The report Domestic Violence and Social Care, by the Social Services Inspectorate, highlights how some women live in fear of abuse in their own homes.
Herbert Laming, Chief Inspector of SSI, said: 'There is no professional in any social services department who has not come across domestic violence. It can include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. It might cause long-term emotional and psychological damage and leave in its wake serious health and social problems.
'This report is the first of its kind published by the SSI and it brings together current research in the field with practical advice to agencies. Importantly, it highlights the link between domestic violence and child abuse.
Findings in the report include:
-- violence against women by partners, ex-partners and relatives is the most common form of physical assault;
-- victims perceive domestic violence as serious but often do not report it to the police or other agencies;
-- if a woman is being abused, there is a high probability that her children may also be abused;
-- a woman with children may find it more difficult to leave a violent relationship;
-- safety must take priority in establishing models of practice for social services departments;
-- violent men's aggression is linked to other coercive and intimidating acts and they reject or deflect responsibility for violence;
Good practice of social services department's was also examined. The report found that women and children need:
-- a believing and supportive response from any individual or agency approached;
-- once a woman has decided to end the relationship and make permanent changes she should be able to do so quickly and effectively;
-- effective protection under the law;
-- a safe place to go.