Children and Domestic Abuse

How Children React to Domestic Abuse

Children respond to witnessing domestic abuse in different ways.  The Royal College of Psychiatrists has described some of the consequences for children exposed to violence and abuse:

  • They may become anxious or depressed
  • They may have difficulty sleeping
  • They have nightmares or flashbacks
  • They can be easily startled
  • They may complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches
  • They may start to wet their bed
  • They may have temper tantrums
  • They may behave as though they are much younger than they are
  • They may have problems with school
  • They may become aggressive or they may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people
  • They may have a lowered sense of self-worth
  • Older children may begin to play truant or start to use alcohol or drugs
  • They may begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves
  • They may have an eating disorder

Children may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless or confused. They may have ambivalent feelings towards both the abuser and the non-abusing parent.

If you are concerned about children and domestic abuse, about the impact on an individual child or children, whether your own or those of a friend or relative then get in touch with the BWA helpline.


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