Children and young people have often been referred to as the hidden or forgotten victims of domestic abuse. In recent years however, recognition that children and young people are impacted upon by domestic abuse has spread, and policy and practice has begun to develop accordingly. It is important to remember that whole families suffer from domestic abuse.
For every woman experiencing abuse in the home there will usually be children who are also suffering. The experiences of these children and young people are often overlooked.
Domestic Abuse affects everyone in the family in different ways. It can be hard to talk about what is happening to you. It can be difficult to make sense of it.
One of the most effective ways to help you children is by keeping yourself safe.
Talk to your children. Be as honest as you can about the situation without frightening them. Reassure them that the violence is not their fault and that they are not responsible for the behaviour of your partner.
If you choose to stay in a refuge our Child Workers provide support and activities for children. Refuge can be a very positive experience for children. They are safe, they have the opportunity to meet other children in a similar situation to their, they can talk about their experiences to each other and they can begin to understand that they are not alone.
Children can be helped to come to an understanding of their situation. Support is also provided for children and young people whose mothers are using the outreach service.
Women’s Aid ABCLN understands the impact domestic abuse can have on children and young people and aims to provide a service to meet each of their complex and individual needs.
Detailed information on services available through out Northern Ireland can be found in Our Place – Safe Space: Directory of Children and Young People Services in Northern Ireland.
We provide a range of age appropriate specialised services, including:
- Outreach Support
- Group Work
- One to one support
- Personal development programmes
- Prevention programmes
Women’s Aid in England have created a website called The Hideout children and young people can go if they want answers to questions such as:
- What is abuse?
- Is it happening to me?
- What can I do?
If at any time you or a member of your family is in danger and needs help Dial 999 – ask for the police and tell them what is happening.
Family First Project
The Family First Project works in partnership with Women’s Aid and the NHSCT Family Intervention teams across Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey. The project supports mothers and children who have experienced (or currently experience) domestic violence, at the earliest possible opportunity thereby reducing risk, minimizing further harm, preventing separation (resulting from children being taken into care) and strengthening family relationships.
The project is working very successfully based on the joint partnership and coordinated response to the women and their children from Social workers and Women’s Aid staff that will promote very positive outcomes.
The Family First project employs a dedicated team of 8 support staff and is funded by Big Lottery Supporting Families.