Children who witness domestic abuse in the home often believe they are to blame. They may live in a constant state of fear. Experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse as a child may lead to developmental, behavioural, emotional and social intimacy issues.

Developmental

  • Failure to learn
  • Fatigue
  • ADD
  • Poor personal hygiene

Behavioural

  • Regression
  • Replicating intimidating behaviour
  • Violence, especially in bursts
  • Substance abuse

Emotional

  • Grief
  • Shame
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Poor self-confidence
  • Parent-child role reversal

What you can do

Early intervention is one of the best ways to counteract the effects of witnessing abuse. Taking action as soon as possible is the most important step. There are a number of ways to help children overcome the trauma.

  • Counselling from professionals at their school, GP’s and the local child services.
  • Understand that counselling may not work at first and you may need to experiment with various types: play therapy, peer support groups, anger management classes and safety programs to teach kids how to extract themselves from dangerous situations.
  • Spending time with a supporting adult to encourage the child to once again build trusting relationships is key to the child’s ongoing development.
  • Provide a safe environment that does not include violence in any form after a child has witnessed domestic violence.
  • Find consequence-based ways to discipline that do not involve hitting, name-calling, yelling or any form of verbally aggressive behavior.
  • Help children create a sense of safety by having scheduled routines, such as regular meals and homework times.

If you are worried about the effects that an abusive relationship in having on your child and you would like to access support and advice, you can check out our resources section for details of agencies that can help.  You can also give us a call on our confidential helpline 020 8317 8273.