Childhood Experiences of Domestic Violence

Childhood Experiences of Domestic Violence

Childhood Experiences of Domestic Violence

Childhood Experiences of Domestic Violence


"Based on the first-hand accounts of children and their mothers regarding their experiences of both domestic violence and support services, this is the first book to examine children's experiences of a range of service provision in response to domestic violence. It seeks to encourage a more effective and professional approach in the services that aim to support and protect children, highlighting both the strengths and the shortcomings of existing professional interventions and illustrating the range of problems that children face when they are living with domestic violence. The book assesses the role and response of the social services, police, refuge staff, solicitors and barristers, voluntary organisations and the agencies of health, education and housing. It describes approaches to existing problems, emphasising the importance of a child-focused response and concludes by recommending improvements for policy and practice." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


This book is essential reading for anyone who needs to understand the effects of domestic violence on children – particularly those who are responsible for providing or funding services for children who have experienced domestic violence.

Instead of focusing on incidents of physical abuse (the standard approach taken by many professionals), this research looks at domestic violence in the context of everyday living. What emerges is a picture of abusive men seeking to control every aspect of the lives of women and children by using not only physical or sexual violence but also constant intimidation, humiliation and other forms of emotional or psychological abuse.

It would be comforting to think that many children are not affected by domestic violence because they are too young to notice or understand what is happening. However, the statements by children involved in this research show that they are very aware of the violence and not fooled by their mothers' attempts to conceal this. One child remembers seeing Daddy hurting Mummy, even though her parentsseparated when she was aged 1.

The children also make it clear that they feel very strongly about the violence that they have heard, witnessed or experienced personally. They struggle to express intense feelings of fear, sadness, anger, shame, guilt, confusion and despair – feelings which inevitably affect their self-esteem, their behaviour, their education, their health, their ability to make friends and their relationship with their mother.

Recognising their own powerlessness to deal with domestic violence, children look to adults to 'sort it out'. How we respond sends a clear message about our society's determination or inability to tackle this issue. If helping agencies provide emotional support and practical help, they are 'brilliant'. Conversely, if the abuser manages to escape prosecution, children cannot understand how he 'got away with it' and this reinforces their belief that 'he's invincible' and 'nobody can do anything about him'.

However, the major question posed by this research – and it is an important one – is how we as a society can help children to deal with the huge emotional burden inflicted by their experiences of domestic violence. These children want to talk!

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