7 Glossary


In general, advocacy for people who have experienced domestic violence includes:

  • legal, housing and financial advice

  • access to and use of community resources such as refuges, emergency housing and psychological interventions

  • safety planning advice.

The activities may differ according to the level of risk facing the person. Crisis advocacy involves working with the person for a limited period of time (they may then be referred on to more specialised agencies).

Practitioners providing advocacy can also provide ongoing support and informal counselling. The intensity of the advocacy provided may vary. It may last for a year – or longer, if the person is particularly vulnerable.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act, or a pattern of acts, involving assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse, to harm, punish or frighten someone. This includes so-called 'honour'-based violence and forced marriage. People who experience domestic violence can be male or female and from any ethnic group. (Home Office [2012] Ending violence against women and girls in the UK [accessed 6 November 2012].)

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour involves a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent. This could range from isolating them from sources of support to exploiting them for personal gain. It can also involve depriving them of the means to be independent, including stopping them from leaving and regulating their everyday behaviour. (Home Office [2012] New definition of domestic violence, 18 September 2012).

Children and young people affected by domestic violence and abuse

Children (aged under 16) and young people (aged 16 to 18) can experience domestic violence and abuse:

  • when they are affected by it; this includes fearing, hearing or seeing it within their families, or worrying about its effects on someone else

  • within their own intimate relationships.

Young people may also perpetrate domestic violence and abuse in their own intimate relationships and on their parents or carers.


For the purpose of this guidance, disclosure is defined as any occasion when an adult or child who has experienced or perpetrated domestic violence or abuse informs a health or social care worker or any other third party.

Domestic violence and abuse

The term 'domestic violence and abuse' is used to mean: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or are family members. This includes: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. It also includes 'honour'-based violence and forced marriage. For the purposes of this document, it does not include female genital mutilation, which may be referred to NICE as a future topic.

Elder abuse or maltreatment

Action or neglect, within a relationship in which there is an expectation of trust, that causes harm or distress to a person older than 60. The abuse can take various forms: physical, verbal, psychological, sexual and financial.

Floating support

In the context of this guidance, floating support is a housing service designed to prevent tenancy breakdowns. Floating support can also provide help with:

  • keeping safe and security measures

  • accessing legal advice and options

  • welfare benefits

  • budgeting and debts

  • life skills

  • resettlement or re-housing

  • accessing community services

  • form filling

  • pre-tenancy support

  • training, education and employment

Forced marriage

A forced marriage is one in which one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some adults with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage but are forced into it using physical, psychological, financial, sexual or emotional pressure. ('Handling cases of forced marriage', HM Government 2008). It is distinct from an arranged marriage that both partners enter into freely.

'Honour'-based violence or 'honour' violence

A crime or incident committed (or possibly committed) to protect or defend the perceived 'honour' of a family or community. Often this term is enclosed in quote marks, or prefaced with 'so-called', to emphasise that the concept of honour in these cases is contested and that it is generally invoked as a means of power and control.

Independent domestic violence advisers (IDVAs)

Also known as independent domestic violence advocates, IDVAs work primarily with people at high risk of domestic violence and abuse, independently of any one agency, to secure their safety and the safety of their children. Serving as the primary point of contact, IDVAs normally work with their clients from the point of crisis to assess the level of risk, discuss the options and develop plans that address their immediate safety, as well as longer-term solutions. In many areas they are funded by the local community safety partnership, in some areas they are funded by the police or local authorities.


Indicators are presenting problems or conditions that are associated with domestic violence and abuse. They can include:

  • symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders

  • suicidal tendencies or self-harming

  • alcohol or other substance use

  • unexplained chronic gastrointestinal symptoms

  • unexplained reproductive symptoms, including pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction

  • adverse reproductive outcomes, including multiple unintended pregnancies or terminations, delayed pregnancy care, miscarriage, premature labour and stillbirth

  • unexplained genitourinary symptoms, including frequent bladder or kidney infections

  • vaginal bleeding or sexually transmitted infections

  • chronic pain (unexplained)

  • traumatic injury, particularly if repeated and with vague or implausible explanations

  • problems with the central nervous system – headaches, cognitive problems, hearing loss

  • repeated health consultations with no clear diagnosis

  • intrusive 'other person' in consultations including partner or husband, parent, grandparent or an adult child (for elder abuse).

(Adapted from Black 2011.)

Multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs)

Regular meetings at which information about people experiencing domestic violence or abuse and who are at high risk (those at risk of homicide or serious harm) is shared between local agencies. Whenever possible, the person who experiences the violence is represented by an independent domestic violence adviser or advocate (IDVA). Participants aim to draw up a coordinated safety plan to support the person. In many areas they are funded by the local community safety partnership, in some areas they are funded by the police or local authorities.

No recourse to public funds

'No recourse to public funds' is a term used for people who are not entitled to welfare benefits, home office asylum support, public housing and other public funds and services. The term derives from the 'no recourse to public funds' condition applied to certain immigration statuses. 'Public funds' refers to a range of benefits including housing support, carer's allowance, child benefit, disability living allowance, housing benefit, income support and social fund payments.

Parenting support

Interventions that aim to improve parents' understanding of how domestic violence and abuse affects children and how to protect them. Most of the interventions found to be effective focus on non-abusive mothers and on strengthening the mother–child bond.

People who experience domestic violence and abuse

Throughout this guidance, 'people who experience domestic violence and abuse' refers to those who are victims or survivors of the violence and abuse.

Protected characteristics

The Equality Act (2010) makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone because of:

  • age

  • being or becoming a transsexual person

  • being married or in a civil partnership

  • being pregnant or having a child

  • disability

  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin

  • religion, belief or lack of religion/belief

  • sex

  • sexual orientation.

These are called 'protected characteristics'.

Refuge or shelter

Residential service – a safe house – provided for adults (usually women) and children who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse.

Risk identification and assessment

This process is undertaken with people who have disclosed that they are the victims of domestic violence and abuse. The aim is to evaluate their risk of further harm. Practitioners with level 2 training assess their immediate safety, for example, whether it is safe for the person to go home. Practitioners with level 3 training identify the risks faced in more detail to inform safety planning, referrals to specialist support services and to aid any police investigation. Almost all police forces in England and Wales use the DASH (domestic abuse, stalking and harassment and 'honour'-based violence) risk identification tool and guidance. A multi-sectoral version, CAADA-DASH, is used by independent domestic violence advisers, some domestic violence advocates and support workers, other specialist domestic abuse services and some health and social care practitioners.

Safety planning

An intervention to help people judge their risk of violence, identify the warning signs and develop plans on what to do when violence is imminent or is happening.

Skill building

Training and education to improve the skills of people who have experienced domestic violence and abuse. Typically it covers: problem solving and decision making, resilience and coping, financial skills, and understanding the dynamics of domestic violence and abuse. Sometimes it also includes other components; for example, relaxation and parenting skills.


A structured psychological or psychiatric treatment delivered by professional clinicians, such as psychologists. Therapeutic interventions may be delivered in an individual or group format.

Trans people

Trans is an umbrella term. It includes cross-dressers, transgender and transsexual people as well as anyone else who is in any way gender-variant.