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TitleSafeguarding Adults in Social Work (Transforming Social Work Practice)
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Page 2

Safeguarding Adults
in Social Work

Page 105


While there are clearly difficulties in establishing the prevalence of domestic violence,
the extent of the research available reveals that this is an issue that needs to be
carefully considered in all our practice. Information in relation to prevalence among
people who may be defined as vulnerable is limited, but the initial findings high-
lighted above indicate that prevalence is likely to be higher.

For many years practice in relation to safeguarding children failed to take adequate
account of the prevalence of domestic violence. Similarly, practice in the family courts
often failed to take adequate account of violent behaviour by men towards women
when considering contact applications (Humphreys and Stanley, 2006; Radford and
Hester, 2006). Recognising the connections between these discourses has been critical
in ensuring that more appropriate decisions are made that incorporate a proper
understanding of the risk posed by violent men. The importance of recognising com-
plexity and interconnections is also highlighted by Littlechild and Bourke in
Humphreys and Stanley (2006, p213). They argue that in relation to child care, if we:

incorporate our knowledge of the problems caused by such men’s violence
into child care policy and practice, rather than seeing domestic violence as a
separate issue from the protection of children, we will be able to protect
abused children, abused family members, and social work staff more

This is equally relevant in relation to policy and practice with vulnerable adults, where
there is a need to incorporate our knowledge of the problems caused by domestic
violence, rather than seeing this as a separate issue. At the same time, it is also
important to recognise and draw on the research and expertise that have been devel-
oped in relation to domestic violence, in order to protect abused adults more

It is also important that the gendered nature of most domestic violence does not blunt
our sensitivity to the abuse of vulnerable men, which has hitherto received little
attention. It might be reasonable to work from the premise that disabled men may
be twice as likely to be abused as non-disabled men, given that this appears to be the
case for disabled women.

Understanding and responding to domestic
Various theories about the causes of domestic violence have been developed (see
Calder, 2004, p23 for a useful summary), but the work of McDonald (2005) is parti-
cularly helpful as it provides a useful framework when analysing approaches to
safeguarding adults. He argues that the ascendancy of neoliberalism in Australia
has resulted in managerial service responses that individualise and pathologise domes-
tic violence. He proposes four perspectives:

. victim blaming;


Chapter 6 Domestic violence: Understanding the connections

Page 207

service provision, eligibility, 168-9
sexual abuse

of adults with learning difficulties, 17
defined, 11-12
prevalence, 13
serial, 17
see also child sexual abuse

sexuality, learning disabled, 171
shaper, 163
Shaping Our Lives (2007), 101
Sheffield City Council inquiry (2004), 18
sign language, 129
significant harm, 11
situational abuse, 16
social movement perspective, domestic violence,

social work

areas of responsibility, 19
decision-making in, 166
directions and guidance, 19-20
domestic violence, 100
principles of practice, 115-16

Social Work Services Inspectorate, 61
socialisation, culture and, 143

cultural diversity, 103
preoccupation with risk, 169

solution-focused work, 96-7
Solzhenitsyn’s disease, 39
spouse abuse, 17

picture boards, 130
resistance to change, 145
supporting through change, 149

statutory organisations, collaborative working
across, 160-2

Stephen Lawrence case, 111, 112
stigma, 46
stories, organisational culture, 142
Strasbourg case law, 33
structural perspective, domestic violence, 96, 97
struggle, empowerment through, 113
supervision, 132

collaborative working, 154
in decision-making, 57

support networks, decision-making, 57
Sutton and Merton inquiry (2007), 18, 141, 147
symbols, organisational culture, 142

‘tainting’ evidence, 87
targeting, resources, 168-9
team workers, typology, 163

teamworking, 162
textual cues, 130
Theft Act (1968), 26
torture, freedom from, 37-8
transformational change, 146-7

freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading,

unacceptable, 17
see also consent to treatment; mistreatment;

refusal of treatment
trials, right to fair and public, 40
trust, collaborative working, 154
turn-taking, communicative, 123-4

UK prevalence survey, 10, 11, 13
unsound mind, 38, 39
user perspective, adult protection investigations,

user-focused communication, improving, 128-


values, change process, 144-5
Valuing people (DoH, 2001), 145
verbal communication, 120
verbal refusal of treatment, 53
victim blaming, 95
vision, change process, 144-5
visual impairment, 123-4
visual symbols, 130
voice, empowerment through, 113

concept of, 10
defining our understanding about, 107
eligibility for service provision, 168-9
legal protection, Scotland, 64-8
linked to impairment, 119
perceptions of, 45
risk associated with, 167

vulnerable adults, 10
abusers as, 16
definitions, 63, 169
multi-agency protection, 20-1
need to understand domestic violence, 94
protection see adult protection; Protection of

Vulnerable Adults
vulnerable witnesses, achieving best evidence,


Waldegrave, William, 161



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