Effects of domestic abuse on children

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Children are often described as the 'forgotten victims' of domestic abuse. They are affected not only by directly witnessing abuse, but also by living in an environment where someone, usually their mother, is being repeatedly victimised.

Children in a home where the mother is being abused are also at greater risk of being abused themselves.

Children can witness violence in the home in a number of different ways. They may see or hear the abuse or even be involved in the violence (e.g. a child may be in his mother's arms when she is assaulted).  They will also experience the aftermath and sense the tension in the build-up to the abuse.

Even when the parents believe the children were unaware of what was happening, the children can often give detailed accounts of the events.

As well as the physical violence often found in abusive relationships, the children will almost certainly be subjected to frequent emotional abuse of the mother in the form of name-calling, accusations and threats made by the abuser in their presence.

Consequently, on all occasions when children are present during domestic abuse incidents or ordinarily reside in the household where the abuse is taking place, the police attending the incident will have concern for the welfare of the children.  This means that information regarding the incident will be shared with the local social work services and the Children’s Reporter.  

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