Barnardos Calls for Voices of Children and Young People to be heard as Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse

Barnardos, Ireland’s leading children’s charity, today held a seminar ‘Empowering Children: the Impact of Domestic Violence on Children’

Posted on Thursday 03 June 2021 in Press Releases

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021: Barnardos, Ireland’s leading children’s charity, today held a seminar ‘Empowering Children: the Impact of Domestic Violence on Children’, with expert and international speakers coming together to consider the often silent voice of the child in domestic violence and abuse.

Barnardos has worked with thousands of children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse across its services.

Speaking at today’s event Aine Costello, National coordinator of the Childhood Domestic Abuse Project with Barnardos said, “We see first hand the devastating affect domestic violence can have on children’s lives and wellbeing. Currently there is insufficient support available across most of the country for these children and professionals working with them, and there is often an absence of a coordinated community response.

It is our aim, and those of our many partner organisations that we work with, to listen to the voice of the child and better understand their needs and how they can best be supported”.

The government has recently launched a consultation on developing a new national strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV). If the strategy is to be successful, Ms. Costello believes it “must expressly recognise the impact on children, effectively capture their voices and reflect their thoughts, views and needs.”

Also speaking at today’s event were Dr. Stephanie Holt, Head of School of Social Work & Social Policy and Dr. Katie Lamb is a research fellow at the University of Melbourne whose research explores the perspectives of children and young people after family violence. According to Dr. Lamb, “We need to explore ways of working with young people as domestic violence experts, to co-design service responses that meet the needs that they identify as most important... Children want to be offered an opportunity to be involved in the discussion."

"If I look hard enough, I can still see him in the shadows and around corners. My mind adds silhouettes of him underneath streetlights and behind windows, the figures unshakeable no matter how many times I blink."

(Quote from Dr. Katie Lamb's research*)

Additionally, Helen Oxenham, a childhood domestic violence and abuse survivor, originally from Cork now living in Australia, participated in today’s event. Ms. Oxenham spoke about her experience, how "we screamed loudly. I'm sure the neighbors heard us", and also discussed her life dedication to supporting women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Joan Mullan, DSGBV Programme Manager with Tusla also spoke at the event, representing the section of Tusla driving the issue forward.

Barnardos is calling for the new strategy to provide actions to improve access to support services for children impacted by domestic violence, focused on prevention, crisis and recovery with a locally coordinated community response. Current support available is not adequately available in many parts of the country. In order to develop adequate levels of support the government must first determine the true level of need and scale of the issue across the country and commissioning research to undertake this should be a priority.