It can be difficult to tell if domestic abuse is happening and those carrying out the abuse can act very different when other people are around.
Children and young people might also feel frightened and confused, keeping the abuse to themselves.
Signs that a child has witnessed domestic abuse can include:
- Aggression or bullying
- Anti-social behaviour, like vandalism
- Anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts
- Attention seeking
- Bed-wetting, nightmares or insomnia,
- Constant or regular sickness, like colds, headaches and mouth ulcers
- Drug or alcohol use
- Eating disorders
- Problems in school or trouble learning
Living in a home where domestic abuse happens can have a serious impact on a child or young person’s mental and physical wellbeing, as well as their behaviour and this can last into adulthood.
Children are now recognised victims of domestic abuse
Being exposed to domestic abuse has serious consequences for children and young people, affecting how they feel, think and behave.
A campaign organised by the NSPCC and other children’s charities received backing from supporters around the UK which led to government agreeing to recognise children as victims. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 should mean that they can access the protection and support they need to recover.
If a child talks to you about domestic abuse it is important to:
- Listen carefully to what they’re saying
- Let them know they’ve done the right thing by telling you
- Say you’ll take them seriously
- Explain what you’ll do next
- Report what you have been told as soon as possible
Support available for children and young people
NSPCC Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) is a therapeutic service for mothers and children who have experienced domestic abuse. To find out more about their services for children, including how to get in touch with ones in your area, click here.
DART help children cope with the effects of domestic abuse. The service, recognised by the Home Office, also provides an opportunity to meet with and learn from others who have lived through similar experiences.
Childline also provide support for children who would like to speak with someone about domestic abuse. Whether it is happening now or has happened in the past, Childline can be contacted 24/7. Calls to 0800 1111 are free and confidential, children can also contact Childline online.