160,000 UK children seeing domestic abuse in their homes, figures show

Tens of thousands of under-18s living in households where routine abuse takes place – yet support services in 'crisis' as provision drops by 16 per cent

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 07 September 2018 16:49 BST
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Women's Aid release advert showcasing extent of domestic violence

An estimated 160,000 children in England are living in households where they witness domestic abuse, new figures show, as support services dwindle.

Data published by Women’s Aid shows that while tens of thousands of under-18s witness domestic violence in their homes, provision of support has dropped by 16 per cent since 2010, in what has been described as a “crisis” facing domestic abuse services.

A short film released by the charity depicts the experience of a child living in a household where abuse is taking place.

Figures published last year showed that despite more than half of residents in refuges being children, a third of refuges are unable to provide a children’s support worker.

Meanwhile, demand for refuges continues to far exceed supply, with 94 women and 90 children being turned away from a refuge on just one day last year.

Women’s Aid said many survivors report that their children are experiencing anxiety and behavioural issues and problems at school as a result of witnessing domestic abuse, with one saying her son began self-harming.

Twenty-six under-14s are known to have been killed alongside their mothers last year, demonstrating the potentially deadly consequences domestic abuse can have if support is not available.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “With this campaign we wanted to shine a light on the hidden victims of domestic abuse: children.

“Children not only witness domestic abuse, they experience it. Thousands of children are living in homes filled with fear, frightened of what will happen next.”

If you are worried about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.

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