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Evidence of what works

Adults :: Domestic Abuse :: Evidence of what works

Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC)

These are regular meetings at which information about people experiencing domestic violence or abuse and who are at high 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 from the various agencies aim to develop a coordinated safety plan to support the person. It was established originally in Cardiff and the evaluation showed that at the six month stage 63% of people were living free from violence and harm and at the twelve month stage this figure had fallen to 42%[1].

Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA)

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. A multi-site evaluation of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors[2] found that abuse stopped completely in two-thirds of cases where there was intensive support from an IDVA service including multiple interventions.

Children affected by domestic abuse

It is important for agencies to work concurrently with both the non-abusive parent or carer and child, rather than just focusing on the parent. It is also important to ensure that services are appropriate to the age, gender and developmental stage of the child or young person. For example, teenagers may not want to be seen at the same time as their non-abusive parent or carer.

Perpetrator programmes

There is a lack of consistent evidence on the effectiveness of programmes for people who perpetrate domestic violence and abuse. Some evaluations take account of the partner's health and wellbeing and include their perception of any changes in the perpetrator's behaviour, but these tend to be small-scale, uncontrolled studies.

The Rotterdam Code of Conduct for Reporting Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

This is a step-by-step action plan for care providers and institutions that can be followed where domestic violence or child abuse are suspected or detected[3]. The action plan offers support to carers by making clear what is expected of them. This clarity is not only important for the care provider, but also for providing effective help to the victim and the perpetrator. The reporting code involves five key steps :

Step 1: Identifying the signs Step 2: Peer consultation and, if necessary, consultation with the relevant counselling body Step 3: Interview with the client Step 4: Assess the information and the risk Step 5: Reaching a decision: organising or reporting assistance

It was introduced to all care providers and institutions that offered education, shelter, assistance, care or support (e.g. teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses and psychiatric nurses, childcare employees, carers). These organisations became legally required to sign the 'Code of Conduct' assigning responsibility onto themselves and their staff to report cases of abuse and suspected abuse. As soon as a care provider started work at an institution that had signed the protocol, the employer was required to ensure that their new employee was capable of effectively following the protocol. Before 2006, approximately 1,200 cases of domestic abuse were recorded each year in the City of Rotterdam. Following implementation of the 'Code of Conduct', the number of cases increased to around 6,000 to 7,000 per year. This confirmed that, previously, domestic abuse cases had been severely under-reported and more abuse cases were now being realised. Excluding the increased levels in reporting, the true extent of the effectiveness of the new 'Code of Conduct' policy has still yet to be clarified.


[1]   Robinson A. Domestic Violence MARACs (Multi-Agency Risk assessment Conferences) for Very High-Risk Victims in Cardiff, Wales: A Process and Outcome Evaluation 2004; Cardiff University. .
[2]   Howarth E, Stimpson L, Barran D, et al. Safety in Numbers. A Multi-site Evaluation of Independent Domestic Violence Advisor Services 2009; The Hestia Fund, The Sigrid Rausing Trust and The Henry Smith Charity. .
[3]   Government of the Netherlands. Domestic violence and child abuse protocol 2013; Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. .