Some domestic abuse relationships are characterised by separations and reconciliations. Professionals must be alert to the possibility that a separated couple may be back together and should not rely on a previous claim that the relationship had permanently ended.
Even where alternative accommodation has been provided to enable escape from an abusive partner, in some cases the mother will still let her partner know where she and the children are.
In some cases where the police are called out, the mother will later retract the allegation, minimising or justifying the attack.
Victims of domestic abuse are afraid of the consequences of speaking out and seeking help. One example is where a mother was told that any further domestic violence incidents would lead to a child protection conference. Another woman said she had not told anyone because "he had threatened to burn her and the child if she told anyone or left him".
Some women feel a responsibility for keeping the family together. This risk increases in some minority ethnic communities where women who speak out, risk losing the support of their community.
Other members of the mother's family may be aware of and concerned about the domestic abuse. However it can be difficult for them to speak to either her or her partner about it. One mother of a teenage mum (who was still living with her) said she felt she could not ask her daughter's partner to move out.