Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence or abuse?

Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, within the home or in a personal relationship.  Unfortunately, it is common.  In the majority of cases, but not all, it is experienced by women and perpetrated by men.  Examples include harassment and stalking, psychological abuse, intimidation, physical abuse, or threats.

What is the impact on children and young people living in the home?

Prolonged or regular exposure to domestic violence or abuse within the family can have a serious impact on all areas of a child’s development and emotional well-being, despite any attempt by the victim parent to protect the child.  Whilst a child may not be physically harmed, the exposure constitutes as emotional abuse and is one of the highest causes of children and young people becoming subject to a Child Protection Plan.  It is impossible to prevent children witnessing domestic violence. They may see or hear the abusive episode, be used or even involved in the violence , being caught in any cross-fire, will 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.

Why might a victim continue a relationship with the abuser?

Research demonstrates that women in violence relationships can find it difficult to leave the abuser.  Reasons why a woman may not be ready or feel able to leave include:

  • She may still care for her partner and hope that they will change (many women don’t necessarily want to leave the relationship, they just want the violence to stop).
  • She may feel ashamed about what has happened or believe that it is her fault.
  • She may be scared of the future (where she will go, what she will do for money, whether she will have to hide forever and what will happen to the children).
  • She may worry about money, and supporting herself and her children.
  • She may feel too exhausted or unsure to make any decisions.
  • She may be isolated from family or friends or be prevented from leaving the home or reaching out for help.
  • She may not know where to go.
  • She may have low self-esteem as a result of the abuse.
  • She may believe that it is better to stay for the sake of the children (eg wanting a father for her children and/or wishing to prevent the stigma associated with being a single parent).