Domestic abuse - Children and young people

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How are children and young people affected by domestic abuse?

Children who are exposed to domestic abuse may develop serious emotional, behavioural, developmental and academic problems. As children, they may display acts of violence themselves or become withdrawn. They may also become depressed and have low self-esteem, resulting in varying degrees of loneliness, isolation and anxiety. All children are unique and will cope with their experiences in different ways.

Some of the most common observable effects are:

  • Changed sleeping patterns
  • Nightmares
  • Bed wetting
  • Withdrawn or excessively clingy behaviour
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Stress-related illness
  • Depression
  • Aggressiveness
  • Disruptive behaviour
  • Lack of confidence
  • Low self-esteem
  • Suicidal feelings

Other signs may be an inability to concentrate on things they would normally enjoy or they could be reluctant to attend school or become truant, resulting in a decline in academic achievement.

Research shows that those children who are supported and given an opportunity to work through their experiences show the best recovery and go on to form good relationships in adult life.

Health and unhealthy relationship support

Recognising the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships

Children and young people might not always understand that a relationship they are in is unhealthy. If they have been groomed for example, they might believe they are in a healthy relationship. If they have experienced unhealthy or abusive family relationships, they might never have known any different.

This means children and young people might not always speak out about unhealthy relationships. So it's really important that the adults around them are able to spot the warning signs.

For more support visit:

Children overcoming domestic abuse (CODA)

The CODA children's group provided by Bromley Children Project is an evidenced based program, for children who have witnessed abuse against their mother. The groups are to help the children heal after witnessing violence in the home.

There is a mother’s group that runs alongside the children’s group which allows mothers to understand what the children have been learning and discussing.

What to do if you are concerned about a child

If you are concerned about the safety of a child or young person you can contact the Bromley Children and Families Hub together, we can tackle child abuse. If you think that a child or young person under the age of 18 years old is being abused or neglected, please contact us:

Children’s services (Monday to Friday 8:30am - 5:00pm)

  • Phone: 020 8461 7373 / 7379. Out of hours/weekends/public holidays: 0300 303 8671
  • Email: Bromley Children and Families Hub (C&F Hub)

If you are seriously concerned about a child's immediate safety, call 999 and ask for the police.