In “Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 419” Richards explores the issue of “Children’s exposure to domestic violence in Australia.” Children witnessing domestic violence is a major issue in Australia and across the globe. In addition it is also a form of child abuse with children suffering emotional damage as well as a host of psychological problems from having been exposed to the abuse. Researchers are not yet sure exactly how much the domestic abuse that the children are witnessing, however they have pointed out that they believe that children are witnessing a significant amount of domestic violence.

The outcomes of children experiencing domestic violence can include health impacts, behavioural problems and socio-economic impacts. Witnessing the abuse can also lead children to believe that abuse in the home is normal which will lead to them being more likely to perpetrate the violence when they get older. There are some initiatives that are being done to try to curb children’s exposure to domestic abuse and to also help them heal from the damage caused by witnessing domestic violence.

The paper outlines specifically what actions constitute the children’s exposure to domestic violence. These actions include:

– having to call emergency services for help

– seeing a parent being injured after a domestic violence incident

– having to help the parent with treating the injuries caused by the domestic abuse

– having to deal with the perpetrator of the violence who can often change between being caring to causing the violence in the home

– seeing a parent get arrested

– having to leave the home due to an incident which commonly involves separation from other family members, school friends and other friends.


The study also focuses on the difficulties with measuring the exposure to the violence because of the fact that the data is not commonly collected and in addition domestic violence as a whole often goes under-reported.

The behavioural impacts on children that have been exposed to domestic violence are numerous. These impacts include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • trauma symptoms
  • increased aggression
  • antisocial behaviour
  • lower social competence
  • temperament problems
  • low self-esteem
  • the presence of pervasive fear
  • mood problems
  • loneliness
  • school problems
  • conflict with peers
  • impaired cognitive functioning
  • substance abuse
  • eating disorders
  • teenage pregnancy
  • leaving school early
  • suicide attempts
  • delinquency and violence.

However additional studies indicate that the age of the children plays a large role in the child’s ability to recover and not be adversely affected by the violence. The younger the children are when they witness the violence, the higher the likelihood there is that they can recover without as profound of adverse affects. The children were also more likely to fair better if they have social support. The differences in how children cope with the domestic violence aftermath also depends on the child’s gender and the child’s coping abilities.

Here is a list of all of the different initiates that have been put into place to help children recover from domestic abuse by territory.

  • NSW – Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007
  • ACT – Children and Young People Act 2008
  • Vic – Family Violence Protection Act 2008
  • Qld – Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989
  • WA – Restraining Orders Act 1997
  • SA – Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009
  • Tas – Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997
  • Tas – Family Violence Act 2004
  • NT – Care and Protection of Children Act 2007
  • NT – Domestic and Family Violence Act 2007


One thought on “Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence in Australia

  1. raelene

    after being in a domestic violence relationship and never knowing anyone or ever seeing my parents barely argue I had no idea just what I was putting my children through. I thought I was saving them hurt from leaving and living in a split family. to me having parents g grandparents aunties and uncles all still together it was not an option. all I ever saw was love and broken families the kids were naughty smoked drank from very early ages. My ex and I would fight argue in front of them nothing physical but the abusive words hed use to put me down was gut wrenching knowing they kids heard him and his choice of words to their mother. id flare up back a lot thinking it was ok to show them you don’t let someone say those things and just take it, 8 years my son saw 6 years for my daughter 2 for my bub. as he went right of the rails and physically abused me in front of my 2 yr old quiet bad I couldn’t move had to ring my friend to come. being prepared with hidden phone at my side just in case that day I was lucky. BUTTTTT after being told by everyone I needed a restraining order I just did as I was told, 12 years with my ex who I don’t believe I could love anyone ever as much. the first 5 years ammaazzzing so perfect after kids things slowly went down hill very gradually, although when things were great it honestly was fantastic going on holidays together he adores the kids take them playground made motrhersday gifts with them for me. he tried so hard. had a heart pf gold and im sure always will. our friends only handful but special at that. out of the blue the one we admired lokked up to believed was perfect withperfect partner gorgeouse always happy handy man renovated to top notch their home, was always funny but could have deep and meaniful sincer conversations it was my ex’sbest most valued loved friend. one day for no reason commited suicide, this was just on top it didn’t make him do the thiings he did at all!!!we took care of his devastated lost heartbroken partner who I also adored loved, soon months later the messages between them got wrong, I pushed ex said when she rings or messages your the closest thing she has to him, just mke her feel betternext thing that blows out of control I lose her we fight trust goes, he then turned to old friends went futher down hill trying to do his 10 hour days sometimes 6 days a week then going to meet them straight away to chop fire wood dry it stack it sell it deliver at times as they didn’t have license and he said if I don’t help them how will they have money to feed their kids so from wed to sun for 6 months longer he slowly drifted away coming home at all hours in morning and gone to work at 7am kids missed begged him to stay home more, he changed anny way he moved out we faught more off and on until the day that happened, so I believe yes we yelled in front of eldest 2 but he still did his best to never physically abuse me,
    after breaking restraining order 100ds of times and police never following him up warning nothing just let to come and do what he wanted in our home continue with saying hell kill me and ripping up windows intimidating me at 3 am, I reported time and time again nothing then one day bang arrested in jail 10 days same thing went on 3 time in and out of jail, threatening me bailing me up in middle of noitht here and thereit was like a nightmare, so 5 and half months late of abosolute HELL and fear not being able to return to our home kids pulled from school several weeks here and there I thought the only way somethings going to change is I need to be there for him his hurting his losing the kids and its just not him to act THHHIIISSSS badly. so I started talking more and responding to him a lot more civil for the sake of this kids I didn’t want them seeing police day after day making statements….and for what…? so roughly 1 and half weeks we were getting along kind of restraining order ment hes not aloud 200 mt of me yet most nights hed be at back door begging for me just to talk about things I reporteded every time for first 4 months also being told if I didn’t report every breech of AVO id have my children taken from me for not providing a safe environment. I saw it as he was being happier made theeffort to visit the kids and they LOVVVEEED every second from having him everyday to weeks then months without seeing him, one night he was on his way to my house he did a skid just down the road a little one as he turned to wards my house, the polivce sirens on under cover – hed been watched by 3 -4 different utes cars fourwhell drives for weeks saying they couldn’t catch him to arrest him.?!?!?! but this night the 2 male police officers chased him to my friveway where I had just unloaded kids and was just about to open door they ran him down past kids knocked me from off the door step to where he was hed ran straight to font door I think he assumed the door was open but id only just got home. so then after sending me flying I looked to see the kids here they were shocked tears calling out for their dad as he was thrown to ground kneed on his head dragged by leg and arm dface dragging on cement drive to what turns to gravel and the younger male just kept saying stop resisting arrest and my ex was screaming stop im not resisting just stop my kids are terrifird please just ‘f’ing stop it I called tio the bigger 2 as they were all spread out and my youngest who was beside my car had 2 officers wrestling his dad towards him they just about knocked him over/landed on top of him, I had eneded up opposite sidewhere he stood alone watching until his face turned screaming looking at for me he took off after his dad screaming dadddd daddyyyy daddyyyy I chased him and turned to older two please go round the back jump the fence I don’t know where my keys are im sorry guysthey ran closer to fence watching it was cruel they said why are they hurting him is dad dead why are they doing that cryimh constantly half yelling lost they continued calling dad meanwhile once they got to the driveway back of myy car I heard ex say my kids there watching stop!!! then he heaved sent one officer flying he screamed you fu#*ing dogs now another 4 cop cars and another 2 under cover cars arrived police arrived o car by car kind of every 30 seconds or so my ex then fought harder with the one officer so into the tree rolling in gravel choker holdinghim knocked out two font teeth that were wired in the 2 officers were on him and it wasn’t stopping I grabben branden{2} ran to other 2 big kids well 6 and 7 at the time grabbed their arms please I need your help go to the back please guys go inside and sit my eldest son grabbed branden from me and said yes ok being all following orders to perection, he called come on mim we need to do this I need you mim his sister, they took off out of sight I ran down drive saw Justin saying my teeth he was trying to pick them up and officer kicked the back of his elbow as he was stretching outi screamed stop it that’s enough just stop police were everywhere the road was blocked off witches hats out more officers about run me over in car is said just take hima nd get the fuck out of here, once they had him in position that he couldn’t move face in the stick from gum tree scratches everywhere on his face he was completely pinned hands over his mouth knee in back of the neck and arm squeezing hard tight around throat he was purple red crying arhhhh arhhhh so loud I look up and kids are in the window,,….. I did everything wrong I was scared I panicked ive never seen such violence ever and in heat of the moment know who he is underneath it killed me I was also so angry wich is why I had to say what I wanted…. at this point about 12 -115 offices all standing in circle around him scattered here there few looking at me and I said you assholes why did you do this here WHHHYYY you’ve been following him videotaping him cum and go from his house u knew when he was home or out and could have arrested him at any time but chose to do it here….. whyyyyy look at my kids look what you have all done just take him and everyone go leave us alone as I ran crying inside. they sat out front for what felt like a life time a good half an hour with ex cuffed in gutter directly in front of my loungeroom window so kids could see him in cuffs. me more angry walked out just to my door step and said well for all you others whos just standing around making a scene which one of you would like to come inside and explain to my children why that just happened on our front lawn? few hesitated eye one another off I said I mean it now someone come in here I don’t know what to say or do , so man came in didn’t look sideways at kids wrote there names and ages and walked back ot , so the most viciously intimidating raw emotional gut sickening violence my children have ever seen witnessed heard and felt was from the own police officers, they choose to carry on, they choose to come to my house, they chose to put such an ugly display on knowing my children were watching acattered in the yardscreaming frightened and thinking their hero their dad was being killed right in front of them……… my kids haven’t been able to see him since that night. they ask if hes dead still 2yrold looks for white cars waves hi dad hidadddd ohhh shrugs lokks at ground dad gome {gone} as for police ambulance fire sirens he runs to the sound if driving past no matter where he is he kicks and screams to find it see it and asks is their dad? dad now? no 🙁 they hurt? he should have been dealt with the first time he breeched AVO – NOT LET GO LET GO SO HE BELIEVES HE;S GETTING AWAY WITH IT ALL….EVEN THOUGH I WAS MAKING STATEMENT AFTER STATEMENT,,,, the first time only because I bribed? or threatned? at 5 am in morning after I came home and he was indside my house I rang told them I wouldn’t make a statement again umles something happens right then at 5 am they said we cant but itll b followed up I said no im not making statement then just for my kids wake again to more police officerin my house while I make another statement for officers who wont follow anything up my dad has a policeman friend hell be taking over this case tomorrow suddenly the senior sargent on duty told me gave me his word they had cars out as we spoke looking for him. so that time the first time at all he was charged with breaking the Avo with over 120 counts second time was 80 something breeches and third time was now we got told 20 more days in the court room by judge that was nearly 2 months ago but over 4 months in prison this time the third and final time.

    imdisgusted left picking up pieces and ringint police all the time to know whats going on as no one NOOOO ONE EVER GETS BACK TO YOU LIKE THEY ALLLLLLLL SAY THEY WILL

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