fostering collaborative discussions among those involved in data collection and violence prevention to strengthen research, prevention efforts and safety for all involved.
... To date, the literature has primarily considered DHR case profiles, notably case circumstances, as well as the learning and recommendations produced (Chantler et al., 2020;Home Office, 2016a;Sharp-Jeffs & Kelly, 2016). DHR data have also been used to explore the experience of specific cohorts, including the experience of children (Stanley et al., 2019) and older people (Benbow et al., 2019). ...
... The weakness of the UK Government's collation of findings, and the lack of a national repository, have been noted (Neville & Sanders-McDonagh, 2014;Rowlands, 2020a;Sharp-Jeffs & Kelly, 2016). There are also concerns about access to, and the quality of, DHRs (Bridger et al., 2017;Stanley et al., 2019). Finally, despite evidence of practice and policy change, the impact of DHRs remains unclear (Payton et al., 2017). ...
Article
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In England and Wales, Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) examine domestic abuse-related deaths to identify lessons to be learned. However, their emergence as a policy initiative has been little considered. To address this gap, a thematic discourse analysis of policy documents to 2011 was undertaken, examining the justification for, and conceptualization of, DHRs before their implementation. It is argued that DHRs were constructed as a taken-for-granted good, through which multi-agency partners would generate learning while the (gendered) subject was silenced. Attending to aspirations, contradictions, and tensions in the emergence of DHRs has implications for their understanding and operationalization in the present.
... Current policies in Britain for example (Home Office, 2016) recommend that a child's gender should not be identified. This is in part an attempt to anonymize survivors and protect them from stigma or intrusive media coverage, but it may also reflect a lack of attention to children in these families (Stanley et al., 2019). ...
... For this purpose, the maximum variation (heterogeneity) sampling strategy (Patton, 2014) was used. Literature reports indicate on difficulties in recruiting this population (e.g., Stanley et al., 2019). Nevertheless, attempts were made to include a sample as diverse as possible, ranging in age, familial status (including number of children), socioeconomic status, area of living, level of religiosity, academic background and profession, years since loss, memories of and exposure to the actual event of the murder, as well as in their ethnicity (They were all Jewish of various descents: either Ashkenazi [European], Mizrachi [Middle Eastern], or Ethiopian). ...
Article
Intimate partner homicide is a major public health concern around the world and the most lethal outcome of domestic violence. Its impact on the surviving bereaved offspring is immense, yet there is a significant gap in the literature regarding the long-term effects of this type of loss. The current qualitative study is aimed at filling this gap. The study used the constructivist paradigm of bereavement as a theoretical background to reveal the meanings constructed by bereaved Israeli daughters whose biological mothers were killed in acts of intimate partner homicide by their biological fathers. Three main themes of meaning emerged from 12 in-depth semi-structured interviews: “destruction of one’s home”; “blast injury”; and “in doubt”. An examination of the three themes in the current study reveals a deep shatter in participants’ world of meaning to its very basic foundations. In light of intense psychological and social forces, the participants constructed and reconstructed such narratives of meaning in a continuous process of meaning making throughout their lives, years, and decades post loss. Derived from the findings are implications for practice. Mental healthcare professionals must attend to this basic shatter with an extreme level of caution, as they help homicide survivors reconstruct a world of meaning shattered by loss. Moreover, the long-lasting effects emphasize an appropriate legal and political involvement; specifically, policy regulations and rights should provide psychosocial care programs that are suited to the needs of offspring co-victims of intimate partner homicide in particular. In light of the strong social influence on participants’ loss experience, further efforts are required to raise social awareness about this burning social concern and to fight the stigmatization of co-victims of homicide in general and co-victims of intimate partner homicide in particular.
... In contrast, for noncohabitating women, the lockdown and the forced distancing from a violent man meant a welcome respite to the continued abuse because it was almost impossible for him to put into practice physical and sexual violence and stalking. It is also likely that, in the case of minor children, the visits with the father were suspended, thus suppressing another occasion for encounter and violence against the woman (Elizabeth, 2017;Radford et al., 1997;Stanley et al., 2019). Apparently, not having direct access to the women led to a decline also in other forms of violence, such as phone/web harassment and economic violence, which can be done from a distance. ...
