Domestic violence can also be known as domestic abuse. It is when someone in the same family behaves in a way that hurts you or someone else in your family. This can involve physical abuse as well as emotional and mental abuse.
Often domestic abuse will happen between two people in a relationship, such as your parents or one of your parents and their partner. But domestic violence also includes any abuse towards you or your siblings.
Even if you are not the target of the abuse, it can still affect you. You might see or hear things that upset you. You should remember that it’s not your fault if this is happening. No one should have to experience domestic abuse in their home.
Domestic abuse can happen in many ways. It can involve physical violence, such as hitting, kicking and punching. It can also include sexual abuse, such as rape or forcing someone to do sexual activities they aren’t happy with.
Often the abuser will be very controlling. This might mean they don’t let the person they are abusing leave the house to go to work or school. It can also mean they have control of the family’s money and won’t share it with anyone else.
You might also experience emotional abuse. This is where you’re made to feel bad about yourself. The person might always put you down, stop you doing things you enjoy or stop you seeing your friends.
Making threats and intimidating other members of the family is also a type of domestic abuse. This might be threatening to hurt you or someone else in your family or threatening to withhold money or food.
Whatever kind of domestic violence is happening at home, it’s not ok. There are people who can support you and your family to help you get away from someone who is abusive. You don’t have to cope with domestic abuse alone.
Does domestic violence just happen to women?
No. Domestic violence can happen to men or women. Although more women are affected by domestic abuse that doesn’t mean a woman can’t abuse a man. No one should have to live with someone who is abusive towards them, but it can be difficult to leave.
If you aren’t sure if what is happening at home is domestic abuse you should talk to someone. Speak to an adult you trust, like a teacher, about what is going on. If you don’t want to speak to someone you know then there are helplines like Childline where you can get advice about what you are experiencing.
My mum is being abused at home. Who can I talk to?
You can also call Childline to get advice from counsellors. If you ring the helpline you can talk without worrying that your mum or dad will find out.
If you are worried about your own or your mum’s immediate safety you should call the police on 999. Tell them your address and explain what is going on. Don’t hang up the phone, leave it off the hook so they can hear what’s going on. Police officers will come to your home and talk to the adults, as well as to you. They’ll make sure you’re not hurt and might take the person who was being abusive away to protect you and your mum.
Why don’t we just leave home?
When you see someone you love being abused it can be hard to understand why they would stay at home. There can be many reasons that your mum might not want to leave. She might be scared about what your dad or step-dad will do. She may not know where to go. She may not have any money.
If the abuse has been happening for a long time, she may not have the strength to make the decision to leave. Domestic violence often involves mental abuse that makes it difficult for someone who is being abused to find the courage to leave.
If you feel scared at home because of what’s happening there, it’s important that you get help. If you can get some support you may be able to help your mum access the support she needs too.
If we leave home, where will we go?
If the abuse is so bad that you have to leave home with your mum it can be a scary time. Your mum might have a friend or family member you can stay with.
There are also places called refuges that are specifically for women and children from abusive homes. These are safe houses where you, your mum and your brothers or sisters can stay. You’ll have a room for your family and will normally share a kitchen and bathroom with the other families staying there. It’s very important that the addresses of these safe houses are kept a secret to keep everyone safe.
We sometimes have arguments at home. Is this domestic abuse?
Most families will have arguments from time to time. Sometimes when people are angry or upset they can say hurtful things that they don’t mean. After normal family arguments people will usually say sorry for anything nasty they said. They might also talk more calmly about what they argued over.
When it’s domestic abuse it will be different. It will happen all the time and may involve physical violence as well as hurtful words. The person being abusive will be controlling. This may make everyone else in the family scared to answer back.
I’ve experienced domestic abuse at home and I’m scared that means I’ll be abusive when I get older. What can I do?
Just because you have lived in a home where domestic violence happened does not mean that you will be abusive when you are older. Often people who have seen domestic abuse would never dream of doing the same to someone else because they have seen the pain it causes.
You should always remember that you are in control of how you behave and how you grow up. There is no reason why witnessing abuse should make you become abusive. If you are worried about how you are feeling you should talk to someone.
It can be hard to make sense of everything you’re feeling and that’s normal. You need to find ways of coping with any anger or frustration you have in a constructive way. Seeing a counsellor can help. You can talk to them about how you’re feeling and they can help you find ways of coping with your emotions.
Did you know?
-1 in 7 young people under the age of 18 will have lived with domestic violence at some point in their childhood
-In Britain, over 1.6 million women and men were victims of domestic abuse in 2014/15
-62% of children living in homes where domestic violence occurs are also harmed
Please be aware that this is NOT for emergency help. CLICK HERE for information on emergency help.