Living with Parental Domestic Abuse

This section of the website focuses on how to help children living in families where there is domestic abuse

For discussion on choice of term click here go to page on the main ENCARE website where this is discussed.

The nature of the problem, the extent of the problem, the impact on children, and broad guidance (with examples) of how to respond will be summarised. Ideas for further reading and resources will be given.

More detail can also be found on other pages of this website (link given below). We will not cover issues relating to the perpetrators of domestic violence and aggression. However, one of our ENCARE projects (TAVIM) has focused on perpetrators.

Read more from ENCARE main site on parental domestic abuse

Read more on TAVIM project


In the region of a quarter to a third of all women are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, at least half of whom will have children. Women with children are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse. Miscarriages occur in nearly a third of cases of domestic violence involving pregnant women.

The United National Study on Violence against Children (2006) reported very large numbers of children in the UK are exposed to domestic violence, in the region of 240,000 – 963,000. The Department of Health estimates that about 750,000 children witness domestic violence, with large numbers of those under 5 years of age.

The report ‘Violent Britain, reported that in 90% of cases of intimate partner violence the child is in the same or an adjacent room. Data from the Violent Britain report and the Department of Health suggest that high numbers, perhaps around 75%) of children on the Child Protection Register are affected by domestic violence. The British Crime Survey 2005-2006 included a self-complete module on intimate violence (domestic violence [partner abuse or family abuse], stalking and sexual assault), collecting data from over 20,000 adults aged 16-59 years about the previous 12 months. Non-sexual partner abuse was the most common form of intimate violence experienced by both men and women. The presence of children in the home increased the probability of most forms of intimate violence, particularly among women.

It is estimated that there are about 11,000 children are living with domestic violence in Northern Ireland. A Scottish study of 254 school pupils aged 11-17 years old reported that a third were currently witnessing domestic abuse (Alexander et al., 2005). A Welsh study of female victims aged 13-17 years of childhood sexual abuse found that nearly half had been subjected to physical violence in a dating relationship (Cyr et al., 2006). Data from the North East of England (reported as part of an international report called ‘Behind Closed Doors: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children’) indicates that over 16,000 children in the North East and Yorkshire are affected by domestic violence.

The ‘National Report on Domestic Violence’ (including the National Delivery Plan [pdf]) and the ‘Progress Report on this Plan’ [pdf] are the key national policy documents in this area. Both highlight the importance of offering a high level of quality support to the victims of domestic violence/abuse, including children. There are also links to the vision outlined in the Government’s ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda as well as the legislation covered in the ‘Children Act 2004’. ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ and new, cross disciplinary and multi-agency run Children’s Trusts are important steps in driving forward the vision of the national children and families agenda.