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Domestic Abuse

Understanding Domestic Abuse and Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults 


Domestic abuse is a deeply concerning issue that affects individuals and families across diverse communities. It not only impacts the immediate victims but also has profound implications for children and vulnerable adults within these environments. Recognising the intricate link between domestic abuse and safeguarding vulnerable individuals is crucial in ensuring their protection and well-being. 

Domestic Abuse and Its Impact 

Domestic abuse encompasses various forms of coercive behaviours, violence, and control exerted by one person over another in an intimate relationship or within a family context. It can manifest in physical, emotional, sexual, or financial forms, creating a climate of fear and intimidation.

The presence of domestic abuse significantly affects the mental, emotional, and physical health of both direct victims and those exposed to it, particularly children. Witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse can have long-lasting repercussions, leading to trauma, developmental issues, and challenges in forming healthy relationships. Some children may act out the aggression they have witnessed or blame themselves for the abuse. All children living with abuse are under stress. 

Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults 

Safeguarding measures are essential to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm, abuse, or exploitation, including situations arising from domestic abuse. It involves preventing abuse, promoting well-being, and ensuring timely intervention and support when concerns arise. 

For children, safeguarding efforts encompass providing a safe environment, early identification of risks, and offering appropriate support services. Vulnerable adults, including the elderly or those with disabilities, require tailored support and interventions sensitive to their needs and circumstances. 

Recognising Signs and Taking Action 

Understanding the signs of domestic abuse in children and vulnerable adults is fundamental to early intervention. Signs may manifest differently depending on age, personality, and individual circumstances.  Warning signs may include:

  • changes in behaviour or mood
  • withdrawal, anxiety or low self-esteem
  • blaming oneself for the abuse
  • unexplained injuries such as bruising, cuts, or broken bones
  • verbal abuse and humiliation in front of others
  • fear of outside intervention
  • damage to home or property
  • isolation – restricted from seeing friends and family
  • limited access to money

Taking action involves a collective responsibility. Individuals, communities, professionals, and organisations play crucial roles in recognising, reporting, and responding to suspected cases of domestic abuse affecting children or vulnerable adults.


Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from the impacts of domestic abuse demands continuous education, awareness, and collaborative efforts. By recognising the signs, taking proactive measures, and accessing available support services, we can work together to create safer environments and provide essential support for those affected by domestic abuse.


Numerous support organisations, helplines, and community services, such as Berkshire Women's Aid, are dedicated to addressing domestic abuse and safeguarding vulnerable individuals. These resources offer guidance, counselling, shelter, legal assistance, and other forms of support to victims, survivors, and concerned individuals seeking help or information. 

The Bracknell Forest Domestic Abuse Forum seeks to identify and promote good practice aimed at reducing the level of domestic abuse across the borough. Information on the work of the forum and training courses can be found on the Bracknell Forest Council website together with resources for practitioners.

Help for victims of domestic abuse (or those looking for further advice) is on Bracknell Forest Council’s web pages about stopping domestic abuse.

As with all dilemmas in respect of safeguarding children and young people, concerns can never be shared too early and making contact with your line manager/agencies lead officers, or directly with Bracknell Forest Children’s Social Care department will help you establish an appropriate response.

There is a website, run by the Ministry of Defence, for victims of Domestic Abuse in the armed forces and for professionals supporting these victims. 

The NHS website has a range of information for getting help and support for domestic abuse.