Domestic abuse: How ONRECORD helps you prove it and how CAFCASS assess it 

Use ONRECORD to prove domestic abuse

How ONRECORD helps you gather evidence proving domestic abuse and how to understand CAFCASS domestic abuse assessments.

Domestic abuse almost invariably occurs in private, so there are usually no witnesses. That means that the only evidence is likely to be your word, which may be denied by your abuser. The most important thing then, if you’re being abused, is to keep detailed notes, on every occasion, to prove what’s happened. Record repeated incidents because that will be the only way to prove what has happened and will also serve to illustrate the pressure you’re under. Attach to each record anything to support what you’re saying – a photo, a video, a screenshot – anything that helps you prove it’s happened.

ONRECORD is specifically designed to help anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse and needs a confidential, effective way to record and gather evidence. Developed by a lawyer and a doctor, ONRECORD is designed to give you all you need to be able to accurately record and gather essential, often crucial, evidence about your domestic abuse case.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is any type of violent, emotional, controlling, bullying, threatening behaviour between people in a relationship. It includes physical violence, emotional abuse, coercion and control, harassment and stalking. Your experience can be of a single type of abuse but usually more than one type of abuse occurs.

Domestic abuse can seriously harm children and young people who witness it and so domestic abuse can also be child abuse. Abuse can happen inside and outside the home, over the phone, on the internet and on social networking sites. It can occur in any relationship and can continue even after the relationship has ended. Both men and women can be abused or abusers.

Types of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can be physical, emotional, coercive or controlling, verbal, sexual and financial.

Some examples are:

  • Being kicked, hit, punched or cut;
  • Being screamed at;
  • Being humiliated or constantly criticised
  • Having your finances controlled by the withholding of money or being stopped from earning;
  • Controlling behaviour such as telling you where you can go and what you can wear;
  • Not letting you leave the house;
  • Having emails, text messages or letters read;
  • Receiving threats to harm or kill;
  • Having a family member or pet threatened;
  • Rape (including in a relationship – if you don’t consent it’s rape )

The harm caused by domestic abuse can be physical or emotional or cause the victim to have to limit or change their behaviour.

The impact on the victim’s family and friends should not be underestimated.

Get to know the CAFCASS guidance and procedures 

How to understand CAFCASS domestic abuse assessments

When CAFCASS use the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF), they have a standard set of guidance and analytic procedures to cope with a variety of situations amongst which is their assessment of families where there is domestic abuse.  I’ve listed their guidance and procedures for actually doing work with children where there is domestic abuse going on in the family.

You can use each link to see exactly what the FCA will be using.  If your case involves ‘domestic abuse where children have been harmed directly or indirectly, for example from the impact of coercive control’, you can see exactly what CAFCASS thinks is useful.  FCAs are expected to follow these processes although they do have discretion in how they conduct their assessments.

CAFCASS assessment of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse – what we need to know

This is used in interview to establish the nature, duration and context of domestic abuse, to assist in the benchmarking of risk against the Barnardo’s Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix.


SafeLives DASH guidance and the SafeLives DASH tool

This is used in interview if domestic abuse is current to establish if a referral to MARAC is required.


Assessment of coercive control

This should be used where the Safe Lives Dash has identified coercive and/or controlling behaviour to assess it more fully.


Barnado’s Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix (DV RIM) 

This is an analytical tool, not completed directly with the parents/carers. It can be used to explore the level of risk of domestic abuse. 


Safe contact indicator

This is used during or after an interview to analyse whether contact is safe and in the child’s best interests.


Tool for assessing whether a DAPP is appropriate

To be used to help decision-making on whether a DAPP is appropriate.


Situational couple violence guidance

This is guidance on how to recognise situational couple violence and what to consider.


Distinguishing domestic abuse and harmful conflict screening tool

This is designed to be used early on in a case to assist the FCA in deciding which will be of most assistance in their assessment: the domestic abuse tools and guidance or the harmful conflict tools and guidance. It is not designed to be a diagnostic tool in itself and does not replace professional judgement.


Impact on children of experiencing domestic abuse

This is guidance for FCAs on working with children who are living with domestic abuse.

Working with children

The guidance for observation of contact and the strengths and difficulties questionnaire come in different forms for each band of children’s age groups.

‘Say it your own way’This is a collection of worksheets which can be used to explore the child’s experience at home and in placement.
Adapted worry meterThis is a sliding scale, from ‘a little bit’ to ‘hugely’ which can be used along with Cafcass ‘emotion stickers’ to clarify the strength of the feeling the child has picked.
Board gameThis is a game designed to build trust with the child. The emotions of the board encourage the child to openly discuss their thoughts and feelings without it feeling like they are being questioned. The FCA joins in and shares thoughts and feelings.
I’ll go first’ toolkitThis is used with children with disabilities.
Observation of Contact



– For Infants up to One Year


– For children aged One to Five years


– For Primary School Children


– For Young People or Teenagers

This is guidance to assess the quality of contact and the ability of the parents/carers to meet children’s needs at contact, adapted for different age groups.
Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire:


Child aged 11-16


Main carer (younger child)


Main carer (older child) 


Teacher (younger child)


Teacher (older child)

The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a brief behavioural screening tool to screen for emotional and behavioural problems.

The version for ‘Child aged 11-16’ is for older children who can answer for themselves.  The other versions are for use with parents (main carer) or teachers.


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