Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse within youth justice can affect young people as perpetrators, witnesses or victims. It can affect various types of relationship including those between parents or carers and child, or intimate teenage relationships.

Domestic abuse covers a wider range of behaviours than domestic violence, and does not just mean sexual and physical violence.

There are many other forms of abuse that can take place within relationships, such as:

  • intimidating and threatening behaviour
  • playing down the impact of violence
  • financial abuse
  • isolating a victim from their family and friends
  • emotional abuse


A new definition of domestic violence and abuse came into effect on 31 March 2013.

The extension of the definition includes 16 and 17-year-olds, and includes 'coercive control', meaning that there does not have to be a single incident of violence, as previously required.

The Home Office, in partnership with Against Violence and Abuse, has created guidance for local areas on how this definition will affect their services.

Definition of domestic violence and abuse: guide for local areas

Interventions and tools for practitioners

Step Up

The Step Up programme was developed in King's County Seattle, as a groupwork programme for young people who have been violent towards a parent/carer.

The programme is being used across a number of youth offending teams, and some of Derbyshire YOT's materials are included.

Visit the effective practice library for more information on the programme. 

Toolkits for work with young people


Respect focus on young people using violence against others in close relationships.

They have developed a toolkit for work with young people in 2011, which has been piloted and evaluated across five sites in the UK.

You can access the evaluation on their website, and receive details of their bi-annual practitioners network, giving you an opportunity to find out more about developing practice in this field.


Break4change is a programme for young people who are abusive or violent to their parents or carers. The programme is run in partnership between the YOT, youth crime prevention workers, Rise and the Family Intervention Project.

Visit the effective practice library for more information on the programme.

DARE (domestic abuse, recovery and education)

This is a community-based programme for children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse, delivered by Newcastle YOT .

Visit the effective practice library  for more information on the programme.

Online resources

The resources below can be used to work through with young people, or shown to a young person to work through themselves.

Sites like these will often be the first places that a young person will visit if they are looking for information or help around domestic abuse.

Two well known interactive sites are:

This is ABUSE
This Home Office campaign currently focuses on rape and sexual assault among young people.

It is aimed at young people directly, but practitioners can make use of the materials and information on the site when working with a young person.
The site contains videos, quizzes and a section on getting help if a young person is worried about abuse.


Equation, formerly known as the Nottingham Domestic Violence Forum, runs two sites dedicated to young people on the subject of domestic abuse:

  • Respect Not Fear
    Aimed at young people, with a set of resources aimed at helping them recognise and report abusive relationships.

  • The GREAT Project
    Aimed at children of primary school age, and also has a section for adults worried about domestic abuse and young children.
Both sites contain interactive elements, including an iPhone app.

The NDVF site - holds information about domestic abuse practice, training and events for practitioners.

Further information for practitioners

The sites below contain a wealth of background information for practitioners on domestic abuse, including newsletters, national campaigns, academic research and online forums.

Holes in the Wall
Holes in the Wall is a blog and collection of resources and current stories dealing with the issues surrounding child-to-parent domestic abuse.

Teenage relationship abuse campaign

This Home Office campaign ran from September to December 2011.


  • Support materials
  • Publications and research, including the action plan ‘A call to end violence against women and girls’
  • Advice to schools and young people
  • Links to newsletters on the work to tackle violence against women and girls

Against Violence and Abuse children and young people campaign

Against Violence and Abuse are a charity that provides support, resources and training to local authorities and individual practitioners.

Their website contains information on their children and young people focused project, which includes a forum for practitioners to seek and share good practice.

NSPCC domestic abuse practice page

The NSPCC have a section online that deals specifically with domestic abuse practice, and work with children and families.


  • Examples of interventions
  • Links to relevant research
  • Information of assessment and referrals 
Boys to Men

The project, called From Boys to Men, sought to establish what more could be done to reduce the number of young men who become perpetrators. The report outlines the findings of a three-year study led by Professor David Gadd from The University of Manchester and Dr Claire Fox, from Keele University.

Over half of the 13 and 14-year-olds surveyed have already experienced domestic abuse, whether as victims, witnesses or perpetrators.

Adolescent to parent violence: Framing and mapping a hidden problem

This research, published in Criminology and Criminal Justice, is the first large scale academic study into the prevalence of adolescent to parent domestic abuse reveals that parents are living in fear of their abusive and violent teenagers  and are being left without appropriate support.

View an abstract

Adolescent to Parent abuse: Current Understandings and Future Directions 

Adolescent to parent abuse front cover

This book is published by Policy Press and is the first UK book to explore adolescent-to-parent abuse. Its draws on both original research from the UK and other research findings from around the world.

It looks at the prevalence of the problem, how parents experience adolescent-to-parent abuse and what possible explanations there are for it.

The books also discusses how frontline practitioners are responding to the problem and how intervention programmes have been developed to work with families.   

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