During October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we have been raising awareness of domestic abuse focusing particularly on how it can affect children and young people.
With 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men affected by domestic abuse (MOD’s No Defence for Abuse Strategy), it is inevitable that children and young people will also be exposed the abuse within the family unit which can have serious consequences for their mental and physical wellbeing. 1 in 5 children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse (NSPCC) and this figure will undoubtedly include a number of Armed Forces children and young people. Our own data showed that approximately 4% of the children and young people we support through our Children & Family Support Service have experienced domestic abuse within their family unit.
Is is therefore essential that we address and acknowledge the issue of domestic abuse within the families that we support, especially when taking into consideration the additional barriers that Armed Forces community can face when dealing with this issue.
Furthermore, this month has led us to highlight the importance of centering the voices of children and young people who have been exposed to domestic abuse through domestic abuse and children’s charities and organisations. For example, Scottish Women’s Aid in partnership with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, consulted children and young people on making their voices heard in court during domestic abuse cases through their Power Up/Power Down project in 2016. The project highlighted key areas for positive change and identified how to make the system better for children and young people whose voices are often ‘ignored’ when a domestic abuse case goes through the court.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc. and children and young people often become secondary victims.
It is important to know that #YouAreNotAlone and that there are organisations who are there to help if you, or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse.
MOD: Where to get help
MOD: Support & guidance