Article
This study explores intimate partner violence (IPV) evolution during the lockdown with a sample of 238 women (44% cohabitating and 56% not cohabitating with the perpetrator), attending five antiviolence centers in Italy (June-September 2020). Questions included 12 items on IPV and, for each item, a question about whether violence increased/stayed the same/decreased during lockdown; an indicator of IPV modifications was constructed. Two distinct patterns, confirmed after adjustment for socio-demographic factors, emerged: IPV increased for 28% of cohabitating and decreased for 56% of non-cohabitating women. Such results suggest the efficacy of physical distancing-strictly controlled by the State-in the prevention of IPV.
... This reflects the absence of provision aimed at informal supporters more generally (Gregory et al., 2016). Stanley et al. (2018) also found that children are rarely invited to contribute to the DHR process, despite an emphasis on the importance of hearing children's voices within the guidance. ...
Article
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Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) are a statutory requirement in England and Wales, conducted when somebody aged 16 and over dies from violence, abuse or neglect by a relative, intimate partner or member of the same household. While key aims of DHRs are to identify recommendations and lessons learned to eventually prevent further domestic homicides, there is limited evidence globally regarding the extent to which these are followed up or make a difference. This paper explores the barriers and facilitators to the conduct and impact of DHRs to enhance their learning potential. It is based on nineteen qualitative interviews with professionals involved in the DHR process across five Safeguarding Boards in Wales and fourteen Community Safety Partnerships in the North-West of England, UK. Findings are presented thematically under four section headings: upskilling and democratising the review process; family and friends' involvement; negotiating organisational blame to foster learning; and actioning and auditing recommendations. It is suggested that organisational learning cannot be achieved without accepting organisational responsibility, which could be interpreted as blame. The role and skills of the Chair are perceived as key to ensure a safe, evidence-based, transparent and learning-focused DHR process. Developing and actioning recommendations may challenge longstanding prejudices. Promoting the role of families/survivor networks and professionals on an equal footing would support a more democratic process. Learning could be enhanced by thematising recommendations and proactively using lessons from one area to inform another. Participants called for appropriate central regulation and accountability to support the action of recommendations.
... Research indicates that for some children this has long-term consequences and impacts on their later mental or physical health (Alisic, 2017;Dye, 2018). There is therefore an identified need for therapeutic work with children exposed to trauma (Alisic et al, 2017;Stanley et al, 2019). DVA was frequently found across the sample where childhood experiences were disclosed and yet specialist services working with children experiencing DVA remain overstretched, underfunded and unsustainable (Reif et al, 2020). ...
Article
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Increasing evidence documents domestic violence and abuse (DVA) and domestic homicide of adults killed by a relative in non-intimate partner relationships. Most literature focuses on intimate partner violence and homicide, yet non-intimate partner homicides form a substantial but neglected minority of domestic homicides. This article addresses this gap by presenting an analysis from 66 domestic homicide reviews (DHRs) in England and Wales where the victim and perpetrator were related, such as parent and adult child. Intimate partner homicides are excluded. These 66 DHRs were a sub-sample drawn from a larger study examining 317 DHRs in England and Wales.The article contributes towards greater understanding of the prevalence, context and characteristics of adult family homicide (AFH). Analysis revealed five interlinked precursors to AFH: mental health and substance/alcohol misuse, criminal history, childhood trauma, economic factors and care dynamics. Findings indicate that, given their contact with both victims and perpetrators, criminal justice agencies, adult social care and health agencies, particularly mental health services, are ideally placed to identify important risk and contextual factors. Understanding of DVA needs to extend to include adult family violence. Risk assessments need to be cognisant of the complex dynamics of AFH and must consider social-structural and relational-contextual factors. Key messages Understanding of domestic violence and abuse needs to include adult family violence. Risks and dynamics of adult family homicide are complex and must consider social-structural and relational-contextual factors. Criminal justice agencies, social care, substance misuse and mental health services provide opportunities for prevention. </ol
... This study selected 140 cases reviewed by the DVDRC and divided these cases into two separate groups: (a) No Children (cases where no biological or step children exist within the family system) and (b) Children (cases where there is a child who exists within the family system, irrespective of whether a direct or indirect attempt was made on their life). This study operated with the awareness that children are at risk by living in proximity to domestic violence regardless of whether they were directly harmed, and that children are at risk for negative outcomes irrespective of their degree of exposure, such as physical injury, long-term mental health, behavioural, academic problems, as well as the difficulties associated with the loss or one or both caregivers (Stanley et al. 2018). Moreover, surviving children may have been spared from the homicide simply due to being physically absent from the homicide scene. ...
