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Minister of State Listens to Children’s Experience of Coercive Control  


30 November: Children are victims of coercive control in their own right – according to children’s charity Barnardos. As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2023, Empower Kids Project and Barnardos are raising awareness of the impact coercive control on children.    

The Empower Kids Project, is part of Barnardos’ National Childhood Domestic Violence and Abuse Project funded by Tusla. It is a multi-agency* collaboration with services from around Ireland – and includes the voices of more than 74 children and young people to date who have endured the impact of domestic violence and abuse.    

The calls are being made at the release of the Kids Coercive Control Web a new resource that has been designed by the 74 children and young people who participated in the Empower Kids project to date.  This resource is aimed at front line services and professionals to enhance their understanding of the impact of coercive control on children. The resource supports children and young people to be able to name their unique experiences of domestic violence and abuse, so that their expertise and agency is affirmed, valued, respected and listened to by the adults in their lives.      

The resource was launched by Minister of State at the Department of Justice with special responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice James Browne at the Aisling Hotel in Dublin on 30th November where children presented their views and experiences to the Minister.  

Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO said: ‘Almost 1 in 4 children Barnardos work with have experienced the impact of Domestic Violence.The first place children learn about relationships are in the family home. Children growing up in homes where there is coercive control will be hyper vigilant experiencing many feelings from anger, fear and sadness. Since January 2019, coercive control is a crime. We are calling on Government and policy makers to recognise that children are victims of coercive control in their own right. They need their voices to be heard and experiences listened to in the monitoring of the 3rd national strategy on Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence. As we know only too well, childhood lasts a lifetime and children must to be listened to.’  

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said: ‘ The Zero Tolerance Strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence identifies children and young people as both witnesses and victims/survivors, and aims to support and protect all children who are exposed to domestic violence. Zero tolerance means exactly that – it means zero tolerance of these crimes across society, across genders, across age groups. Helping to ensure children have a voice in cases of coercive control is a fantastic initiative. This new coercive control toolkit will make sure that children’s voices are heard and I want to thank Barnardos for their invaluable work in this area, and for developing this new resource.’ 

Speaking at the launch Minister of State James Browne at the Department of Justice with special responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice said: ‘Not only can this new toolkit shed light on the lived experiences of children in these difficult situations but, by incorporating their views, it ensures we have practical resources and on Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence. As we know only too well, childhood lasts a lifetime and children must to be listened to.’ 

Cormac Quinlan Director of Transformation and Policy Tusla: “Every day Tusla receives serious concerns from children and adults about the experience and impact of domestic violence and in particular coercive control on children. Both adult and child victims and survivors of abuse are exceptionally clear on the harmful impact of such abuse and coercive controlling behaviour in their lives and most worryingly the long-term impact in can have into adulthood. All of society needs to identify and challenge concerning adult behaviour for the protection and safeguarding of children and adult victims. It is incumbent on us both as an Agency and an professionals to be informed about what their direct experiences can tell us both in terms of its impact but also in how we can work in partnership with them to achieve meaningful and long last safety in their lives.”   


Empower Kids Quotes-    

Can you stand with us – we are struggling in silence – no one is talking about us’     

‘We want to make a change, we want to see a difference in the way children are seen and treated.’    

‘We have something to say – we want to be heard and taken seriously.’   

‘It’s always the adults points of view – Children’s experiences are not been spoken about enough.   



  Barnardos Press Office: 086 0445966

Spokespeople available – Suzanne Connolly Barnardos CEO/ Aine Costello Barnardos National Co-Ordinator for Childhood Domestic Violence and Project 

*Partner Services for the Empower Kids project: The Empower Kids project team member services are:  Cope Domestic Violence service Galway, Aoibhneas Domestic abuse support for women and children, Adapt domestic abuse services, Mayo women’s support services, Longford women’s link, Clarehaven, Meath Domestic violence service, Daughters of Charity – Dublin Safer families, Women’s aid Dundalk, EPIC, Saoirse Domestic Violence services and Cuan Saor Domestic Violence service. Barnardos TLC KIDZ projects across North Tipp, Limerick/Clare, Cavan/Monaghan, Cork and Dublin South East/Wicklow 

Empower Kids project materials:



About Barnardos

Barnardos’ mission is to deliver services and work with families, communities, and our partners to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences. Because childhood lasts a lifetime  

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