Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse typically involves:

  • Controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour
  • Violence
  • Physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse of adults over 16 years old who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members.

It can happen to anyone of any age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality.

Step 1:  Identify
  • Injuries without explanation, concealed or minimised by client
  • A partner who is unwilling to allow a client to be alone with professionals
  • A patient or client who appears passive and dominated by their partner
  • Change in behaviour, for example appearing anxious
Step 2:  Ask

If you have a concern, always try to find out more from the person themselves.  Make sure the person you are concerned about is on their own. If you are talking through an interpreter, make sure they are independent of the family and the community.

Ways to start the conversation:

  • Are you happy?
  • How are things in your relationship?
  • Is anybody hurting you? Don’t refer to ‘partner’ as it could be someone else
  • Are you or your children scared or upset?
Step 3:  Act

If the situation is urgent, visible injury is evident or children are at risk, phone 999 or Somerset County Council’s Children’s Services (0300 123 2224)

Always complete the Domestic Abuse risk assessment (DASH) even if the victim is not in immediate danger to help inform your decision and determine escalation routes.  If the DASH scores 14 points or more this is considered high risk and should be referred for a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC).  If a lower score is reached, professional judgement may be applied by speaking directly to the Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service who will consider the referral.  Discuss with your MARAC representative for more support. Ensure the victim knows about sources of help and support that are available.

Key points to remember
  • Risk Assess: Complete a Domestic Abuse risk assessment (DASH)
  • Think Family – be mindful of any other factors that impact on the individual and/or their families
  • Never advise the person to leave their home or relationship
  • Use your professional judgement – if you sense something is wrong, you should act on it
  • Use everyday language
  • Note what has been said to you, including the time, date and injuries
What is a MARAC?

MARAC is a partnership approach and its core objective is to share information about domestic abuse victims, perpetrators and families. This involves a number of agencies, including Adult Social Care, Children’s Social Care, Police, Housing, Education, specialist domestic abuse services and mental health services.

There are four MARACs in Somerset: Somerset West and Taunton, Sedgemoor (these were previously held as a single meeting, but have now reverted to separate meetings), South Somerset and Mendip.

All referrals should be sent to the Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (contact details below), and not the police as they no longer have the MARAC co-ordination function.  Each agency has a dedicated representative who attends meetings and is responsible for the actions of their agency.

MARACs run alongside other multi-agency assessment processes (such as MASH and Channel) and should link appropriately to avoid duplication.

Somerset Domestic Abuse Support helpline: 0800 69 49 999

Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service:

Email address for general enquiries 

Email address for referrals

How do people get referred into a MARAC?

Cases can be referred from any agency. A person would have to disclose they were a victim of domestic abuse. The perpetrator(s) would never be told of the MARAC process.

Remember that MARAC is designed to only consider victims who are at risk of serious harm being inflicted in the immediate future.

There are two steps to the referral process:

  1. A Domestic Abuse risk assessment (DASH) is completed by the practitioner. Only high risk victims can be referred to MARAC (those who have a DASH score of 14 points or more ). If a lower score is reached, professional judgement may be applied by speaking directly to the Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service.  Your completed DASH Risk Indicator Checklist should help to evidence why you believe that there is an imminent event which is life-threatening, traumatic or life-changing to the victim. This maybe from what the victim has told you or be in your professional opinion.
  2. The referral is then triaged based on MARAC Referral criteria

The victim is assigned a dedicated Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) who will make contact with the victim and represent them at a MARAC.

The the Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service collects referral details and will issue an agenda prior to the meeting. The agenda is researched by all agencies for the meeting.

The MARAC takes place and information is shared. Once the meeting is over, minutes are sent out to all agencies.

Don’t know what something means?  Click below open a list of common terms and definitions:

Common terms and definitions