Article
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Children exposed to domestic violence may be at risk of homicide. Through an analysis of 140 domestic homicide cases in Ontario, Canada, this study sought to identify unique factors that heighten the risk for children in these circumstances. Two groups of domestic homicide cases were compared: cases with no children (No Children, n = 39) and cases where children were part of the family system (Children, n = 101). Further comparison was made of cases in which children were killed (n = 20) to cases in which children were present but not killed (n = 81). Overall, there were few unique differences between the groups and most of the significant findings were based on expected demographic characteristics related to having children in the family. Other significant results included a higher percentage of reports made to legal counsel/services within child-specific cases and a higher percentage of reports made to family members in cases where children were not killed. These results indicate that children who lose parents to domestic homicide share similar high-risk circumstances as children who have been killed in this context. Practical implications of the study’s findings are discussed.
... It comes from two Home Office reports, of which only one is particularly robust (Home Office 2013b; Home Office 2016); a report commissioned by a non-governmental organisation (Sharp-Jeffs and Kelly 2016); and some regional learning summaries (Warren 2016;Harris 2017; Social Care Institute for Excellence 2020). This is increasingly being supplemented by academic research (Neville and Sanders-McDonagh 2014;Benbow et al. 2018;Chantler et al. 2019;Stanley et al. 2019). ...
Technical Report
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James Rowlands, a researcher and domestic violence worker from Brighton, travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA to study ways of improving responses to domestic homicide. He will use his findings to inform how these deaths are reviewed in the UK.
... • To investigate the characteristics of victims and perpetrators of domestic homicides • To analyse the relationship characteristics of victims and perpetrators • To investigate whether informal support and/or formal agencies knew of domestic violence and abuse prior to the homicide • To identify contextual elements of domestic homicide A separate paper has been published with findings relating to families with children under 18 so these will not be discussed in detail here (Stanley, Chantler, & Robbins, 2019). What is known about this topic • Domestic homicide is highly gendered -the vast majority of victims are women and the vast majority of perpetrators are men. ...
Article
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This paper aims to contribute to the prevention of future domestic homicide by analysing 141 domestic homicide reviews (DHRs) in England and Wales. All publicly available DHRs (n = 141) were retrieved from Community Safety Partnership websites in England and Wales in June 2016. Utilising a mixed methods approach, we designed templates to extract quantitative and qualitative data from DHRs. Descriptive statistics were generated by SPSS. 54 DHRs were analysed qualitatively, using N‐Vivo for data management. The findings revealed that perpetrators were aged: 16–82 years; with a mean average age of 41 years. Victims’ ages ranged from 17 to 91 years old; with a mean average age: 45 years. Perpetrators’ mental health was mentioned in 65% of DHRs; 49% of perpetrators had a mental health diagnosis. Healthcare services, in particular, mental health services, were most likely to be involved with perpetrators. ‘Movement’ was identified as a key contextual feature of the 54 DHRs analysed qualitatively and this was found to interact with risk assessment, language barriers and housing problems. In conclusion, domestic violence and abuse risk assessments need to be informed by the knowledge that domestic abuse occurs across the age span. Mental health settings offer an opportunity for intervention to prevent domestic homicide. Domestic Homicide Reviews can provide valuable material for training practitioners.
Article
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Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) are publicly available and provide an anonymised account of intimate partner or family homicides in England and Wales, largely by describing the circumstances before a victim's death. They aim to reduce the likelihood of future homicides by identifying, learning and using this to improve prevention and intervention strategies. Epistemologically, DHRs are infused with ethical tensions. In practice, while statutory guidance sets out how to undertake DHRs, there is no shared ethical code of conduct to assist practitioners in conceptualising or navigating ethical debates and dilemmas. Researchers face similar challenges. As published documents, DHRs are open access and have largely been analysed in aggregate as secondary data. However, their accessibility has led to a lack of critical attention to matters of consent, anonymity or privacy or the discursive practices in their production. To date then, ethical issues have been little considered in DHRs. Utilising a researcher and practitioner perspective, this paper considers ethical issues, in particular those that concern victim subjectivity. This can be described in DHRs as 'victim voice' and is often taken for granted. Conceptual and practical implications are discussed, including considerations for both practitioners and researchers that might more fully foreground victim voice.
Article
The murder of a child’s mother in the context of domestic violence is a traumatic experience which results in multiple stresses affecting the child’s emotional, behavioural and educational functioning. In effect, children lose both parents – their mother as victim and their father in jail or also dead from a murder-suicide – as well as their home, neighbourhood and school as they are relocated, either with extended family members or placed into foster care. In addition, extended family members must cope with their own grief and anger as they attempt to parent these troubled children. Evidence from the papers reviewed indicate that there are no guidelines for determining who is best placed for caring for the children and for providing the safety and stability necessary for recovery, nor for ensuring the provision of therapeutic support for child survivors and their families. There is also evidence to indicate that, left untreated, effects can become long-lasting and carry on into adulthood. Policy implications are considered with a focus on multi-agency family-centred advocacy approaches.
Chapter
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Discussion of co-located work as a response to the challenges of domestic violence work in children's services
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Background In the context of violence against women, intimate partner homicide increasingly receives research and policy attention. Although the impact of losing a parent due to intimate partner homicide is intuitively obvious, little is known about the children involved. We aimed to identify all children bereaved by parental intimate partner homicide in the Netherlands in the period 2003–2012, describe their demographics and family circumstances, and assess their exposure to prior violence at home and to the homicide itself. Methods and findings We cross-examined 8 national data sources and extracted data about children’s demographics and circumstances prior to, and during the homicide. Our primary outcomes were prior violence at home (child maltreatment, neglect or domestic violence) and homicide witness status (ranging from being at a different location altogether to being present at the scene). During the decade under study, 256 children lost a biological parent due to 137 cases of intimate partner homicide. On average, the children were 7.4 years old at the time of the homicide (51.1% were boys; 95% CI 47.3–54.7) and most lost their mother (87.1%; full population data). Immigrant children were overrepresented (59.4%; 95% CI 52.8–66.0). Of the children for whom information about previous violence at home was gathered, 67.7% (95% CI 59.7–73.7) were certainly exposed and 16.7% (95% CI 11.3–22.2) probably. Of the children who had certainly been exposed, 43.1% (95% CI 41.1–60.9) had not received social services or mental health care. The majority of the children (58.7%; 95% CI 52.1–65.3) were present at the location of the homicide when the killing took place, with varying levels of exposure. Homicide weapons mostly involved cutting weapons and firearms, leading to graphic crime scenes. Conclusions Care providers need capacity not only to help children cope with the sudden loss of a parent but also with unaddressed histories of domestic violence and exposure to graphic homicide scenes, in a culture-sensitive way. Future directions include longitudinal monitoring of children’s mental health outcomes and replication in other countries.
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Research Question What pathways to more accurate prediction of intimate partner homicide (IPH) can be found by reviewing two years of official Domestic Homicide Reviews in England and Wales? Data This study conducted a detailed review of investigative source material, police database information and the official independent author reviews of the 188 cases of intimate partner homicide recorded in England and Wales between April 2011 and March 2013. Methods Descriptive analytical techniques were used to explore the prevalence of various characteristics of victims, offenders and relationships in these cases, with special attention given to offender suicide ideation as a precursor to the crimes. Findings Offenders in these cases were 86% male, with high rates of both chronic substance abuse (61%) and prior reported offending (50%) against their homicide victim. The most disproportionately prevalent characteristic appears to be that 40% of the male offenders were known by someone, but often not to police, as suffering suicidal ideation, self-harm or attempted suicides. The prevalence of that marker, while not measureable in the general population, is over four times higher than the pre-offence police indications of suicidal tendencies across 80 domestic homicides in Leicestershire (Button et al., 2017). Conclusions It is plausible that many more intimate partner homicides might be accurately predicted, and perhaps prevented, with more public investment in obtaining data on suicidal indicators and more proactive treatment of domestic abuse offenders known to suffer suicidal tendencies.
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We describe the development of an evidence-based training intervention on domestic violence and child safeguarding for general practice teams. We aimed – in the context of a pilot study – to improve knowledge, skills, attitudes and self-efficacy of general practice clinicians caring for families affected by domestic violence. Our evidence sources included: a systematic review of training interventions aiming to improve professional responses to children affected by domestic violence; content mapping of relevant current training in England; qualitative assessment of general practice professionals' responses to domestic violence in families; and a two-stage consensus process with a multi-professional stakeholder group. Data were collected between January and December 2013. This paper reports key research findings and their implications for practice and policy; describes how the research findings informed the training development and outlines the principal features of the training intervention. We found lack of cohesion and co-ordination in the approach to domestic violence and child safeguarding. General practice clinicians have insufficient understanding of multi-agency work, a limited competence in gauging thresholds for child protection referral to children's services and little understanding of outcomes for children. While prioritising children's safety, they are more inclined to engage directly with abusive parents than with affected children. Our research reveals uncertainty and confusion surrounding the recording of domestic violence cases in families' medical records. These findings informed the design of the RESPONDS training, which was developed in 2014 to encourage general practice clinicians to overcome barriers and engage more extensively with adults experiencing abuse, as well as responding directly to the needs of children. We conclude that general practice clinicians need more support in managing the complexity of this area of practice. We need to integrate and further evaluate responses to the needs of children exposed to domestic violence into general practice-based domestic violence training.
