How children may be affected, and what you can do

Impact of Domestic Abuse on a child

Children who live with parental domestic abuse, commonly become witness to abuse (often children are more aware than the parents think). 1,000 children every year in Southampton live with a parent who is at highest risk of physical harm or death from domestic abuse. There may also be major overlap between domestic abuse and the direct harm of children, for example, through neglect or physical or emotional abuse. 

The impact of domestic violence & abuse on children can be lasting (after the abuse ends) and although each child is unique, common symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, behavioural problems, attachment issues and regressions in development such as toileting, speech and language, keeping attention. Exposure to domestic abuse can lead to intergenerational abuse and unhealthy relationships in adulthood. Childhood experience of domestic abuse is recognised as a significant ‘adverse childhood expereince’ that combined with other factors such as parental mental ill-health can affect their life chances and outcomes.

See NSPCC for more details on impacts and how to recognise signs of a child living with domestic abuse.

Impact of Sexual Abuse on a child

Sexual abuse can be devastating  and can have a profound affect on victims at any age. In the year ending March 2019, police in England and Wales recorded 73,260 sexual offences against children. Sexual abuse has both short and long-term impacts. It can affect every aspect of a victims life, such as:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide
  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Relationship problems

The experience of sexual abuse by a child will deeply affect the whole family

See NSPCC for advice & information about children & abuse, including sexual abuse.