Some examples of the ways in which children are exposed to domestic abuse:
All children witnessing domestic abuse are being emotionally abused.
From 31 January 2005, Section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 came into force, which extends the legal definition of harming children to include harm suffered by seeing or hearing ill treatment of others, especially in the home (domestic abuse).
The majority of children and young people witness the abuse that is occurring and in about half of all domestic abuse situations, they are also being directly abused themselves.
A child or young person can experience both short and long term cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects. Each child and young person will respond differently to trauma and some may be more resilient and not exhibit any negative effects.
A child or young person's responses to the trauma of witnessing domestic abuse may vary according to a multitude of factors including, but not limited to, age, race, sex and stage of development. It is equally important to remember that the common effects experienced by a child or young person can also be caused by something other than witnessing domestic abuse and therefore a thorough assessment of a child or young person's situation is vital to ensure appropriate treatment.
Children and young people are individuals and may respond to witnessing abuse in different ways. These are some of the effects described in a briefing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004):