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When one parent kills the other, children are confronted with multiple losses, involving their attachment figures and their direct living environment. In these complex situations, potentially drastic decisions are made, for example, regarding new living arrangements and contact with the perpetrating parent. We aimed to synthesize the empirical literature on children’s mental health and well-being after parental intimate partner homicide. A systematic search identified 17 relevant peer-reviewed articles (13 independent samples). We recorded the theoretical background, methodology, and sample characteristics of the studies, and extracted all child outcomes as well as potential risk and protective factors. Children’s outcomes varied widely and included psychological, social, physical, and academic consequences (e.g., post-traumatic stress, attachment difficulties, weight and appetite changes, and drops in school grades). Potential risk and protective factors for children’s outcomes included 10 categories of pre-, peri-, and post-homicide characteristics such as cultural background of the family, whether the child witnessed the homicide, and the level of conflict between the families of the victim and the perpetrator. We integrated the findings into a conceptual model of risk factors to direct clinical reflection and further research.
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My review made recommendations that will, together, help to create a work environment that will better support professionals in giving children and young people the help they need. This report considers how well implementation of these recommendations has progressed in the year since the review’s publication, and how the child protection landscape as a whole is changing. The overall conclusion of this report is that progress is moving in the right direction but that it needs to move faster. There are promising signs that some reforms are encouraging new ways of thinking and working and so improving services for children. There are, however, a number of reforms that still require implementation; as this happens over the next 12 months, the pace of change should be hastened further. One fundamental change that is needed is for all to have realistic expectations of how well professionals can protect children and young people. The work involves uncertainty: we cannot know for sure what is going on in the privacy of family life, nor can we predict with certainty what will happen. Too often, expectations have become unrealistic, demanding that professionals ‘ensure’ children’s safety, strengthening a belief that if something bad happens ‘some professional must be to blame’. This has contributed to the development of a defensive culture that focuses on compliance with targets and rules instead of whether services are providing effective help. Having realistic expectations of professionals will make it easier for them to have the confidence to use judgment instead of applying rules that do not match a specific child’s needs, and the humility to reflect on weaknesses in their practice so that they can learn.
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Domestic/Family Violence Death Reviews (D/FVDRs) have been established in a number of high-income countries since 1990 as a mechanism to inform prevention-focused interventions to reduce domestic/family violence. D/FVDRs differ in their structure, governance, case identification processes and inclusion criteria, review measures, and outputs. Outside of the United States, the extent of heterogeneity across and within countries has not been explored. This study comprised an international comparison of D/FVDRs and their core elements to inform the establishment of D/FVDRs in other developed countries, and potentially low- and middle-income countries where violence is a leading cause of death. Such a review is also a necessary foundation for any future evaluation D/FVDRs. The review identified 71 jurisdictions where a D/FVDRs had been established in the past two decades, 25 of which met the inclusion criteria. All D/FVDRs examined stated a reduction in deaths as a goal of the review process; however, none reported an actual reduction. The focus of the D/FVDRs examined was on intimate partner homicides; however, more recently established D/FVDRs include other familial relationships. Almost one third of the D/FVDRs examined reported changes to the domestic/family system that occurred as a result of recommendations made from the review process. While similar in many ways, D/FVDRs differ along a number of important dimensions that make it difficult to identify best practices for jurisdictions considering the establishment of such an initiative. To share knowledge, existing networks should be expanded nationally and internationally to include jurisdictions that may be considering this initiative.
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The article discusses findings from first study in Europe to track domestic violence cases over six years through the criminal justice system and compare cases involving male and female perpetrators. Ninety-six cases involving men and women recorded by the police in England as intimate domestic violence perpetrators were tracked to provide detailed narratives and progression of cases, establishing samples with a single male or female perpetrator or where both partners were recorded as perpetrators. Domestic violence involves a pattern of abusive behaviour over time and the in-depth longitudinal approach allowed similarities and differences in violent and abusive behaviours used by men and women, as recorded by the police, to be explored. Gender differences were found relating to the nature of cases, forms of violence recorded, frequency of incidents and levels of arrest.
