What about my children?

What about my children?

Domestic violence affects children in many different ways. By talking and listening to your children you can help them deal with what is happening.


How will the abuse affect my children?

Children living with violence in the home may respond to their circumstances in many different ways. They may feel frightened, insecure and confused. Often, they learn to keep their feelings and fears to themselves. They may feel like the violence must be kept secret, and they may not tell anyone what is happening.

Some children may have difficulty at school, become aggressive or have trouble sleeping. Others become ‘model’ pupils because they feel anxious about ‘conflict’ or are worried about making things worse at home. Other children experience frequent headaches, asthma or constant coughs and colds.

Read this section on the effects of abuse on children for more information.

With support, children can cope with and make sense of what is happening. They can overcome the trauma or witnessing or experiencing violence, and go on to live safe, happy lives.

Refuge believes that no child should have to live with fear or abuse. Our specialist staff understand the complex ways in which domestic violence can affect children, and support them to rebuild their lives.


How can I help my children?

  • Talk openly with them and answer any questions they may have, as honestly as you are able, using words that match their age and stage of development
  • Make sure they know the abuse is not their fault
  • Teach them that abuse is not acceptable
  • Help them discuss their feelings. Bottling everything up can create additional pressure. Listen to what they have to say and respond with respect and understanding
  • Avoid burdening them with adult responsibilities. As much as they may want to help, it is not their job to look after you
  • Encourage them to mix with other people. Contact with other people will make your children feel less isolated and boost their confidence. They will also have the opportunity to see other men behaving respectfully towards their partners
  • Help them to stay safe. Teach them to call 999 and speak to the police so they know how to get emergency help. But warn them that it is dangerous to intervene if you are being attacked. Tell them they are not responsible for protecting you
  • Teach them to reach out for help by doing so yourself. Show them that getting help is a positive step and that there is nothing to be ashamed of
  • Try to boost their self-esteem by letting them know you love them. Praise them and encourage their interests


More questions?

For more information, try looking around the website or reading our page of frequently asked questions. Or call the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline. Trained counsellors are there to listen and provide practical information and emotional support, every hour of the day.