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Domestic Abuse

Click on the link to view the SCB Domestic Violence and Abuse Procedure D05 and strategy

Domestic abuse is a crime and a major social problem affecting many families. It is a controlling behaviour and a misuse of power, and includes all kinds of physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse. Children may experience many different effects from witnessing domestic abuse, both in the short and long term, which may affect them. Even if a child is not in the same room when the abuse occurs, hearing the ill treatment of another person can still harm them.

How does it affect children?
The emotional impact on a child living in a violent household should not be underestimated, and it is overwhelmingly women and children who are affected by domestic abuse and men who are abusers, although some men are abused also.

Children, who witness, intervene or hear incidents of domestic abuse are affected in many ways and responses will vary, but what can be guaranteed is that children do hear it, see it, and they are aware of such abuse taking place in the family. Children learn by example, and domestic abuse teaches negative things about relationships and how to deal with people.

For example:

  • It can teach children that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict.
  • Children may learn how to keep inappropriate secrets.
  • Children can learn to mistrust those close to them.
  • Children may blame themselves for the abuse, especially if violence erupts after an argument about the children.

Younger Children might experience:

  • Bedwetting.
  • Nightmares.
  • Feelings of guilt and blame.
  • Fear and insecurity.
  • Emotional confusion.
  • Problems at school.

Older children may:

  • Copy the abuser's behaviour.
  • Be unable to form positive trusting relationships.
  • Be depressed, anxious or fearful.
  • Be very demanding.
  • Use drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Exhibit aggressive behaviour and showing anger.

The longer children are exposed to violence and abuse, the more severe the effects on them are. Any type of abuse between adults will have a negative effect on a child. This may include:

  • A lack of respect for the non-violent parent.
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem, impacting in every area of life.
  • Being overly-protective of their parent.
  • Loss of childhood.
  • Difficulties with their own relationships.
  • Problems at school.
  • Running away.

Why do women stay?
Many people find it difficult to understand why women remain in or return to abusive situations. A combination of fear, love, the risk of homelessness and financial issues can make it very difficult for women with children to leave. Some women will want to remain in the family home and have the perpetrator leave.

Preventing abuse

Claire’s Law
“Clare’s Law” commemorates Clare Wood who was murdered by her violent ex-partner and aims to prevent women or men from becoming victims of domestic abuse by providing a formal method of making enquiries about an individual who they are in a current intimate relationship with or considering starting a relationship with.

The aim is to help the potential victim make an informed decision on whether or not to continue with the relationship and will also provide further help and support to assist them if they make the decision to leave safely. This work is usually done by the Police in conjunction with an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA).

There are two routes into the scheme:

The Right to Ask:-
An application can be made by the person themselves (Person at Risk - PAR) or someone on their behalf such as a professional, family member, neighbour or friend who has concerns about “the Subject”. Requests using the scheme as a “Right to Ask” can be done by visiting a local police station or phoning 101 and asking for an application under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme or Clare’s Law. This process will take up to 35 working days and the person making the application, if it not the PAR, will not necessarily know the result of any disclosure, that will be done to the PAR themselves. Only when the applicant is the person best placed to safeguard the PAR would they know the outcome of the disclosure.

The Right to Know:-
Indirect information is received that the ‘Subject ‘is known for violent or abusive behaviour within a relationship and there are serious concerns for the safety of a new or potential new partner if they were to be in a relationship with the subject.

How does it work for Professionals?
Professionals can make requests using the scheme as a “Right to ask” by visiting a local police station or phoning 101 as above.

For Social Care practitioners:
If a family is currently an open case to a social worker and they are aware of information that they believe a parent / carer needs to know in order to safeguard children, the social worker can make the relevant disclosure to the parent / carer.

The police information to be disclosed is at the discretion of the social worker as per their policies and procedures but must be proportionate and relevant to the domestic abuse or violent offending history. For further advice, please email

Further information:

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