Article
Domestic/Family Violence Death Reviews (D/FVDRs) have been established in a number of high-income countries since 1990 as a mechanism to inform prevention-focused interventions to reduce domestic/family violence. D/FVDRs differ in their structure, governance, case identification processes and inclusion criteria, review measures, and outputs. Outside of the United States, the extent of heterogeneity across and within countries has not been explored. This study comprised an international comparison of D/FVDRs and their core elements to inform the establishment of D/FVDRs in other developed countries, and potentially low- and middle-income countries where violence is a leading cause of death. Such a review is also a necessary foundation for any future evaluation D/FVDRs. The review identified 71 jurisdictions where a D/FVDRs had been established in the past two decades, 25 of which met the inclusion criteria. All D/FVDRs examined stated a reduction in deaths as a goal of the review process; however, none reported an actual reduction. The focus of the D/FVDRs examined was on intimate partner homicides; however, more recently established D/FVDRs include other familial relationships. Almost one third of the D/FVDRs examined reported changes to the domestic/family system that occurred as a result of recommendations made from the review process. While similar in many ways, D/FVDRs differ along a number of important dimensions that make it difficult to identify best practices for jurisdictions considering the establishment of such an initiative. To share knowledge, existing networks should be expanded nationally and internationally to include jurisdictions that may be considering this initiative.
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The importance of establishing effective inter-agency working between adult mental health services and child care services in order to safeguard children has been repeatedly identified by research, policy, inquiries and inspection reports. This article reports on the evaluation of an initiative in one health and social care trust in Northern Ireland that aimed to facilitate joint working and so improve service provision and protection for children and families. The Champions Initiative involved identifying a Champion in each multidisciplinary community mental health team and in each family and child care team that would have responsibility for providing information, promoting joint working and identifying any obstacles to better cooperation. The evaluation of this Initiative assessed levels of experience, training, confidence, understanding and awareness in the Champions and their team members at baseline. The Champions and their Team Leaders were then followed up after six months to obtain their qualitative views of the impact of the initiative. The results include comparisons between mental health and child care staff, and crucially, views about whether the initiative has had any impact on working together. This study also generated recommendations for further service development in this complex and important area of practice. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ‘Identifying a Champion in each multidisciplinary community mental health team and in each family and child care team’
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This paper explores the experience of post-separation fathering, in the context of a prior history of domestic abuse from the perspectives of mothers, fathers, children and professionals participating in a three-year doctoral research project. A mixed methodological research design conducted over two phases involved both the completion of survey questionnaires by 219 mothers and the participation in focus groups and individual interviews by children and young people, mothers, fathers and professionals. The findings highlight clear evidence of post-separation contact facilitating the continued abuse of women and children. The findings also highlight a lack of attention to the parenting of abusive men who were identified as struggling to realise their fathering aspirations and take responsibility for the impact of their abusive behaviour on their children and ex-partners. Particular constructions of family life are found to sustain the often unmonitored presence of abusive men in post-separation family life. This paper concludes by asserting the need to prioritise the construction of fathers as 'risk' in the context of post-separation father-child contact. Doing so does not mean excluding fathers from children's lives; rather, what is critical is to find ways to ensure that abusive men can be 'good enough' fathers.
