Day 7: Children are abused

Posted on December 01, 2016 at 10:43 AM


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 2015, there were 5,966 disclosures of child abuse to the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline.

This figure includes 5,582 disclosures of emotional abuse14 and 281 disclosures where children were physically or sexually abused by the perpetrator of their mother’s abuse. It also includes 82 disclosures of where children were being abused during access visits and 21 disclosures of child abduction in the context of domestic violence.

Our recent Femicide Watch Report 1996 - 2016 tells us that 14 children were killed alongside their mothers in domestic homicides.

  The abusive tactics used against children living with domestic violence in 2015 included:

  • Children witnessing verbal, physical and sexual abuse against their mother.
  • Children being constantly shouted at and being called names.
  • Abuser threatening to kill the child/children.
  • Children being emotionally manipulated and being told lies about their mother.
  • Children being abused during access arrangements.

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, 24 hours, 7 days.

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