A minimum of 750,000 British children and young people a year are witnesses to domestic abuse. Also 62% of children living with domestic abuse are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse, in addition to the harm caused by witnessing the abuse of others.
Every case of domestic abuse is different and children are affected in lots of different ways, depending on their circumstances, personality, the severity of the situation and availability of appropriate support. It is recognised that some children are resilient enough to recover quickly from exposure to domestic abuse; while others may react adversely and require therapeutic intervention to help deal with the trauma and prevent any long-term negative effects.
Children learn from what they experience. They may learn that it is acceptable to use violence or other forms of controlling behaviours. A recent study involving 1395 young people aged 14-18 found that a third of young men and a sixth of young women thought that using violence in intimate relationships was acceptable under certain circumstances.
Children’s immediate reactions may include, but not be limited to overall anxiety and worry, separation anxiety and excessive worry about their safety and the safety of the non-abusive parent/ carer, sleep problems, nightmares, difficulty with concentration, increased hyperactivity, increased anger/aggression, withdrawal, low self-esteem, and confidence.
Between 77% and 84% of children receiving therapy from a Play Therapy UK registrant show a positive change.
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