Children affected by domestic abuse

I want to help a child or young person

The physical, psychological and emotional effects of domestic violence on children can vary according to their age and gender or the frequency and type of violence they're witnessing but very often the effects can be severe and long-lasting.

What are the signs

Some signs that are commonly seen with children experiencing and witnessing domestic abuse include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and flashbacks of violent incidents.
  • Easily startled.
  • Complaining of physical symptoms such as tummy aches.
  • Wetting their bed.
  • Temper tantrums, aggression, anger or confusion.
  • Suffering from depression, stress or anxiety.
  • Attachment or protectiveness towards the non-abusing parent.
  • Poor self-esteem, shyness or withdrawal from contact with people.
  • Behaving as though they're much younger than they are.
  • Difficulties at schools with learning and behaviour, rebellion against authority figures.
  • Playing truant or using alcohol or drugs.
  • Self-harming, for example taking overdoses, cutting themselves, under-eating.
  • Forming inappropriate relationships or friendships.
  • Finding it difficult to communicate or express their feelings.
  • Resenting the non-abusing parent for putting up with the abuse or not standing up for themselves.

How can I help

If you're concerned that a child or young person is experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse, there's a lot you can do to help.

Try talking to them as this can help them to address the negative effects of the experience.

Remember not to pressure them or threaten them. Make time for them to come to you if they want to.

Report the abuse

If you're concerned about a child or young person’s safety, you can contact the Complex Early Help and Safeguarding Hub, Monday-Friday from 8.45am-4.45pm on 0300 303 0440 or email Outside these hours, call 0300 303 8875.

If you're a professional with concerns about a child's mental health and wellbeing, please ring our Single Point of Access on 0161 856 4424 to discuss their needs and the options available.