What is this guidance about?

This guidance aims to help identify, prevent and reduce domestic violence and abuse. Violence and abuse perpetrated on children by adults ('child abuse') is not dealt with in this guidance, but it does include support for children who are affected by domestic violence and abuse.

Domestic violence and abuse is a complex issue that needs sensitive handling by a range of health and social care professionals. The cost, in both human and economic terms, is so significant that even marginally effective interventions are cost effective.

Women and men can experience this type of violence in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. The prevalence of physical assaults from a partner or adult family member is higher among heterosexual women than among men. Moreover, heterosexual women experience more repeated physical violence, more severe violence, much more sexual violence, more coercive control, more injuries and more fear of their partner.

The recommendations cover the broad spectrum of domestic violence and abuse, including violence perpetrated on men, on those in same-sex relationships and on young people.

Working in a multi-agency partnership is the most effective way to approach the issue at both an operational and strategic level. Initial and ongoing training and organisational support is also needed.

There was not sufficient evidence to make recommendations on primary prevention programmes. Most of the evidence about this relates to interventions in educational settings and these are outside the scope of this guidance unless they are delivered by a health or social care professional. Prevention is an important area for future research (see Recommendations for research).

The guidance is for health and social care commissioners, specialist domestic violence and abuse staff and others whose work may bring them into contact with people who experience or perpetrate domestic violence and abuse. (For details, see Who should take action?) In addition it may be of interest to members of the public.

See About this guidance for details of how the guidance was developed and its current status.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)