Not just Collateral Damage: The hidden impact of domestic abuse on children

Type Policy and research document

Emma James
Published on
1 February 2020

Across Barnardo’s 1,000+ services, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of children we support who are known to have experienced domestic abuse either in their families or in their personal relationships. Over 76% of Barnardo’s frontline workers recently said they have supported children, young people and/or parents who experienced domestic abuse over the last year (October 2018-19). It is striking that in much of the debate on domestic abuse, the impact on children and young people is largely overlooked. This report is our attempt to address that.

This research is based on the experiences of the children we support at Barnardo’s and the expertise of those who work directly with them. It lays bare the evidence that living in an abusive household is hugely traumatic for children with significant costs to them personally and to society as a whole. Without the right support at an early stage, children in this situation are at risk of becoming trapped in a life-long cycle of violence. Yet despite this, we know that services for these children are patchy and under strain.

Keywords: Domestic abuse; Child Protection