Children and Domestic ViolenceDomestic Violence
Children are often not taken account of when looking at support for those experiencing Domestic Violence. The reality is that children are most times aware that there is violence in their home and feel powerless to stand up to it. It is important to try and explain to them what is happening as they can sense the atmosphere even if they are not present for the incidents of violence and abuse.
Parents often think children do not know about the domestic violence but what we know from experience and research is that children, even if not telling their parents, are generally aware of the violence and sometimes hear it when the parents think they can’t. Parents sometimes need to tell themselves that the children don’t know because otherwise they find it too hard to think about what it may mean for their children if they do know.
Children will have a range of emotions/reactions and again it is important to encourage expression of these and be interested in what and why they are feeling like this. Children need to be assured that it the adults responsibility to protect them and not the other way around. Some of the effects of domestic violence on children include – bed wetting, nightmares, asthma, headaches, feeding difficulties, sadness, bullying, challenging behaviours, self harm, shyness, speech problems, anxiety and depression.
Many people will say that the other parent (the one using violence) is a “good parent” to those children. If children are witnessing or experiencing Domestic Violence in the home then this is not a sign of good or caring parenting. Each parent has a responsibility to practice respect of the other and model this behaviour for their children.
Showing attention or affection to children cannot make up for denying them (through the use of violence) their right to a safe and happy childhood. Think about the impact that it might have on your children and how they may conduct their own relationships as a young person or an adult.
For many children, the first step in managing their situation is merely having someone who recognises that they are involved and allows them to tell their story. Children’s needs after exposure to Domestic Violence should be addressed as the trauma does not just fix itself.