All forms of domestic violence and abuse – psychological, economic, emotional and physical – come from the abuser’s desire for power and control over other family members or intimate partners. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors involved. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and abuse and it happens in all communities to people from all backgrounds. The effects of domestic violence and abuse on survivors/victims include the direct effects on them and their relationships with other people, particularly their children.
How does it affect children?
- Domestic violence may teach children to use violence
- Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways
- Where there is domestic violence there is often child abuse
- Children will often blame themselves for domestic violence
- Alcohol misuse is very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families
- Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic violence
- Children, who witness, intervene or hear incidents are affected in many ways. What can be guaranteed is that children do hear, they do see and they are aware of abuse in the family. Children will learn how to behave from examples parents set for them. Domestic violence teaches children negative things about relationships and how to deal with people. For instance:
- It can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict
- They learn how to keep secrets.
- They learn to mistrust those close to them and that children are responsible and to blame for violence, especially if violence erupts after an argument about the children.
Many people find it difficult to understand why people remain in or return to abusive violent situations. A combination of fear, love, the risk of homelessness and financial issues can make it very difficult for partners with children to leave and some may not want to.
In September 2012, it was announced that the Government definition of domestic violence would be widened to include those aged 16-17 and wording changed to reflect coercive control. The decision follows a Government consultation which saw respondents call overwhelmingly for this change. The title of the definition will change to ‘domestic violence and abuse’ and is defined by Government as:
‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional.
‘Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.’