Let’s Talk About Domestic Abuse

15 Jun 2017 in Press Releases, Advocacy, Featured

The unacceptable presence of domestic abuse in our communities and the devastating impact it can have on children and young people is the focus of the ‘Let’s Talk About Domestic Abuse’ seminar. Today’s workshop organised by the Carlow and Kilkenny Children and Young People’s Services Committee and supported by Barnardos is delighted to have Linda Finn, Lead Practitioner and Trainer on programmes working with children and mothers affected by domestic abuse over to share insights and experiences of children living with domestic abuse among practitioners. 

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos, said: “Often professionals and the public overlook the impact of domestic abuse on children. Sadly, every day Barnardos sees that living in an abusive environment leaves a massive emotional scar on a child and often results in deep anxiety or aggressive outbursts, never mind the impact on their health, schooling, peer relationships and other developmental aspects. It is, simply, a form of child abuse.

“We know that without appropriate support there is a huge risk of irreparable damage to the child-parent relationship, and frighteningly, the cycle of abuse continuing. This is because research shows children who grow up experiencing domestic abuse are more likely to become perpetrators or victims in their adult life.”

“My sister and me just hugged each other till the fighting stopped, we were scared.” Child, five years old

Mairead Maddock, Co-ordinator of Carlow and Kilkenny Children and Young People’s Services Committee said, “Today’s seminar is an opportunity to highlight the scale of domestic abuse happening in our local community. Domestic abuse can take place in any relationship. It is not determined by sexuality, socio-economic status, age or ethnicity. So we collectively have to be alert to it and offer appropriate supports to those affected, especially children as its impact can be devastating.”

“No one told me it was a secret but I knew I was not supposed to tell.” Child, 11 years old

Marian Dowd, Barnardos Project Leader in Carlow, said, “Children are often referred to Barnardos because of their behaviour. It is often only after a few sessions we realise the root cause of their distress can be their experience of domestic abuse. While we do all we can to support families to feel safe in their home, to understand it is not their fault and to rebuild the mother’s confidence in her parenting role, we cannot provide all the solutions. That’s why it is so important to work together with other agencies to bring about the best solution possible.”

“I know it’s my fault when Mammy and Daddy fight. I can be naughty sometimes.” Child, seven years old

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos concluded, “It is clear we must take urgent action to ensure we better support children caught in these chilling situations. This means improving child protection in our domestic violence legislation, ensuring sufficient family support services are available, establishing a family friendly court service and building an infrastructure of related supports, including funding for child contact centres, more family friendly refuge centres and free legal aid.”

Read our policy report What’s the harm? A child centred response to domestic abuse

See our short video uncovering 6 things you might not know about the impact of domestic abuse on children