Domestic abuse

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child contact the Southampton Children's Resources Service on 023 8083 3004.

Call 999 if you are concerned that a child is in immediate danger.

A broken plate scattered on a hard floor

Domestic abuse is: "Any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”. In nine out of ten cases, children are in the same or next room when the abuse is going on and so the domestic abuse impacts on their wellbeing.

How does domestic abuse affect children?

Children are affected in many ways by abuse, even after a short time. These effects include: feeling frightened, becoming withdrawn, bedwetting, running away, aggressiveness, behavioural difficulties, problems with school, poor concentration and emotional turmoil. The longer children are exposed to abuse, the more severe the effects on them are.

  • Domestic violence may teach children to use violence
  • Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways
  • Where there is domestic abuse, there is often child abuse
  • Children will often blame themselves for domestic abuse
  • Alcohol misuse is a very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families
  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic abuse

Children who witness, intervene or hear incidents are affected in many ways. What can be guaranteed is that children do hear, they do see and they are aware of abuse in the family. Children will learn how to behave from examples parents/carers set for them. Domestic abuse teaches children negative things about relationships and how to deal with people. For instance:

  • It can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict
  • They learn how to keep secrets
  • They learn to mistrust those close to them and that children are responsible and to blame for abuse, especially if violence erupts after an argument about the children

Coercive control

The Serious Crime Act 2015 creates a new offence of repeated or continuous controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships where the victim and perpetrator are personally contacted. The new offence closes a gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour in an ongoing relationship between intimate partners or family members. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a fine or both.

Coercive behaviour is a continuing act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This form of domestic abuse will have a detrimental impact on children living in this environment

What can I do?

Domestic abuse is a crime, never hesitate to call the police who have specialist officers trained to help you and put you in touch with other agencies who can help you with safety planning, housing issues, drug or alcohol problems or give details of solicitors who can assist you with the legal side of things.

Services for men and woman experiencing domestic violence both locally and nationally, who can provide advice and support on a wide range of issues can be found below and on our National Resources webpage.

Other help and resources

Do you recognise that you are abusive to your partner? Are you concerned that your behaviour towards your partner is costing your relationship? Are you worried your children are witnessing too many arguments between their parents? You can refer yourself to The Hampton's Trust who provide a service for perpetrators.

The Hampton Trust provide a range of services for perpetrators to encourage healthy, non-abusive relationships. Contact the service on 02380 009898 or visit their website.