Supporting Your Child - Domestic Violence
If your child has witnessed or experienced domestic violence, here is our advice and information on places you can get help.
How can I help my child?
All children witnessing domestic violence are experiencing emotional abuse.
Children will react in different ways to being brought up in a home where there is violence. Age, sex, culture, stage of development, and individual personality will all have an effect on a child's responses. Most children, however, will be affected in some way by tension or by witnessing arguments, distressing behaviour or assaults - even if they do not always show this. They may feel they are to blame, may feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless, or confused. They may have mixed feelings, both towards the abuser, and towards the non-abusing parent.
Violence can interfere with your children's lives in other ways. They may feel unable to invite friends round (or may be prevented from doing so) out of shame, fear, or concern about what their friends may see. They may feel guilty, and think the violence is their fault, or that they ought to be able to stop it in some way. There can be an impact on school attendance and achievement: some children will stay home in an attempt to protect their parent, or because they are frightened what may happen if they go out. Worry, disturbed sleep and lack of concentration can all affect schoolwork. If you're worried about your child, there is help available.
These are things that may really make a difference:
- Seek help for yourself and your children. Their safety and yours are the number one priority.
- Report incidents of violence to the police and Children’s Services.
- Contact the NSPCC for help and support.
- Help your children to cope by enabling them to talk when they need – to you, a family member, a friend, teacher or counsellor
- Believe that you are never to blame for someone else's abuse. It is natural to worry that you have failed as a parent, or for asking for help, and that your children will be taken away from you if you report the violence.
- Talk to someone you trust about your experience of domestic abuse – a family member, a friend, your GP.
- Agree on code words when you talk if it helps you to feel safer.
- Seek advice from professionals about housing, finances and schooling if these are issues or problems.
The organisation Refuge offers this useful advice:
If you are being abused, it may help to remember this:
- You're not alone. One woman in four is abused during her lifetime.
- You don't have to deal with this on your own.
- The abuse is not your fault.
- You cannot change your partner.
- Domestic violence is against the law.
Where can I get help?
- Advice for families whose children are involved with, or need children’s services because of welfare needs or concerns
- Freephone helpline: 0808 801 0366 (Mon-Fri 09:30 – 15:00). Check your mobile network. Interpreters can be arranged.
- Textphone: Dial 18001 and then 0808 801 0366
- National charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.
- Freephone Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
- Email: [email protected]
- Offering a range of services that give women and children access to professional support whatever their situation – helpline, network of refuges, advocacy and child support.
- Freephone helpline: 0808 2000 247 (24hrs)
- Free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales.
- Support line: 0808 1689 111
- Email using the online contact form
- Barnardo’s provides a range of services to children, young people and families across the UK, address problems including domestic violence.