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This paper reports on a study of 40 child protection case files that were open in an English local authority in 2007. The study aimed to explore continuities and change in the engagement of men in the child protection system in England. The files recorded that 63 men were involved in the lives of the 71 children who were the focus of the child protection concerns. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from the minutes of the initial child protection meeting, strategy meetings, professional reports and the first review meeting. The study found high levels of violence in the cases and domestic violence was the most common reason for convening an initial child protection meeting. In common with earlier studies, men were found to be much less engaged in the child protection process than women, domestic violence was underplayed and little attention was paid to men's practical caring skills. Possibly as a result of changes to definitions of child abuse in recent years, this study also found that domestic violence may be used as a lever to initiate child protection processes where there are other concerns and that much more attention was paid to the likely emotional and physical impact of violence on children than on women. It was also found that violent men in this small sample were more likely to be engaged by professionals than men about whom there was no record of violence. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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It is widely recognised that, in a child protection context, practitioners tend to focus on working with mothers more than fathers. This may undermine risk management and limit the resources available for the care of children. This paper discusses the process of developing and running a training intervention for child protection social workers, designed to improve father engagement (with ‘fathers’ defined inclusively). A short course was provided, consisting of one day of awareness-raising about the importance of work with fathers and one day of motivational interviewing skills training. The emphasis in the paper is on insights from the qualitative elements of the mixed-method process evaluation, namely, observation and pre- and post-course interviews. In particular, there is discussion of the potential benefits and challenges of this kind of training, with consideration given to the general issue of father engagement and more specifically the potential for using motivational interviewing in child protection practice. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ‘The process of developing and running a training intervention for child protection social workers’
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This article considers the experiences of families and professionals in case reviews where a child has died/suffered serious injury as a result or abuse or neglect. There is an expectation in the four UK nations that families will be included in such case reviews. The article draws on a study of policies and practices, and family accounts of involvement. An overview of UK policies and practices is described, and the broader questions that emerge for participatory practices identified. Family experiences in this complex area of practice are considered, and recommendations made for practice. The uneven picture of family involvement is argued to reflect uncertainty about the purpose, value and role of family involvement. Concerns are raised about the unresolved dilemmas arising from family involvement and the potential for practice to be unhelpful if not carefully examined. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.‘An overview of UK policies and practices is described, and the broader questions that emerge for participatory practices identified’Key Practitioner Messages:Family involvement in reviews is an expectation across the UK nations, but with limited practice guidance.Family perspectives add invaluable insights and support learning for future protective services.Professionals have common drivers for family involvement in reviews, but few policies articulate the purpose of participation.Family involvement raises difficult questions for participatory practices.Without further clarity and adoption of principles for practice, dilemmas will remain whatever review models are adopted.
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Approximately 3,300 children are affected by intimate partner femicide each year. Despite the multitude of stressors and the potential for negative outcomes, little is known about these children or their caregivers. This in-depth interview study used family stress theory to explore caregivers' and children's adjustment after intimate partner femicide in 10 families. Data were analyzed qualitatively using framework analysis. Results suggest that children and their caregivers manage numerous health and adjustment challenges in the context of ongoing hardships, resource-poor environments, and continued efforts to come to terms with the loss of their loved one and its effects on their family. Future directions are provided, with a specific focus on family-centered, strengths-based, and advocacy approaches.
A group of children (N= 95) seen by our team at least one year previously for assessment after one parent had killed the other, was followed up by a postal questionnaire to the original referrer. Through this we examined a number of outcome variables including placement effects, the frequency of their contact with the surviving parent, the referrer’s view of the difference our intervention had made and their view on the child’s adjustment over time. We analysed the data to determine any associations between these factors to help us understand the difficulties these children face and to aid clinical decisions.
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The harm consequent on children's exposure to domestic violence is recognised in legislation in England and Wales. This paper reports on a study of the social work response to 184 families notified by the police to children's services in two English authorities. Families were tracked through case records over 21 months subsequent to the notification. The perspectives of social services' practitioners and managers were also captured through interviews. Only a small proportion of families received a service in the form of an initial assessment or further intervention; the notification triggered a service for just five per cent of families. Families who received a warning letter only were just as likely to be re-referred as those who met with no response. Those families receiving a service were likely to experience repeated notifications and assessments. The limited time period for completing assessments contributed to initial assessment workers' lack of engagement with perpetrators of domestic violence. Current structures for assessment and intervention contribute to a stop-start pattern of social work that seems ill-suited to building the trust and engagement needed to challenge the complex and enduring experience of domestic violence.
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This article explores what notions of the child, victim, girlhood and boyhood may mean for social workers' approaches to children ‘witnessing’ or being exposed to violence. The discussion draws on qualitative interviews with children who have participated in social services' investigations regulated by Swedish family law. The analytical framework combines a care perspective focused on the vulnerable position of children exposed to violence, and a rights/participation perspective focusing on children's agency and rights to participation. Drawing on children's narratives, it is shown how social workers create at least four different victim positions for children in the investigation process: protected victim, invisible victim, unprotected victim and victim with participation. Thereafter, it is discussed how child positions and social work approaches may be linked to a wider cultural context, in particular notions of ‘ideal’ victims, age and gender. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Domestic Violence Death Review Committees (DVDRCs) are interdisciplinary teams dedicated to examining domestic homicide and recommending how to prevent future tragedies by comprehensively examining individual cases. This article summarizes the findings of 15 DVDRCs concerning children as victims and witnesses. The findings reflect that an alarming number of children are victimized by domestic violence. Themes in the recommendations are grouped in relationship to: (1) training and policy development; (2) resource development; (3) coordination of services; (4) legislative reform; and (5) prevention programs. The recommendations are critical for criminal and civil courts as well as enhancing collaboration between the justice system and community partners in preventing domestic homicide.
