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Indicators of domestic abuse such as coercive control

The practice aids below are derived from a range of sources and some are not Cafcass original documents. Each practice aid has been identified for use by Cafcass staff. Information on the source of each document is referenced in the further information section below.  

Resources for assessing domestic abuse

Our Family Court Advisers (FCAs) need to ensure that our assessments concerning domestic abuse focus on the impact on the child, are based on a combination of static and dynamic risk factors, information gathered and that it is analysed using reasoned professional judgement. Our FCAs use their social work skills but also need to be aware of the appropriate research base and which evidence-based practice aids will assist in being as clear as possible regarding the risk.

Read the Domestic abuse practice pathway

Read Domestic Abuse practice guidance

ResourceGuidance on useSource
What we need to knowPrivate/public law: use in interview to establish the nature, duration and context of domestic abuse, to assist in the benchmarking of risk against the Barnardo’s Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix.Cafcass
SafeLives DASH guidancePrivate law: Use in interview if domestic abuse is current to establish if a referral to MARAC is required.Safe Lives
SafeLives DASH practice aidsPrivate law: Use in interview if domestic abuse is current to establish if a referral to MARAC is required.Safe Lives
Spending Time Arrangements Safety IndicatorPrivate law: To be used during or post interview to analyse whether contact is safe / in child’s best interests.Cafcass – derived from Sturge and Glaser, 2000
Domestic Abuse Safety Planning aidThis aid can be used to enhance the safety of spending time arrangements where domestic abuse has been identified but the severity and likelihood of ongoing domestic abuse is low, please see the introduction section for further advice on when and how to use this aid.Cafcass A15b
Practice aid for Assessing coercive controlPrivate law: This aid should be used where the Safe Lives Dash has identified elements of coercive and/or controlling behaviour to assess this dynamic more fully in the context of the application.Cafcass
Situational couple violence GuidancePrivate law: Guidance on recognising situational couple violence and points to consider.Cafcass
Distinguishing domestic abuse and harmful conflict screening practice aidPrivate law: This aid is designed to be used early in the life of a case to assist the FCA in deciding which will be of most assistance in their assessment: the blue domestic abuse aids and guidance or the orange harmful conflict aids and guidance. It is not designed to be diagnostic in and of itself and does not replace professional judgement.Cafcass
Impact of DA on children guidancePrivate law: Provides FCAs with guidance on working with children who are living with domestic abuse and the trauma it can cause.    Cafcass
Motivation and indicators regarding victim empathyA new practice aid – based on the Sturge and Glaser criteria – has been introduced to the CIAF. It should not be used as a checklist or standalone aid, but as a supplemental guide to explore motivation and victim empathy within a holistic assessment alongside the static and dynamic risk factors.Cafcass – based on Sturge and Glaser, 2000
Supporting children’s arrangements assessing relatives and friends (SCAARF) practice aidAid for assessing wider family and friends to support contact.Cafcass
Fact Finding Recommendations practice aidThis practice aid should be used to support thinking and decision making before a recommendation for a fact-finding hearing (FFH) is made to the court.Cafcass
Child Impact TimelineThis timeline has a similar purpose to a chronology. Use it particularly in long running or repeated applications to establish patterns of harm/risk/impact.Cafcass