National Safeguarding Unit (NSU) - Safe Activities For Everyone

Helping protect children and young people from violent behaviours 

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Your child is number one 

All children should be kept safe, they shouldn't be made to witness or become a victim of violence in their own home.
Knowing where to get advice, help and support is key.

What is domestic violence/abuse?

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse is defined as abusive behaviours by one or both partners in a relationship such as marriage, dating, family and friends.

A huge trait of domestic violence is that behaviour used is intended to show power and control of a relationship, with most forms of violence/abuse aiming to gain authority over the victim. This may consist of any of the following behaviours:
Physical violence - can involve hitting, shoving, shaking, restraining, choking, punching or using a weapon to inflict harm.
Sexual abuse - non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, sexual assault or refusing safe sex
Emotional/psychological abuse - intimidation, social isolation, verbal abuse, humiliation, constant criticism, enforced trivial routines.
Verbal abuse - is a form of abusive behavior involving the use of language.
Economic/financial abuse -  is when the abuser has control over the victim's money and other economic resources.Could be stealing, depriving or taking control of money and running up debts.
Restricting a persons behaviour - controlling who you can see, where you go, what clothing you wear, forcing you to do something you don't want to.

Who can experience domestic abuse?

Historically the majority of domestic violence involves males inflicting abuse on their female partners, but domestic abuse can happen in any relationship, such as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships. It may also involve the female in the relationship abusing the male and it can occur when a grown up child or teenager abuses their parents or carers.

Domestic violence is usually a pattern of abuse which is within a current or previous intimate relationship or family relationship. Nine times out of ten the violence would never be a one off, the behaviours tend to increase and become more severe over time and may happen in new relationships or ones that may have ended some time ago.

There are many ways that domestic can start:

  • The imbalance of power between the sexes
  • The abusers need for power and control in the relationship
  • Alcohol, drugs, unemployement, stress or ill health
  • Jealousy, low self esteem, fear of abandonment

and many other ways depending on the relationship

People can experience domestic abuse regardless of their social inclusion, these may be:

  • Class
  • Age
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Lifestyle

And many others.

Young girls talkingExposing children and young people to domestic violence

In households where domestic abuse may happen, children are at a high risk of suffering violent behaviours.
The emotional effects of children witnessing domestic violence can be a compared to the psychological damage to those who have suffered of child abuse directly or indirectly. Some of following things may happen to children in homes with domestic violence:

  • The child may be hurt while trying to protect their mother, father or sibling 
  • domestic abuse could occur when  children might indirectly receive an injury, this might happen when items are thrown or weapons used
  • Develop difficulties at school, absences and lack of concentration
  • Take responsiliblity for the abuse that is happening
  • Develop low self-esteem
  • Become socially isolated
  • Suffer physical complaints, eating and sleeping difficulties
  • Older children may try alcohol or drugs and may drop out of school

The issue of children living with domestic violence is now recognised as a matter of concern by both government and key children’s services agencies.

How to make it stop

If someone is behaving violently there are usually underlying problems for the person, these may need to be resolved with the help of a professional. You could perhaps try to talk to the person on behalf of a child, if you feel it is safe to and let them know how much their behaviour upsets the child . They may not be aware of how much it upsets them or even realise that you know the violence is taking place.

Try and talk about what is happening, this may make it stop.
If you are unable to speak your parents, approaching anothor responsible adult for advice and guidance can resassure you.(teacher, group leader, doctor)

Other people children and young people can talk to
The Hideout


For immediate emergency help you should call 999 for the police or an ambulance.

Young boy smiling in a red t-shirtFurther help

There are many experienced organisations who care and can help with domestic violence, please find details below:

National Domestic Violence Helpline
0808 2000 247
To talk to someone in confidence for support, information or an emergency referral to temporary accommodation, contact the free 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline.

Women’s Aid
0808 2000 247
Women's Aid is the national domestic violence charity that helps up to 250,000 women and children every year. work to end violence against women and children, and support over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the country.

08457 90 90 90
Confidential support 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing distress or despair, and feelings that could lead to suicide.

Broken Rainbow
08452 60 44 60
Telephone helpline for lesbians, gay men and bisexual or transgendered people experiencing domestic violence. The helpline is operated by workers from these communities and ensures caller privacy.

Refuge is a national charity that provides emergency accommodation and support for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Some of the refuges are for women of specific cultural backgrounds.

Victim support
0845 30 30 900
Victim Support is a national charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales and offers a free and confidential service, irrespective of whether or not a crime has been reported.

Help for children and young people suffering or witnessing domestic violence

Family Lives
0808 800 2222
Family Lives is a national charity providing help and support to anyone caring for children, for families living together as well as apart. It runs a freephone helpline and has a community of parents supporting each other through forums and blogs.

Barnardo's helps children, young people and their families over the long term to overcome the most severe problems like abuse, homelessness and poverty. Use the website to find an office near to you.

Young Minds
0808 802 5544
YoungMinds is a national charity committed to improving the mental health of children and young people. It provides a free telephone helpline offering information and advice to any adult with concerns about the mental health of a child or young person.    

Next steps 

Young girl on rope swing Sexual abuse
Find out about the impact that sexual abuse has on children.

Create a safer environment - help the prevention of bullying.

More from the web

The Department for Education

A charity which supports women's organisations to be more effective and sustainable.
Womens Resource Centre

Provides practical advice, support and guidance to out-of-school clubs, individuals and organisations working in the childcare sector.

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