Domestic abuse and children

All children are impacted when they live in a home where there is domestic abuse and violence. The impact will vary from child to child and will be dependent on the extent of the abuse, the length of time it goes on and the age of the child. The younger the child when the abuse starts the longer lasting the impact.

People often say that the children were in bed or not in the house and therefore they do not know any abuse has happened.

Even if they are asleep or away they will see the aftereffects, feel the tension and instinctively know that something has happened. It is frightening, confusing and upsetting for them. Some will learn that abusive behaviour is normal and then go on to be abusive themselves or be in an abusive relationship.

There is a strong link between growing up in a home where there is abuse and substance misuse, mental health and poor life chances in teenage and adulthood.

Effects on children

  • Fear, low self-esteem, anger, distrust and anxiety
  • Bedwetting, nightmares and sleep deprivation
  • Being bullied or becoming bullies
  • Being physically hurt
  • Feels isolated and withdraws
  • Self harms, misusing drugs and alcohol
  • Emotionally torn between their parents
  • Does poorly at school, cannot concentrate or is disruptive
  • Depression and eating disorders

If this is happening to you

Remember you are not alone and it is not your fault. Many families live with domestic abuse and you can get help and support. Speak to someone you trust, like a family member or a teacher.

It is important to keep yourself safe if an argument starts; find a safe place to go or call someone you trust or the Police.

If your girlfriend or boyfriend is being abusive to you then speak to someone; it is not normal or acceptable in a relationship and everyone has the right to be happy and live without abuse.

A range of support is available to children and their parents, this includes one-to-one or group work support.

The support is tailored to the child’s needs and may include advocacy, themed activity sessions and play work. Programmes such as “You and Me, Mum” and “Monkey bob” are used.

Get in touch

If you are concerned for yourself or someone else, our local, confidential helpline will advise anyone seeking help with domestic abuse. This includes relatives, friends and work colleagues as well as those who are causing harm.

Speak to us on 0800 69 49 999. Our phone line is available 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.


In an emergency, you should always dial 999. If you are worried that an abuser may overhear your call you can remain silent, tap the phone and dial 55 when prompted by the operator who will send help.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired you can register with You will then be able to send a text to 999 if you require help in an emergency.

Last reviewed: September 26, 2023 by Jennifer

Next review due: March 26, 2024

Back to top