Domestic abuse and violence occurs throughout all communities and cultures and impacts upon the health, wellbeing of both adults and children. The effects of domestic abuse can penetrate through every aspect of daily life, leaving families in fear and confusion. Domestic abuse has long lasting impact upon individuals and families, including risk of serious injury or even death, through homicide or suicide.

Evidence gathered by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), formally the British Crime Survey (BCS), shows domestic abuse is chronically under reported. Additionally, it may be difficult to identify 'discreet' incidents as many victims live with this continuing abuse, in fear of threats and violence.

Specialist domestic abuse services exist to help support those in need by improving safety and providing emotional and practical support to help rebuild lives. However, for many victims contact with these services will only come following identification by or a referral from another agency.

Victims may fear the response they will receive if they disclose what is happening to them. They may fear repercussions from the abusers, but they may also fear the response from the services they encounter.

It is essential that all frontline staff have an understanding of domestic abuse, the barriers and challenges faced by victims and how to respond and refer victims to appropriate support.

Therefore, it is intended that this guide will seek to inform professionals and equip them to respond effectively.