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Facts and Figures (NSPCC) 

Around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse (Source: Radford, L. et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today). 
Domestic abuse is a factor in over half of serious case reviews (Source: Sidebotham, P. et al (2016) Pathways to harm, pathways to protection: a triennial analysis of serious case reviews 2011 to 2014: final report). 
A third of children witnessing domestic violence also experienced another form of abuse (Source: Radford, L. et al. (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK. NSPCC. As cited by Radford, L.; Aitken, R.; Miller, P.; Ellis, J.; Roberts, J. and Firkic, A. (2011) Meeting the needs of children living with domestic violence in London. London: NSPCC/Refuge). 
1 in 5 teenagers have been physically abused by their boyfriends or girlfriends (Source: Barter et al (2009) Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships. NSPCC and Bristol University) . 
130,000 children live in households with high-risk domestic abuse (CAADA 2012). 
Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to have behavioural and emotional problems. 

Domestic Abuse and Risk to Children 

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: 
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. 
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”  
This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group. 
(Provided by HM Government) 

Types of Harm Caused to Children in the Context of Domestic Abuse 

The NSPCC Information Service collated the findings of Serious Case Reviews following child deaths in the context of domestic abuse and violence. To access the briefing "Domestic abuse: learning from case reviews: Summary of risk factors and learning for improved practice around families and domestic abuse" CLICK HERE 

Child abuse in the Context of Domestic Violence and Abuse 

There is a difficulty in measuring this as the greater amount of relevant research focuses on violence perptrated by one partner (usally male) to the other (usually female). There is less empirical data with regard to coercive and controlling behaviour or other forms of maltreatment of intimate partners. 
A notable finding however is that mild and severe violence to women was accompanied by threats to do greater harm to the women, such as sexual assaults and acts of coercin. The children of these abused women were potentially exposed to different forms of psychological maltreatment several times a week, in addition to frequent mild and severe violence. 
It is therefore sensible to understand violence as existing along a continuum and the less severe forms of maltreatment can be as harmful as severe forms of violence if repeated often enough. In assessing risk to the child from exposure to violence and abusive behaviour, the assessor needs to include in their inquiry a range of abusive behaviours, not just overt physical violence but also frequency of the behaviours and whether the abusive or violent acts are experienced by the child directly or indirectly (whether they see it, hear it or just know about it). 
Whilst it can be assumed with some confidence that abusers of intimate partners cause intentional harm, it is less clear to what extent they intend to harm the children that witness the abuse. Children are sometimes used as a means to coerce the intended victim and pregnant women who are subjected to violence frequently report that their abdomen, and hence the unborn child, were attacked by the perpetrator. Pregnancy is a notable trigger for domestic violence incidents. 
Many children that witness inter-adult violence are injured either directly (intentionally) or indirectly (unintentionally) during a violent episode. It is often difficult to sort out the abuse of the child from the abuse of the adult. One way of doing so is to identify the role of the child in the interpersonal violence, including wheter the child tried to stop the violence, tried to call the police, or attempted to protect family members. Children are more likely to be abused when they try to intervene. Older children and girls have been found to be most at risk for abuse by the father. 
Both women described how her husband became increasingly controlling., particualrly after they became pregnant. One described how her husband isolated her from friends and family and almost convinced her that she was mad and ensured that other people did not believe her. The other man made constant derogatory remarks about the woman, her looks, her clothes and eroded her self esteem and confidence. 
Threats to abduct the children were also used by one of the men who was also physically violent. 
One of the men was exclusively psychologically abusive and coercive. The other used a knife to threatne his wife, actually holding it to her stomach, he banged her head against a wall and poisoned her with drugs. 
The woman that was poisoned not only had a direct threat to her own health but also to that of her unborn child. The threats to abduct the children were mechanisms by which he sought to control his wife but any abduction would have been distressing for the children also but the children are being used offensively by the father to threaten and punish the mother. 
The Practitioner explained that Domestic abuse effects the emotional and social development of children and can be very frightening, leading to long term emotional and psychological difficulties. One of the women described how her son became aggressive towards her as he mimicked his fa's behaviour. To make to her husband finally leave, she needed a Police presence which may also have been frightening for the children. 


 Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix  

Barnardo’s tool for assessing the risks to children from male to female domestic violence Download HERE 
Download Guidance Notes HERE 

Safe Lives (Formerly CAADA): Resources for identifying the risks victims face. 

Safelives is national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Their website is an excellent source of information and resources for identifying risks and supporting victims of domestic abuse. Visit 
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