Children can experience Domestic Violence in different ways:
- They can get be harmed directly or may get caught between a fight or by trying to protect the victim of abuse (like their mother, sibling or pet);
- They can be used to manipulate one partner against the other. Children may be used to threaten the victim so that they can’t leave and submit to further abuse (e.g. the abuser may threated to harm the children or report the mother to authorities). This can happen while still living together and after separation.
- Children may directly observe violence or become aware of it indirectly e.g. they may be in another room or be woken and hear part of the violence; they may see the bruising and distress of their mothers; or discover the broken and damaged property when they return from school.
- Children and young people also live with the effects of violence on the health and parenting capacity of their mothers. For example, Domestic Violence has been associated with increased risk for women developing substance abuse problems
Children will often feel like the violence is their fault.
Especially where extreme violence has been an issue, and they are used to manipulate the partner. They might feel like their parents are fighting because they are not doing well at school or because of their own behaviour. Domestic Violence often leaves the child with a feeling of confusion and that they have to choose sides. This is difficult when they feel close to both parents.
Living in an environment with Domestic Violence is a form of child abuse.
Children do not have a happy home in which they can feel secure and loved. Even when their non-abusive parent wants to provide them with security and strong boundaries, this is quickly taken down by the abusive partner.