What's the Harm? A Child-centred Response to Domestic Abuse

Barnardos. (2016). What's the Harm? A Child-centred Response to Domestic Abuse. https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/316
Domestic abuse is prevalent in Ireland. Due to the often hidden nature of the abuse and limited data available many are blind to its effects, yet its effects are far reaching. Domestic abuse is not just a problem for those experiencing the abuse; their families, friends, health and criminal justice agencies and wider society also shoulder the costs. