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Our Practice in Manchester

Our practice model for assessing and intervening where domestic abuse, controlling and coercive behaviours are featuring is the Safe & Together model. This model has three key principles and five core components. The model has been incorporated into both Manchester Safeguarding Partnership training, all training offered by the Social Work Consultants and Children’s Service Practice Standards.


The Safe and Together Model is a perpetrator pattern based, child centred, survivor strengths approach to working with domestic violence. The model was originally developed for use within the child welfare systems. Applying the model has both policy and practice implications for a variety of professionals, organisations and systems. Including domestic violence advocates, family support services, courts and others. 


The model is behaviourally focused and highlights how work is carried out practically and with concrete system changes in practice. The model has a growing body of evidence associated with it including recent correlations with a reduction in out of home placements in child welfare domestic violence cases.


Supporting Practice

In order to promote the principles of the Safe & Together model in our practice there are two main streams of support for practitioners draw upon. On this page you can find information about coercive control, tips and resources for a domestic violence informed response, and a list of organisations that work with both survivors and perpetrators. 





Learning, Training & Coaching 

Online Domestic Violence Workshops:

Covering a range of topics relevant to children’s safeguarding, these monthly workshops strive to provide practitioners with relevant research, practice tools and strategies for addressing domestic violence, which are aligned to Manchester’s practice framework. These workshops are open to all Children’s Services Practitioners and external partner agencies within the Manchester Safeguarding Partnership and are facilitated by Social Work, Education and Health representatives. The schedule for 2021 is:


  • 25 February 2021, 10:00am - 11:30am (Case Study #1 - Applying Safe & Together)
  • 23 March 2021, 2:00pm - 3:30pm (Use of Language in Recording & Direct Work)
  • 22 April 2021, 10:00am - 11:30am (Multi Agency Work & Planning)
  • 25 May 2021, 2:00pm - 3:30pm (Making a Good Referral for Services, Panels, etc.)
  • 24 June 2021, 10:00am - 11:30am (Case Study #2, Parental Alienation)
  • 20 July 2021, 2:00pm - 3:30pm (International Practice & UK Legal Aspects)
  • 26 August 2021, 10:00am - 11:30am (Intervening, Practical Support, Culture)
  • 21 September 2021, 2:00pm - 3:30pm (Complicating Factors in Risk Management)
  • 21 October 2021, 10:00am -11:30am (Case Study #3)
  • 23 November 2021, 2:00pm - 3:30pm (Post Separation & Contact Arrangements)
  • 14 December 2021, 10:00am - 11:30am (Promoting Healing and Working With)

Safe & Together Clinics:

Safe & Together Clinics are offered for teams or individual practitioners. 


During the clinics there is focus on particular dilemmas being experiencing by the practitioner / team in their work with a family. A reflective discussion about how to apply the Safe and Together model within their work with that family. During which strategies are explored with an aim of developing concrete next steps in their work. 


Clinics are generally Monday’s 1 - 2:30pm. 

Safe & Together Institute

Coercive Control

Coercive control is a form of psychological abuse whereby the perpetrator exerts power over a victim, often through intimidation or humiliation. The Government definition also outlines the following:


  • Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.


  • Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour


The Serious Crime Act 2015 (the 2015 Act) created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships. The new offence closes a gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour in an ongoing relationship between intimate partners or family members. Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship: Statutory Guidance Framework, December 2015. 


Coercive control is domestic abuse. Mumsnet, Women's Aid and Surrey Police have joined together to help raise awareness of the dangers of coercive control.





Luke Hart talks about his experience of domestic violence and coercive control within his childhood and into his adult life. If you are not familiar with Luke and Ryan Hart’s stories, take time to view his keynote speech. Their mother and sister were murdered by their father in 2016. Their book, Remembered Forever, is highly recommended reading for practitioners.






Professor Evan Stark gives a lecture to help improve understanding of coercive control, a new offence in the United Kingdom. 






Domestic Violence Informed Response


During this period it will be significantly important to partner with survivors, while also engaging with and supporting perpetrators in order to lessen the impact of any adverse experiences for the children.

    •    Review all safety plans developed previous to Covid-19 as much of these will now be irrelevant.

    •    Apply the SAFE & TOGETHER MODEL COVID-19 QUICK PRACTICE GUIDE: A Mapping Tool Supplement to reassess the situation.

    •    Ensure that the survivor’s safety plan is documented and uploaded under their own record with a note on the child’s file reflecting this.

 

Government Covid-19 Advice

  • While general advice is to stay at home because of the COVID 19 pandemic, if adults and children feel at risk of imminent harm or are involved in an incident of domestic abuse they should where possible seek help and remove themselves to a place of safety outside of the home, or if not possible within. 
  • The Home Secretary has been clear that if there is a need for a parent to leave the home for safety reasons, this should be the perpetrator in the first instance. 
  • Contact arrangements: 
    • Government advice currently is that children under the age of 18 can move between homes in which they spend time on a regular basis, for example between separated or divorced carers. Cafcass Covid-19 guidance.
    • Advice is that consideration needs to be given to how transitions between homes are managed, so as far as possible not to use public transport and following social distancing advice while moving and on arrival between parents/carers.
    • If either home is under quarantine because someone is showing symptoms of the COVID 19 virus or because they have come into contact with some one who has the virus, this should take precedence over trying to maintain normal arrangements. 


Reduce stress and promote healthy coping

Promote healthy family functioning and coping strategies with families. Provide support to promote: 

    •    Healthy and consistent family routines 

    •    Equal parenting roles 

    •    Playtime for the children, and, between children and parents

    •    Alone times for family members


Promote family networks

    •    Establish who can/will provide practical support where possible to alleviate stressors.

    •    Promote accessibility and establish a consistent check in process with families.

    •    Using multiagency partners to support the network.


Partnering with the survivor: things to note with Covid-19

  • Partnering means saying what you are worried about, validating experiences and talking things through with survivors in a way that empowers them to make informed choices.
  • Encourage them to ask for what they need in this context.
  • It will be important to identify all the ways survivors are making efforts to promote safety and wellbeing, in this context, and, think about how we can support them to continue this while the circumstances continue.
  • Isolation is a common form of exercising control. In supporting survivors and children consider how social connections can be increased and isolation may be decreased to allow for as many opportunities for survivors and children to seek help and access support as safely as possible. Consider if the children are eligible to access childcare provision or education, or, other online child appropriate groups. 
  • Be non judgement - Survivors’ collusion with perpetrators is likely to increase during this period out of a means to protect their child from a more severe experience. For example, a survivor has made the decision to punish the child to prevent the perpetrator from causing more harm than she would. 
  • Be informed of and able to provide information about supportive services.


Intervening with the perpetrator: things to note with Covid-19

  • Police  and other domestic violence services are still operating and should be used.
  • The kinds of risks that men pose to their partners and children might be quite different right now due to COVID, social distancing measures and to major changes that have occurred in families (e.g., closed childcare, schools, job loss). For example, there may be families where mothers are at work and fathers are not, meaning that fathers are suddenly having considerably more responsibility for caring for children. Even if mothers are doing the majority of caregiving, it may be the case that fathers who don’t normally spend a lot of time in the home may be around constantly which may elevate risks because it may limit mothers’ privacy and ability to access support and children’s ability to escape from his coercion, hostility, anger and abuse. 
  • When you make contact with fathers, focus on the following:
  • Making a connection so that he has someone to reach out to and so that his partner is not the only one bearing the load of risk. 
  • Ask questions that allow you to assess and monitor men’s risk to their families. This includes thinking about recent and current stressors that men and their families are facing. 
  • Working with men to understand their risk to others and to counter this with prosocial desires such as being a good father, keeping their relationship, avoiding arrest, etc. 
  • Providing as much practical support as you can to help manage immediate stress. Service could include helping fathers access supports for the family (e.g., food banks). 
  • Provide information to support services. Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327


Checking in with children: things to note with Covid-19

  • Be aware of that children may be reluctant to speak freely due to conversations being monitored, feeling worried about repercussions if they speak out. 
  • Inform children that any violence in the home is not their fault. 
  • Ensure the child has a safety plan for themselves and knows how to contact others if needed.


When making contact with survivors

  • When contacting survivors be aware that survivors and children may not be safe to talk freely and may have concerns:
  • That the call may be overheard.
  • That the survivor may not be in control of their phone or computer. 
  • There could be impersonation during, or, interception of chat / texts / email communication.
  • There may be other people in the room. Consider the presence of children may prevent a survivor talking openly as they may be trying to shield their children from their experience.
  • When able to speak with the survivor openly, establish a way of verifying the identity of the survivor (e.g., use a code word or phrase) for future contact over telephone / text / email / social media apps.

Establish:

Are they able to talk freely now?


  • Is it safe/ok to talk right now?
  • Is this the best way to talk right now?
  • When possible consider developing a code word or phrase that the survivor could use to alert to being unsafe or not able to talk, needing to go.
  • There may be long pauses or gaps in the conversation, which may mean that the survivor is pre-occupied with trying to manage the call / text / chat with you. 
  • Dropped calls may occur; or they may need to hang‐up quickly for safety or privacy reasons. Ask the survivor ahead of time what protocol works best for them. Do they prefer that you call them back, or to have you wait for them to call you back?

1

Establish: 

Is the survivor is safe now?


  • This can be done by exploring the family functioning.
  • Ask questions about how the household functioning has changed. This can provide insight into how things are in the home. For example, via telephone calls or texts ask: 
    • How is everyone coping with the situation? 
    • What are you doing through the day? 
    • What things is everyone doing? 
  • Explore whether the survivor has freedom of movement in and out of the house. For example ask: 
    • Is she getting daily exercise, going for a walk or getting outside 
    • Is anyone going with her?
  • Explore if there is anyone in the family network who is monitoring the family in terms of the survivor and children’s wellbeing and perpetrators behaviours.
    • Are you and the children keeping in touch with [family / friend]?

2

Inform and Support


  • Encourage them to ask for what they need.
  • Are they aware of what services they can access, and, how to access them
  • Do they have an alternative safe place to go to if needed?

National 24hr DV Helpline 0808 2000 247 

National LGBT Helpline 0300 999 5428 

National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300

Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327

  • For additional community/voluntary support services, including specific populations is available here.
  • Advise of Silent Solutions

3

  • Conversations can be monitored / overheard.
  • Voice messages: Will leaving a message undermine safety? Before leaving a message with someone other than the survivor, or a voicemail, talk to the survivor about their safety and privacy needs, and what kind of information (if any) to leave in your message. Work with the survivor to choose options for this that best suit their current situation.
  • Is it necessary to block your number from showing up on the caller ID of the person receiving your call? Where you can turn the caller ID on or off.
  • Some survivors may have their phone set up to reject calls from blocked numbers, and some survivors may have installed apps that can reveal numbers that are blocked. This may be a safety strategy to protect against harassment. 

Think about communication

  • As best as possible use the technology they are using, initially. But also offer information and options to allow them to make an informed choice about the means of communication moving forward.
  • Is the form of communication matched to the survivors abilities and language needs?
  • Will the telephone / online meeting you have with them be discoverable by someone else?
  • Work with the survivor to determine the means of communication that can best accommodate their ability, access, needs, and preferences. 
  • Check in periodically to see if the agreed tool of communication is still a safe and preferred method of communicating. 
  • Develop a plan of action if the survivor has to abruptly end the discussion. The plan should include if the survivor has to call back or if the worker will call back, how long to wait before reconnecting, or the best way to follow up, if they cannot return to the call.

Phone calls

Text

  • Both the sender and receiver has the history of the entire conversation thread, date and time, and perhaps even location; this could pose risk for a survivor’s safety and privacy. Others may see those messages if they have access to the device. Message history can also be revealed if the perpetrator is monitoring the phone through physical access, monitoring software on the phone, or backups online.
  • Recommend deleting messages as soon as possible from all devices as well as cloud accounts where messages could be stored.
  • Remind the survivor about cloud accounts such as iCloud or Google may backup the messages or make them available on other devices. 

Video Calls

  • If using video conferencing to communicate with a survivor who is using a computer, be aware that their computer/device could be monitored. It may also be possible for someone to know who the survivor is speaking with, when and even how long the call took simply by accessing the computer or device.
  • Benefit of allowing for visual and audio cues to be picked up on during.
  • Easier to involve 3rd party (e.g., interpreter / sign language)
  • Can be easily viewed if the survivor is being monitored.
  • Can be recorded or listened in on. 

Email

  • Can be accessed if the account login details are known by others. 
  • Can be easily read by others if monitoring.
  • Can be accessed from other devices which may be monitored.
  • Discussions need to be deleted twice - messages are held in the deleted items folder until deleted from there.
  • Delete their initial email and/or any previous thread. This way, if the email gets intercepted or accessed by the abuser, the request for assistance or the entire history of the conversation isn’t revealed.

Domestic Violence Community Organisations

For details of national helplines, go to: www.gov.uk/report-domestic-abuse

Quick Links:

Live Chat - This could be a safer way to access some support; particularly if an abuser might also be in the property so it would be unsafe to make a telephone call.

Women’s Aid Email Service

Survivor’s Handbook

Survivor’s Forum

Services for Specific Populations

IKWRO’s mission is to protect Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls who are at risk of ‘honour’ based violence, forced marriage,child marriage,female genital mutilationanddomestic violence and to promote their rights.

Programs for Men

Services for Children & Young People

Resolve Counselling Services - An emotional health and well-being service for children affected by domestic abuse.

Referral Info & Form Here


Developed by: Stephen Brock, M.S.W., Social Work Consultant. stephen.brock@manchester.gov.uk 

© 2021