Escape Site

Children as victims

We know that for some people, home is not always a safe place. When you are a child, you may feel you have very little choice on where to live safely. Children are recognised as victims within the new Domestic Abuse Act and can receive support for themselves.

PARAGON has specialist children workers who can help. We know that witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse has an adverse impact on children. This impact can last up to and through adulthood, affecting their own adult relationships.

Below is some information that you may find helpful. It can be a hard read if you are parenting a child who is affected by domestic abuse. If you are a person causing harm, you need to understand the lasting impact of that harm.

ACEs and impact of domestic abuse

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) that cover a variety of issues that impact negatively on a child’s growth and development. Physical and sexual abuse, emotional upset, neglect, and household dysfunction are all ACE’s.  
  • ACE’s increase the risk of social and emotional difficulties, adopting high risk behaviours, and contracting diseases.
  • Children can experience short- or long-term difficulties as a result of witnessing domestic abuse, but each child will respond differently to that trauma event.
  • Children may respond by becoming anxious and depressed or may be aggressive and act out what they have seen. They may experience flashbacks or have difficulty sleeping. Children may not want to go to school, or become concerned and anxious when people are late or don’t show up. Some children regress and act much younger than their age and have a lower sense of self-worth. Older children may miss school, start to use substances or engage in harmful behaviours.

What we offer

At PARAGON, we have a specialist team in most areas who are trained and skilled to work with children and young people. They will meet with the non-abusing parent and the child to understand their experiences. We have a range of practical tools that can help and support a child to come to terms with their experiences. These include safety work, talking and listening, and doing work with the non-abusing parent/s to help that relationship.

We know it can be scary and upsetting to understand that your child may have been negatively impacted. We are here to help you both, and will work with you and your child. Please get in touch and we can talk through how we can help.

What can a person do to help a child?

The most important thing is to believe what they say, listen to them, and let them know they’ve done the right thing by telling you. You may reassure them it’s not their fault and then explain what you’ll do next. 

If you are living with domestic abuse yourself then it could be helpful to come up with a safety plan.  Meaning your child could go to a trusted friend, may go to their room, or may stay away overnight if you think that would help. What you do will be right for you and child, but remember you don’t have to be alone – we can help with safety planning.

The Hide Out created by Women’s Aid is a great resource for helping a young person to understand about their experiences.

Childline offers confidential calls on 0800 1111

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