Day 7: Children are abused

Posted on December 01, 2015 at 09:59 AM

Day 7

Domestic violence continues to be a very common context in which children experience abuse, with the abuser of the mother being the abuser of the children. Research shows that the more severe the domestic violence is against the mother, the higher the risk of abuse against the children in the home.

In 2014, there were 5,786 disclosures of child abuse to the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline.

5,453 disclosures of emotional abuse and 248 disclosures where children were physically or sexually abused by the perpetrator of their mother’s abuse. In addition, there were 72 disclosures where children were abused during access visits and 13 disclosures of child abduction in the context of domestic violence.

The abusive tactics used against children living in domestic violence situations disclosed to the National Freephone Helpline in 2014include:

  • Children being exposed to domestic violence against their mother
  • Abuser manipulating children against their mother
  • Abuser hitting children, including with household items
  • Abuser sexually abusing children
  • Abuser constantly shouting at and verbally abusing children
  • Children witnessing pets being abused, kicked and thrown against a wall
  • Children witnessing abuser self-harming

The abuse of the mother and children often continues after separation, especially in the context of access visits and joint custody.

Women’s Aid believes that custody and access arrangements in Family Law proceedings often disregard the impact of domestic violence on children and as a result risk continuing abuse of the children as well as exposure to abuse of their mother during the hand over period. Child contact should not outweigh child protection and safety should be prioritised in all custody and access proceedings.

Click here to visit the Women's Aid website for helpful information on domestic violence and children and you can call our National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900 (10am to 10pm, 7 days).

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