Domestic abuse can have devastating long lasting impact on children and young people.

Children can experience domestic abuse in different ways.

  • They may be in the same room when abuse or violence is happening and see and hear the abuse, they may attempt to get involved to stop the abuse.
  • They may hear the abuse from their bedroom or another room.
  • They may have the violence and abuse directed towards them.
  • They may see the injuries caused as a result of the abuse.

Even if children do not witness or hear the abuse they still pick up the tension in the home, they can sense fear, unhappiness and aggression.

The effect of domestic abuse on children can be wide ranging these are just some examples:

  • being anxious and depressed,
  • have problems with sleep i.e. nightmares, bed wetting,
  • behaviour problems like becoming angry and aggressive.
  • being introverted and withdrawn,
  • problems at school,
  • truanting,
  • physical health problems like eating disorders,
  • self-harm
  • Use of drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.
  • Children may also feel guilty, powerless and confused.

‘62% of children living in domestic abuse households are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse, in addition to the harm caused by witnessing the abuse of others.’

Caada (2014), In Plain Sight: Effective help for children exposed to domestic abuse. Bristol: Caada

‘Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse. NSPCC’

‘Children witnessing domestic abuse is recognised as ‘significant harm’ in law.’