The United Nations General Assembly has designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As a charity working with families for over thirty years, we have a (sadly) large amount of experience with violence against women, specifically regarding domestic abuse.
Over the past year, 26% of all our safeguarding interventions (actions taken to prevent children from coming to harm) have been for domestic violence between parents, the majority of these concerning women experiencing abuse. Our increasing numbers have been reflected nationally, and we have found that rising family pressures contribute to a large volume of domestic violence cases. Both the housing crisis and increased cuts to benefits also mean women can be more reluctant to leave violent partners due to concerns about financial insecurity, which can result in increased incidences of abuse.
Some statistics on domestic violence and children*:
- 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse (Radford et al. NSPCC, 2011)
- In 90% of domestic violence incidents in family households, children were in the same or the next room (Hughes, 1992)
- 62% of children in households where domestic violence is happening are also directly harmed (SafeLives, 2015)
Living in a home where domestic violence occurs can have a huge impact on a child. In addition to the psychological impact, it can damage a child’s educational outcomes. They may be unwilling to attend school, as they don’t want to leave their mother alone, or they may struggle to focus in class.
Rushnara Khatun, SHS Practitioner, regularly supports children and families at her school who are living with domestic violence. She spoke to us about her recommendations when working with women experiencing violence:
- Build a safe space for them. It takes a lot of courage for someone to open up about domestic abuse in the home. Offer them a cup of tea and listen closely. Keep your body language open, maintain eye contact and reassure them it’s not their fault.
- Remember that every family is different. Their needs will be very different too, so be sure to get the full story before you look into practical support. Some people will want to look at things like marriage counselling first. For others, you will need to signpost them to women’s refuges and local domestic violence hubs. Some families will benefit from immediate substance or alcohol misuse support.
- Arrange support for the children. Children who come from homes with domestic abuse can be very timid, lonely and isolated at school. They may benefit from one-to-one support sessions, friendship groups and circle time. It’s important that they feel safe.
Watch the below video for more detail from Rushnara on her work with families experiencing violence.
You can also read a selection of our case studies featuring violence against women below: