Responding Principles for All Staff

Responding Principles for All Staff

Empowering victims

Domestic violence is about power and control so one of the most useful roles health staff can play is to return some power and control to the victim. It is important to ensure that she is able to make informed choices by giving her as much information about available options as you are able. Do not judge her for the choices she makes or tell her what to do as this is what her abuser will have done!

Victim centred approach

NHS London operates a victim centred approach to domestic violence and will ensure that those experiencing domestic violence are dealt with sensitively and appropriately. This will mean that the safety of the victim is paramount and they will not be asked for direct evidence of abuse but instead their testament will be believed (unless evidence exists to the contrary). This is because we recognise that while victims often experience physical assaults some experience prolonged periods of emotional abuse and intimidation which is often a lot more difficult to evidence. Additionally, due to the largely private nature of domestic violence and delays in seeking help, even evidence of physical assaults may not exist.

Record keeping

We recognise that it is not unusual for perpetrators of domestic violence to go to great lengths to seek out their victims. Therefore the physical safety of clients can depend on records and notes being kept securely, including information about the survivor's address. Information elicited over the telephone should always be preceded by a written and signed fax. Staff must also be aware that their notes could be used in court or externally as evidence.

Domestic abuse is a crime

The NHS recognises that domestic abuse will often constitute a criminal offence, and where it doesn't, it will normally constitute a civil offence under harassment legislation.

Monitoring

Domestic abuse has been ignored, so it has remained largely hidden. Better information about its existence and extent is required to enable services to be developed for victims and their children facing violence. For this reason, NHS London is committed to developing effective monitoring systems.