What is domestic
The term ‘domestic violence’ or domestic abuse
is used to describe any incident of threatening behaviour, violence
or abuse between adults, who is/has been a family member or living
at family home. These may be psychological, physical (including
throwing objects), sexual, emotional (includes verbal threats,
controlling behaviour) or financial.
Nowadays, abuse can also happen on mobile
phones, on the internet and social networking sites.
How are children involved?
In relationships where there is domestic violence, children
witness about three-quarters of the abusive incidents. About half
the children in such families have themselves been badly hit or
beaten. Sexual and emotional abuse are also more likely to happen
in these families.
Who are the abusers and victims?
Although a man abusing a woman is recognised
more often, the adults may be of either gender or any sexuality. It
can happen in any class, religion, race, occupation or age.
It is common thinking that alcohol and mental
illness can cause person to be violent. Alcohol does not cause
domestic violence, but there is evidence that where domestic
violence exists, alcohol is often present. Most people who are
mentally ill are not violent.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence.
Children, even pets can be affected. People with mental illness are
more likely to be victims of violence.
Obviously, it is very upsetting for children
to see one of their parents (or partners) abusing or attacking the
other. They often show signs of great distress.
Younger children may become anxious. They can
complain of tummy-aches or start to wet their bed. They may find it
difficult to sleep, have temper tantrums and start to behave as if
they are much younger than they are.
Older children react differently. Boys seem to
express their distress much more outwardly. They may become
aggressive and disobedient. Sometimes, they start to use violence
like bullying to try and solve problems, and may copy the behaviour
they see within the family. Older boys may play truant and start to
use alcohol or drugs.
Girls are more likely to keep their distress
inside. They may become withdrawn from other people, and become
anxious or depressed. They may think badly of themselves and
complain of vague physical symptoms. They are more likely to have
an eating disorder, or to harm themselves by taking overdoses or
Children with these problems often do badly at
school. They may refuse to go to school. They may also get symptoms
of post-traumatic stress disorder for example, and have nightmares
and flashbacks, and be easily startled.