Seeing Domestic Abuse Through the Eyes of the Child
By Jen Milsom, Temporary Detective Inspector - Domestic Abuse Whole System Approach
Less than a week now until we can open the first door of the Advent calendar and see what lies beyond, a Christmas scene, chocolate or a small toy? How excited were you as a child as it drew nearer to Santa’s visit, being bribed into to being good every day just in case!
It is not like that for every child. For some the monsters under the bed are real – it’s their parents fighting.
Domestic Abuse is one of the most common Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), the others being physical and sexual abuse, exposure to drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.
When attending an incident of domestic abuse to a household where children are present or normally live, Cleveland Police officers are looking “what life is like through the eyes of the child”. We know that many domestic incidents go unreported, so when we do get the call, the children have probably witnessed a lot more than we know about.
They are often the hidden victims of domestic abuse, left to one side whilst we deal with the parents.
Research shows that 48% of children in England have suffered at least one ACE with 9% suffering more than 4 ACEs. This goes on to give them a higher chance of suffering mental health problems, drug or alcohol related problems, serious medical conditions and also being a victim or perpetrator to abuse themselves.
So what can we do? We need to build stronger children rather than mend broken adults.
Sometimes parents just need to understand the effect their behaviour has on their children.
Support is available: we can refer adults to support agencies for domestic abuse, behaviour change, parenting support, drug and alcohol support. This can be done by offering to make referrals on victim’s behalf or by letting them know of the support agencies available for when they are ready to make that decision to access help.
We can promote the use of domestic abuse support apps – Bright Sky and Hollie Guard.
Operation Encompass alerts schools of the domestic abuse in a child’s home life so they can give more appropriate support to the child at school.
By working together with schools, social care and other early intervention routes we can prevent the domestic abuse of the future.
For more details on ACEs and their effect visit
Bright Sky and Hollie Guard
Posted on Tuesday 27th November 2018