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 for 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 after effects, 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
  • Bed wetting, nightmares and sleep deprivation
  • Being bullied or becoming bullies
  • Being physically hurt
  • Feels isolated and withdraws
  • Self harms, misuses drugs and alcohol
  • Emotionally torn between their parents
  • Does poorly at school, cannot concentrate or is disruptive
  • Depression and eating disorders

If you're a child and this is happening in your family or 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.

For information on support available here in Somerset

Please contact the Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service on 0800 69 49 999 or email

If you are concerned about the risk of domestic abuse to a child, refer to the how to make a referral page.

Legally, children from 16 years are considered a victims of domestic abuse in their own right. Somerset’s Integrated Domestic Abuse service provides a service specifically to help younger victims of domestic abuse in addition to the adult service.

If the child is younger than 13, this falls under child protection, please refer to the Effective support for families document

Concerned about whether domestic abuse is affecting a child?

Take a look at the Domestic Violence Risk Indicator Matrix (DVRIM) for advice.

Hide this website