Domestic Abuse – I thought I could handle it

Domestic Abuse – I thought I could handle it

In 90% of domestic abuse incidents, children are in the same or next room.

At least 750,000 children witness domestic abuse every year.

(Women’s Aid)
Kerry though she could ‘handle it’ – and it took a long time and great deal of harm before she realised that she couldn’t.  No-one could.

Affects of Domestic Abuse from conception to 2:


  1. Unborn baby may be target of attack
  2. Premature birth Stillbirth
  3. Miscarriage
  4. Low birth weight
  5. Poor antenatal care
  6. Baby feels their mother’s fear and anxiety and exhibits signs of stress
  7. Poor health
  8. Difficulty sleeping and settling
  9. Excessive screaming or crying
  10. Frozen awareness (‘bunny in the headlights’)
  11. Insecurity
  12. Slow emotional development
  13. Withdrawn or challenging behaviour
  14. Poor attachments/bonding with parents/others

(‘In Plain Sight: Effective Help For Children Exposed to Domestic Abuse’, 2013, CAADA ( Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse’ )


An estimated 130,000 children in the UK live in households with high risk domestic abuse; that is, where there is a significant risk of harm or death.

6% of all children are estimated to be exposed to severe domestic abuse between adults in their homes at some point in childhood. Thousands more live with other levels of domestic abuse every single day.

Children are at greater risk of direct harm if they are exposed to domestic abuse.  62% of children exposed were also directly harmed.

Exposure to domestic abuse causes serious physical and psychological harm to children.

There is a relationship between the cessation of domestic abuse and cessation of direct harm to children.

(A Place Of Greater Safety’, 2012, CAADA)


66% of victims in our dataset had children living in or visiting the home where domestic abuse was taking place. Most of these children were under 5 and had been living with abuse for the majority of their lives. On average it took those with children a year longer to access support than those without children.

Children who live with domestic abuse are at increased risk of behavioural problems and emotional trauma as well as mental health difficulties later in life.

(‘Kidspeak: Giving Children and Young People a Voice on Domestic Abuse’, 2007, Jackie Barron, Women’s Aid.)


“Domestic violence of any kind is never ok. Sadly, as we have found it doesn’t just end with the act itself when the perpetrator stops – but goes on to have far reaching and a continuous impact on the victim, the children and even the children’s children. Research has shown that many children who grew up in a domestically abusive home grow up either as perpetrators themselves or enablers. We can’t just turn a blind eye any more….the elephant is definitely resident in the room.”

Parents with children often stay and try to make the marriage work because of the children, not wanting children to grow up without a parent.  They don’t want to take the child and move into refuge, and don’t have anywhere else to go with child.  They also fear that they would be unable to financially support themselves and child.

None of these are good reasons to stay in an abusive relationship.  Women’s Aid can help resolve all of those issues and help direct abused women and men to the support they need.

With many thanks to Kerry Caligari for sharing her story.

For video resources to support co-parenting visit

If you feel unsafe at home, call Women’s Aid – details are on their website: