A large and growing number of Australian children witness domestic violence each year which often has a negative impact on their development. Children who are exposed to or who witness domestic violence are considered to be secondary victims and can be emotionally traumatized as a result.

Children’s exposure to domestic violence includes:

  • Having to hear the violence
  • Use of children as an emotional or physical weapon
  • Forcing children to watch or to take part in the assault
  • Making the child to spy on a parent and report information
  • Using the child as a hostage or withholding access
  • Telling the children that the violence that is occurring is their fault
  • Having to intervene to stop the violence
  • Having to defend a parent from the violence

The aftermath can include:

  • Having to witness the parents being arrested
  • Having to telephone for emergency assistance
  • Dealing with injuries and trauma that is suffered by the victim
  • Having to see the injuries of the parent after the incident
  • Being forced to relocate from family and friends

The actual extent of exposure by children is not well documented as the focus of the investigating authorities has traditionally been on the primary victim of the domestic violence and not on children who are the secondary victims, as well as the fact that most domestic violence incidents are not reported. Regardless of such difficulties there have been estimates by UNICEF suggesting that up to 275 million children witness domestic violence across the globe each year.

Victims of domestic violence call 1800 000 055 or go to www.victimsofcrime.com.au or email: support@victimsofcrime.com.au for support and advice.



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