We want to increase understanding of domestic abuse as an Adverse Childhood Experience and enable those working with families to understand the traumatic impact it can have on the lives of children and young people. We want to see a collective strategic response to meet their needs at individual, community, organisation and government levels. We believe it is time to see, hear and act for all children who are living with domestic abuse.
Children and young people have varying levels of resilience and all agencies that come into contact with children and young people who experience domestic abuse have a responsibility to build upon this resilience. We believe that with support, which is trauma informed and tailored to need, children and young people can recover from many of the negative impacts of domestic abuse and can make positive choices in their lives. Support comes in many forms and can be provided by a range of professionals and agencies including, teachers, youth workers, social workers, police etc.
Women’s Aid provides tailored training for professionals and agencies to increase their understanding of children and young people’s experience of domestic abuse and to help them consider how they can best support families who use their services.
Help for children and young people
Our 40 years’ experience has highlighted the importance of providing children and young people with safe spaces to express their feelings and talk about their experiences …when they are ready to do so.
Here are some tips for supporting children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse:
If a child discloses domestic abuse, it is vital that you respond in a way which is supportive and proactive. Find safe and confidential ways of asking children about their feelings and experiences.
Listen and believe
Listen to what they are saying and above all believe them.
Some things to say to children and young people:
- It’s not your fault
- You can always tell me how you feel
- I will listen to you
- You have the right to feel safe
- You are important to me
- We can think of ways to help you feel safe in the future
Explore options for keeping safe and help them to develop a safety plan.
Inform yourself and them
Find out and know what help is available for them, and their mothers.
Women’s Aid is is here to help. Contact your local group.
If you have child protection concerns, refer to the gateway team of your local Health and Social Care Trust or NSPCC.
In an emergency you can call 999
Children and young people can call Childline on 0800 1111 anytime.
Remember, children and young people can and do recover from the negative impact of domestic abuse provided the adequate support and reassurance is in place.
If you need information or support around domestic abuse, you can contact the Freephone 24hr Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline, managed by Nexus NI on 0808 802 1414