Domestic Abuse


Domestic violence takes place within the context of an intimate relationship, for example a marriage, and is a pattern of controlling and aggressive behavior  from one towards the other. The abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological or emotional though financial control and social isolation are also common features. The abuse can be actual or threatened and can happen once every so often or on a regular basis. It is a common misconception that only men are the perpetrators of domestic violence but women can also be abusers.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

Children will react to domestic violence in different ways depending on the level of violence they have witnessed, the length of time they are exposed to it and the support they receive.

Every child will be effected by domestic abuse in the home, even babies. Do not think they are unaware or that you can hide it from them, children are very sensitive to emotion and will pick up on the atmosphere. They are likely to feel confused, angry, frightened, or as if they are to blame.

Children who live in a home where domestic violence takes place may exhibit the following behaviors:

Under 2s may:

· be easily frightened and/or nervous

· be frightened of your partner and possibly of men in general

· be very demanding

· cry a lot

· have broken sleep or nightmares

· be very clingy towards you and not cope well with being separated

· be very clingy towards your partner

· have an unusual amount of temper tantrums

· not eat well and be underweight

· have slow speech development and / or coordination skills

· be slow to learn to crawl and / or walk

· stop doing things they have already learnt and return to more babyish behavior (eg stopping walking)

· be aggressive towards you and / or other children

2 – 5 year olds may:

· be easily frightened and / or nervous.

· be frightened of your partner and possibly of men in general

· be very clingy towards you and / or your partner and not cope well with being separated

· have an unusual amount of temper tantrums

· cry a lot

· not show much emotion (either happy or sad) and may seem detached

· be aggressive towards you and / or other children

· try to stop the violence and may feel guilty when they can’t succeed in this

· try to hurt themselves

· have slow development or regress (eg wet themselves or the bed after being toilet trained)

5 – 11 year olds may:

· be easily frightened, nervous or worried

· be very demanding

· actively try to stop the violence (possibly getting hurt in the process)

· behave well at home but be very aggressive and / or rude to others at school

· bully other children at school and / or brothers and sisters

· not like themselves as they think that the violence is their fault

· be angry with your partner

· be angry with you and may blame you for the violence. Sometimes it feels safer for children to express their anger towards the non-violent parent than the violent parent.

· may try to please your violent partner and / or copy some of their behavior

· do badly or very well at school. Some children find it difficult to concentrate on school work because they’re worrying about what’s happening at home. Others try to block out their home life by only focusing on their school work. Many people wrongly assume that children doing very well at school have not been affected.

· constantly complain of feeling ill to avoid going to school when the doctor can’t find anything wrong (child may be worried about what will happen to mum while they’re at school).

· find it difficult to make friends at school (sometimes because the child feels too ‘different’ from others and can’t relate to them and sometimes because they miss out on having friends come home due to their fear of what might happen there).

· take on responsibilities inappropriate to their age (eg childcare or household tasks).

· be depressed

11 – 17 year olds may

· be very demanding

· fight a lot with friends and / or brothers and sisters

· not get on well at school or do unusually well by focusing exclusively on school work instead of on social or family life

· be depressed and/or anxious and / or fearful

· be confused about the roles of men and women (boys may be afraid of growing up for fear of becoming like their dads)

· run away from home

· behave very badly at school in the hope of getting the attention of the school

· try to protect their mum from the violence and may be hurt in this process. be abusive towards their mum (copying dad’s behavior)

· turn to drugs or alcohol to try to escape from reality

If you are in a violent or abusive relationship, you are likely to feel exhausted, afraid, confused, trapped, to blame…when you feel powerless, your abuser is powerful and has convinced you that there is no way out. If s/he can hurt you, if s/he cannot control his/her temper around you, s/he could most certainly loose their temper with your children, which is at best terribly damaging, and at worst – deadly.

There is always a way out. We cannot stress enough that if your partner is abusive, he or she is highly unlikely to change without serious effort and psychological help, and even then, change is not certain or easy.

YOU MUST GET OUT. No-one ever deserves to be threatened or intimidated in any way, especially in their own harm by someone who is supposed to love and protect them. It is wrong (you may be so used to it that you do not realise how wrong it is). You deserve to be treated with love, gentleness and tenderness. No one should ever live their lives in fear. Reach out to your family, friends, charities, womens refuges. There are people out there who can and will help you if you ask for it.

Where To Get Help

If you are in immediate danger, call the police as soon as you safely can, on 999/911. If you can do so, take yourself and your children to a safe place until the police arrive. If you cannot do this, try to keep your children out of the way and quietly occupied, in a room upstairs or similar, away from the abuser if you can, until help arrives.


UK – 0808 2000 247 

Are you experiencing domestic violence?
Do you know of someone who is experiencing abuse and may need help and support?

The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

USA: 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224

The National Domestic Violence Hotline receives more than 23,500 calls per month from victims, survivors, friends and family members, law enforcement personnel, domestic violence advocates and the general public. Hotline advocates provide support and assistance to anyone involved in a domestic violence situation, including those in same-sex relationships, male survivors, those with disabilities and immigrant victims of domestic violence. All calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline are anonymous and confidential.

  • Crisis intervention, safety planning, information about domestic violence and referrals to local service providers
  • Direct connection to domestic violence resources available in the caller’s area provided by a Hotline advocate
  • Assistance in both English and Spanish with Hotline advocates having access to more than 170 different languages through interpreter services
  • Assistance through e-mail on the contact page
  • Informational materials on such topics as domestic violence, sexual assault, battering intervention and prevention programs, working through the criminal justice system and related issues

Domestic Violence Charities/Further Information

UKA to Z of Help contacts concerning domestic issues. These selected topic areas contain a range of information about domestic and sexual violence, including guides, latest news, reports, useful links etc., including links for male victims.

UK Refuge – Information, help and support relating to domestic violence.

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