Supporting women affected by abuse

Children and domestic abuse

20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse (Radford et al. NSPCC, 2011)


62% of children in households where domestic violence is happening are also directly harmed (SafeLives, 2015)


If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you have probably tried to shield your children from the worst of the abuse. But it is important to realise that in most situations where abuse is present, children inevitable become aware of it and are often the subject of the abuse. A large number of these children suffer through the physical and psychological effects into adulthood.


To cope with the impact of domestic abuse, children can adopt many different coping strategies. Some of the signs that your child is experiencing the effects of domestic abuse are:

– tiredness

– sleeplessness

– bed-wetting

– anger

– withdrawal

– depression

– abnormalities around food such as eating too much or not wanting to eat

– sadness

– loneliness

– wanting to over-achieve or underachieving.


Domestic abuse can also lead to substance misuse where children can be living two lives – one at home and one outside the home. Domestic abuse can make children feel safer in the street than at home.

How can I help my children safe?


1) Talk to your children: You can keep your children safe by keeping them informed and by creating a healthy and safe relationship with them so they are able to talk to you.

Children are silent witnesses and what they witness can create lifelong confusion. Talk to them and communicate rationale for decision making regularly.


2) Understand the cycle of violence: You can keep your children safe by understanding the behaviours perpetrator adopt to use children as pawns in the battles of domestic abuse. Ensure you speak to specialists to support you in ensuring the perpetrator is not able to use this controlling behaviour to rule the children’s lives.


3) Get help: We can speak with you about child protection and reporting abuse. Your local social care support will help you with action plans towards safeguarding. Parents find this useful in helping them understand the depth of the abuse and take decisive actions to move away from an abusive environment.


4) Report the abuse: You can report to the police, to your GP or to you child’s school.