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Domestic Violence Bill Must Be Strengthened

Barnardos welcomes the final phase of the 'What would you do' campaign which provides information to the public on how to help someone who is experiencing domestic abuse.

Posted on Tuesday 27 March 2018 in Advocacy, Press Releases

Barnardos welcomes the final phase of the 'What would you do' campaign which provides information to the public on how to help someone who is experiencing domestic abuse. The charity highlighted children are often the forgotten victims of domestic abuse and witnessing violence in the home can have a devastating impact on a child's emotional health and their ability to form healthy relationships in the future.

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos said: "We welcome the latest phase of the 'What would you do' campaign and hope that it will lead to more victims and families accessing the support they need. We also hope it continues to break the silence around domestic abuse and instil a cultural responsibility on everyone to have zero tolerance towards it. We estimated approximately 40% of the families we work with across our 42 centres experience domestic abuse. Through our work with these families we know that bearing witness to domestic abuse leaves children with deep emotional scars. Living in fear and harbouring the secret of what is happening at home often results in deep anxiety or aggressive outbursts, it impacts every aspect of a child's life including their health, schooling, peer relationships and other developmental aspects. It is, simply, a form of child abuse."

"Children are usually referred to Barnardos because of their behaviour. It is often only after a few sessions we realise the root cause of their distress is 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 non-abusive parent's confidence in their parenting, we cannot provide all the solutions. A big problem is the lack of therapeutic services available to children and families, the availability of therapeutic services across the country would greatly assist our family support in aiding a child and family's recovery. Otherwise, there is a strong chance these children will be LOST too, similar to the one in seven children LOST to homelessness, poverty and neglect as per the Barnardos LOST Childhood campaign.

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos concluded: "Immediate steps must be taken to ensure greater protection and support for children and families caught up in these chilling situations. This means improving child protection provisions in the current Domestic Violence Bill 2017 which is up for discussion in the Seanad on Wednesday. Practical provisions must be added such as including risk assessments on the impact of domestic abuse on children, ensuring sufficient family support services are available and establishing a family friendly court welfare service with appropriate suite of related supports."