Supporting your child with 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, 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 feel worried about asking for help, to feel worried that your children will be taken away from you if you report the violence, or even to have feelings that you have failed as a parent, but it is not your fault.
- 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:
- 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.
Supports women and children who are experiencing, or have experienced, violence or abuse.
You can call their helpline for support, information and advice - including help to access their emergency accommodation.
Online chat service available 3pm - 10pm, Monday - Friday.
You can send a message to the helpline using this online contact form (response time within 48 hours, or at a safe time chosen by you).
Phone: 0808 2000 247
Opening times: 24 hours a day, every day of the year
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
Phone: 0800 1111
Opening times: 9am - midnight, 365 days a year
Rape Crisis Centre
Supports girls and women who have experienced rape, sexual violence or sexual abuse at any time.
Online chat service available for women and girls aged 16 or over, open Monday-Friday (times on the website).
You can find your local crisis centre here.
Phone: 0808 802 9999
Opening times: 12 - 2.30pm and 7pm - 9.30pm, 365 days a year
Men's Advice Line
Provides support, information and advice for men experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
You can access their webchat service from the homepage (open 10am - 11am and 3pm - 4pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).
Phone: 0808 8010327
Email: [email protected]
Opening times: 9am - 8pm, Monday - Friday
Family Rights Group
Provides support, information and advice to parents whose children are involved with, or in need of, social services because of safety or welfare concerns - as well as parents and relatives of children in the care system.
Phone: 0808 801 0366
Opening times: 9.30am - 3pm, Monday - Friday
Offers support to anyone affected by crime; not only those who experience it directly, but also their friends, family and any other people involved.
Live webchat service available.
Offers specialist support for children and young people affected by crime through their website You & Co.
Phone: 08 08 16 89 111
Opening times: 24/7