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There has been an ongoing debate about the extent and nature of gender differences in the experience of intimate partner violence (IPV). Disagreement about the appropriate definition of IPV is central to this debate. This study used latent class analysis (LCA) to map the patterns of physical violence, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviour, and examined whether LCA can better illuminate the gendered nature of this experience than conventional measures of IPV. Data from the 2004 Canadian General Social Survey were analysed, which included 8360 women and 7056 men 15 years of age and over who reported a current or ex-spouse or common-law partner. Results revealed more variation in the patterns of IPV for women than for men. Six classes were found for women, whereas four classes were found for men. Women and men were equally likely to experience less severe acts of physical aggression that were not embedded in a pattern of control. However, only women experienced a severe and chronic pattern of violence and control involving high levels of fear and injury. For women and men, intermediate patterns of violence and control, and patterns describing exclusively non-physical acts of abuse were also found. The results also revealed substantial differences in the IPV subtypes for those reporting about a current versus an ex-partner. These results support the use of LCA in identifying meaningful patterns of IPV and provide a more nuanced understanding of the role of gender than conventional measures. Implications for sampling within IPV research are discussed.
Article
Objective: Repeated public inquiries into child abuse tragedies in Britain demonstrate the level of public concern about the services designed to protect children. These inquiries identify faults in professionals' practice but the similarities in their findings indicate that they are having insufficient impact on improving practice. This study is based on the hypothesis that the recurrent errors may be explicable as examples of the typical errors of human reasoning identified by psychological research. Methods: The sample comprised all child abuse inquiry reports published in Britain between 1973 and 1994 (45 in total). Using a content analysis and a framework derived from psychological research on reasoning, a study was made of the reasoning of the professionals involved and the findings of the inquiries. Results: It was found that professionals based assessments of risk on a narrow range of evidence. It was biased towards the information readily available to them, overlooking significant data known to other professionals. The range was also biased towards the more memorable data, that is, towards evidence that was vivid, concrete, arousing emotion and either the first or last information received. The evidence was also often faulty, due, in the main, to biased or dishonest reporting or errors in communication. A critical attitude to evidence was found to correlate with whether or not the new information supported the existing view of the family. A major problem was that professionals were slow to revise their judgements despite a mounting body of evidence against them. Conclusions: Errors in professional reasoning in child protection work are not random but predictable on the basis of research on how people intuitively simplify reasoning processes in making complex judgements. These errors can be reduced if people are aware of them and strive consciously to avoid them. Aids to reasoning need to be developed that recognize the central role of intuitive reasoning but offer methods for checking intuitive judgements more rigorously and systematically.
SCIE Report 19: Learning Together to Safeguard Children: Developing a Multi-Agency Systems Approach for Case Reviews
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Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse: Government Consultation
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Promoting Recovery in Mental Health: Final Evaluation Report
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More than a mirage? Safe contact for children and young people who have been exposed to domestic violence
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Think Child, Think Parent, Think Family: Final Evaluation Report
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Children's Social Care Innovation Programme Final Evaluation Report, London, Department for Education
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Sebba, J., Luke, N., McNeish, D. and Rees, A. (2017) Children's Social Care Innovation Programme Final Evaluation Report, London, Department for Education, available online at: www.gov.uk/government/publications (accessed on 21 March 2018).
Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) Case Analysis: Report for Standing Together
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Sharps-Jeffs, N. and Kelly, L. (2016) Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) Case Analysis: Report for Standing Together, London, Standing Together and London Metropolitan University.
Pathways to Harm, Pathways to Protection: A Triennial Analysis of Serious Case Reviews
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Sidebotham, P., Brandon, M., Bailey, S., Belderson, P., Dodsworth, J., Garstang, J., Harrison, E., Retzer, A. and Sorensen, P. (2016) Pathways to Harm, Pathways to Protection: A Triennial Analysis of Serious Case Reviews 2011 to 2014: Final Report, London, Department for Education.
The Age of the Inquiry: Learning and Blaming in Health and Social Care
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