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Domestic Abuse - information for families

Domestic abuse is threatening behaviour or violent acts carried out by one person towards another in romantic or family relationships. It can take many forms, but may involve one or more of the following:

  • Physical abuse - the use of violence or the threat of it towards someone.
  • Sexual abuse - forcing someone to have sex or making them carry out sex acts they don't want to do.
  • Emotional abuse - repeated controlling behaviour, threats or nasty comments towards someone.
  • Financial abuse - control over someone's property or how they use their money.

Further details of these and other types of domestic abuse can be found on the Surrey Against Domestic Abuse website.

Domestic abuse takes place across all genders and sexualities. It can be a one-off but is often repeated.

Signs of being a victim of domestic abuse

There may be other explanations for these but signs include:

  • Feeling afraid around or very anxious about upsetting your partner or family member.
  • Feeling alone and cut off from loved ones.
  • Having low self-esteem and feeling that you don't deserve better.
  • Needing alcohol, anti-depressants or other drugs to cope.

These are only some of the signs, there are many more some of which can be found on the Victim Support website.

How domestic abuse can affect a child

Seeing or hearing domestic abuse is upsetting for a child and may affect them in the short or long term. It can lead to the following in children:

  • Angry or aggressive behaviour.
  • Mental health issues including anxiety, depression and self-harm.
  • Not sleeping, having nightmares or bedwetting.
  • Getting into trouble or not doing well at school.

Further ways domestic abuse can affect a child, can be found on the NSPCC website.

Children may also be hurt if they try and protect someone and get caught in the middle. Those who carry out domestic abuse may also be cruel to or threaten children and it has been a factor in many Serious Case Reviews (which take place when a child has suffered a serious injury due to abuse or neglect) in Surrey.

How you can help a child

  • Tell them what they have seen or heard is wrong.
  • Tell them they can talk to you or somebody else they trust about their feelings.
  • Let them know about services such as Childline, Kooth or The Hideout, where they can talk about how they feel.
  • Plan together what to do if they feel unsafe.

Further details of ways to help a child, can be found in the Women's Aid Survivors Handbook.

Where can a victim receive help?

Being the victim of domestic abuse can affect your confidence but it is important to realise that you are not alone or to blame and there are many ways to get help including;

If you feel at risk, then try to find a safe place and contact the police on 999.