Information for professionals - Domestic abuse

Safety Planning

Making a personal safety plan is a way of helping victims of domestic violence and abuse to protect themselves and their children. It helps them to think about how they can increase their safety either within a relationship, or if they decide to leave.

A victim can't stop their partner's violence and abuse - only they can do that. But there are things they can do to increase their own and their children's safety. They're probably already doing some things to protect themselves and their children - for example, there may be a pattern to the violence which may enable them to plan ahead to increase their safety.

Other things to consider include:

  • Planning in advance how they might respond in different situations, including crisis situations
  • Thinking about the different options that may be available to them
  • Keeping with them any important and emergency telephone numbers (for example, local domestic violence services, GP, social worker, children's school, solicitor, etc.)
  • Teaching their children to call 999 in an emergency and what they would need to say (for example, their full name, address and telephone number)
  • Considering if there are neighbours they could trust and where they could go in an emergency? If there is, they could tell them what is going on and ask them to call the police if they hear sound of a violent attack
  • Rehearsing an escape plan, so in an emergency they and their children can get away safely
  • Packing an emergency bag for themselves and their children and handing it somewhere safe (for example, at a neighbour's or a friend's house, but trying to avoid mutual friends or family)
  • Trying to keep a small amount of money on them at all times - including change for the phone and for bus fares
  • Knowing where the nearest phone is, and if they have a mobile phone, trying to keep it with them
  • If they suspect that their partner is about to attack them, trying to go to a lower risk area of the house - for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone. Avoiding the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons and avoiding rooms where they might be trapped, such as the bathroom, or where they might be shut into a cupboard or other small space
  • Being prepared to leave the house in an emergency

Further advice on safety planning can be found in The Survivor's Handbook on the Women's Aid website.

Risk Assessment

When someone is suffering domestic abuse, it's vital to make an accurate and fast assessment of the danger they're in, so they can get the right help as quickly as possible. The Safe Lives DASH (domestic abuse, stalking and 'honour' based violence) risk checklist is a tried and tested way to understand risk. It is based on research about the indicators of high-risk domestic abuse.

The DASH risk checklist can be used for all intimate partner relationships, including LGBT relationships, as well as for 'honour'-based violence and family violence. It is primarily intended for professionals - both specialist domestic violence workers and other professionals working for mainstream services.

The simple series of questions makes it easy to work out the risk a victim is facing. A high score means the victim is at high risk of murder and/or serious injury and needs urgent help.

Further information, including full practice guidance, can be accessed at Safelives: Practice Support.

Risk is dynamic and can change very quickly. Therefore, it is good practice to review the checklist after a new incident or change in circumstances e.g. leaving or planning to leave a relationship.

If following the undertaking of the DASH risk checklist, a case meets the relevant criteria it should be referred to the MARAC (Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference) via your organisation's MARAC representative or if you don't have one, then directly to the MARAC Co-ordinator:  

At the same time, you will need to make a referral to the IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) service.

MARACs are regular local meetings where information about high risk domestic abuse victims is shared between local agencies. By bringing all agencies together at a MARAC and that whenever possible the voice of the victim is represented by the IDVA, a risk focused, co-ordinated safety plan can be drawn up to support the victim.

Safeguarding Adults and Children

Safeguarding is about protecting people's right to be safe and stopping abuse. Always ensure you follow your organisation's safeguarding procedures.


If you are worried or concerned about the safety of a child or young person in South Tyneside then call:

0191 424 5010 (office hours)

0191 456 2093 (out of office hours)

For further information on how to report a concern, see Report a concern about a child.


An adult at risk of abuse or neglect is someone who has needs for care or support, is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect and as a result of those needs is unable to protect him or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

If you have concerns that an adult is at risk of either being harmed or abused in South Tyneside then call 0191 424 4049.

For further information on how to report a concern, see Report a concern about an adult.

Legal Aid

Legal aid can help meet the cost of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court of tribunal. It might be available if a person or their family have been victims of domestic violence or abuse and can't afford to pay legal costs.

Evidence that they were at risk of harm can be sought from a range of places, including:

  • The courts
  • The multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC)
  • Social services
  • A health professional: e.g. a doctor, nurse, midwife, psychologist or health visitor
  • A refuge manager
  • A domestic violence support service

Further information can be found at Legal Aid.

A specialist family solicitor will be able to advise victims about the availability of legal aid and how to access it.

The Law Society offers a free online 'Find a Solicitor' service which can help to find organisations or legal services by Legal Issue and Location.

Alternatively, you can search for local family lawyers on the resolution website.