Letter: Families who suffer in silence

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Sir: The Government's decision to review whether more can be done to tackle domestic violence is very welcome (report, 12 August).

We are aware of the lasting effects domestic violence has an women and children. Research shows that in nine out of 10 cases of domestic violence in families, the children are in the same room, or in the next room, when the violence takes place. Children have told us of attempting to protect their mother, or of being attacked themselves.

However, as you say, many incidents go unreported. Awareness of the extent of the problem will be a welcome first step.

But awareness alone is not the answer. Women, and research shows it is usually women, experiencing domestic violence need to be able to seek help for themselves and their children without feeling that they will be blamed. We have found that women often delay seeking help because they fear that they will lose their children and that professionals do not always understand that fear.

There is a lack of information and guidance for professionals, whether they be teachers, social workers or staff at playgroups, on dealing with disclosures of domestic violence. That lack prompted us to publish a set of practice guidelines earlier this year. But much more needs to be done to make sure that fewer women and children have to suffer in silence.

CAROLINE ABRAHAMS

Head of Public Policy

NCH Action For Children

London N5

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