Children who see domestic abuse are victims too


who see,

hear or experience the effects of abuse are



Children who see domestic abuse are victims too


It could be anyone.

Around 1 in 5 adults have experienced domestic abuse at some time since the age of 16.

It accounts for one in eight crimes in London, with incidents only increasing. 

One in five homicides is a domestic homicide. 


Even if children are not direct recipients of abuse, there is still a huge impact.

Pre-school children are likely to have behavioural problems and blame themselves.

Older children are likely to have their lives disrupted. This could be by poor performance at school, self-harm and running away from home.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is a serious issue. But we’re not just talking about husbands hitting wives, like you might have seen in the movies. We’re talking about men abusing women, women abusing men, physically, emotionally, and financially – in all types of relationships and often within families.

But what about the wider impact it has? What about the kids who witness it? Well, recently the law recognises that Children aged under 18 years who see, hear or experience the effects of abuse are victims too, if they are related or have a parental relationship to the adult victim or perpetrator of the abuse.

Why does it happen?

It’s not simple. Domestic abuse is a problem with multiple underlying factors. It’s crucial to understand it’s never justified or acceptable. But there’s often a lot going on in the background which can contribute to this type of behaviour, and it helps to try and understand it: 

Power and control dynamics: This can stem from a desire to maintain dominance, establish authority, or exert control over various aspects of the victim’s life.

Learned behaviour: Some people may have grown up in households where domestic abuse was present, leading them to believe it is a normal or acceptable way to behave in relationships.

Social and cultural norms: Societal beliefs and cultural attitudes towards gender roles, power dynamics, and interpersonal relationships can play a role in perpetuating or enabling domestic abuse.

Unresolved conflict and communication issues: Difficulties in managing conflict, poor communication skills, and an inability to express emotions effectively can contribute to escalating tensions within relationships.

Substance abuse: The misuse of drugs or alcohol can impair judgment and exacerbate violent behaviour, increasing the likelihood of domestic abuse.

Mental health issues: While mental health problems do not excuse or justify domestic abuse, they can be a contributing factor. Conditions such as anger management issues, personality disorders, or untreated trauma may influence abusive behaviours.

Who are the victims?

Intimate partners: Married or cohabiting couples, dating relationships, and same-sex partnerships.

Family members: Between parents and children, siblings, or other relatives living in the same household.

Older people: Older adults can also experience domestic abuse, which may be perpetrated by their adult children, caregivers, or partners.

Children: Domestic abuse in households can have a significant impact on children, whether they are direct victims or witnesses to the abuse. This can have long-term emotional, psychological, and developmental consequences.

How can you tell if someone is experiencing domestic abuse?

Recognising the signs of domestic abuse can be crucial in helping a victim of it. Here are some common indicators that may suggest the presence of domestic abuse:

Physical: Unexplained injuries (bruises, cuts, broken bones), particularly if they occur repeatedly or with changing explanations.

Emotional and behavioural changes: Frequent episodes of sadness, anxiety, fear, or depression. The victim may display low self-esteem, withdrawal from social activities, or changes in personality.

Control and isolation: The abusive partner may exert excessive control over the victim’s activities, including monitoring their whereabouts, isolating them from friends and family, or restricting their access to finances or communication devices.

Verbal or emotional abuse: Frequent belittling, humiliation, name-calling, or using threats to instill fear in the victim. This may involve constant criticism, put-downs, or manipulation to undermine the victim’s self-worth.

Financial manipulation: Controlling or limiting the victim’s access to money, refusing to provide financial support, or preventing them from working or accessing resources independently.

Sexual coercion or assault: Forcing or coercing the victim into sexual acts against their will, disregarding their boundaries, or engaging in non-consensual sexual activities.

Pattern of escalating violence: The abuse may start with less severe incidents and gradually escalate over time. This can include an increase in frequency, intensity, or severity of physical or emotional abuse.

What is the impact of domestic abuse?

Emotional and psychological impact: It often takes a toll on a victim’s mental well-being. It can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), low self-esteem, and feelings of fear, shame, and guilt. These emotional scars can persist long after the abusive relationship has ended.

Social isolation: Abusers often employ tactics to isolate victims from their support systems, including family, friends, and communities. This can lead to loneliness and disconnection, making it more difficult for victims to seek help.

Financial difficulties: Controlling finances and restricting access to resources is a common tactic in domestic abuse. Victims are left financially dependent or struggling to support themselves and their children, exacerbating their vulnerability.

Impact on children: Children who witness or experience domestic abuse in their households can suffer long-term emotional, psychological, and developmental consequences. They may struggle with trust, have difficulty forming healthy relationships, and experience behavioural problems or academic difficulties.

Inter-generational cycle of abuse: Without intervention, domestic abuse can perpetuate across generations. Children who grow up in abusive households may be more likely to become victims or perpetrators of domestic abuse as adults.

Health complications: The stress and trauma associated with domestic abuse can contribute to various physical health issues, including chronic pain, sleep disorders, substance abuse, and increased vulnerability to illnesses.

Ask for help!!!

National Domestic Abuse Helpline: Run by Refuge, this helpline offers free confidential support and advice 24/7. You can reach them at 0808 2000 247

Women’s Aid: Women’s Aid is a national organization that provides support and resources for women experiencing domestic abuse. They have a network of local services across the UK.

Men’s Advice Line: This helpline offers support and advice specifically for male victims of domestic abuse. You can reach them at 0808 801 0327

LGBTQ+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: This helpline provides support for members of the LGBTQ+ community experiencing domestic abuse. You can contact them at 0800 999 5428

Local support services: Each region in the UK has local domestic abuse support services that provide counseling, refuge accommodation, and practical assistance. These services can be found through local councils, the police, or organizations like Women’s Aid.

Police: If you are in immediate danger or require emergency assistance, call 999. The police can help ensure your safety and connect you with further support.

Housing support: Local authorities offer housing support for individuals fleeing domestic abuse, including emergency accommodation and longer-term housing options.

Remember, if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, always prioritize safety and contact the emergency services. The mentioned helplines and organizations can provide further guidance, support, and information on available resources in the UK.


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