Domestic abuse is defined by the Home Office as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.”
Every year an estimated two million people experience domestic abuse in the UK and victims are more likely to be women than men. Men and women experience domestic abuse differently due to the gendered nature of the crime. Therefore it is important wherever possible to signpost specifically for female, male or transgender support services.
One in five children in the UK experience domestic abuse and it is we estimated that at least one child in every reception school class has been living with abuse for their whole life. Understanding the full range of experiences within the household is vital to supporting children affected by Domestic Abuse. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as being exposed to domestic abuse or substance misuse in the home, have been found to have an impact on long term health and behavioural outcomes, and a combination of ACEs can increase this risk even further. In a study by Public Health Wales those with four or more ACEs were 14 times more likely to have been a victim of violence over the last 12 months, compared to those with no ACEs.
Supporting children living with domestic violence
One in five children in the UK experience domestic abuse and for them life outcomes are typically poorer. Children who witness violence and/or are victims of abuse are likely to be anxious, fearful and depressed. They may show bursts of aggression, appear unnaturally quiet or be insecurely attached to their primary caregiver. Children who experience violence may have poor sleep patterns and delayed language skills. These factors impact on all aspects of children’s development ultimately affecting their long term educational attainment. Whilst working with children and families you can consider how you build respectful, empathetic and honest relationships with parents and children, which enables victims to disclose abuse and seek support.
Promoting equality of opportunity in boys and girls play; challenging stereotypical attitudes and behaviours
All children develop a sense of who they are from other people and the wider world. Children and their families are continually exposed to gender bias through the media and advertising. By promoting gender equity you can challenge stereotypes you may see in children’s play. From early on girls and boys should learn to see themselves as equals. This includes developing good self-esteem and self-efficacy, respect for each other and effective conflict resolution strategies. Having good male and female adult role models who show respect and concern for each other and children is essential. Practitioners can help children by being a safe, consistent and responsive adult.
Further resources and information
Bristol Against Violence and Abuse – offers information about different types of violence and abuse and support services that can help. BAVA provides resources and training for professionals. www.BAVA.org.uk
Next Link – Bristol based domestic abuse service provider www.nextlinkhousing.co.uk
Tel: 0117 925 0680
National Domestic Abuse Phone line – 24-hour free phone
Helpline: Tel: 0808 2000 247
Support for LGBT: https://www.galop.org.uk/
Helpline number 0300 9995428 or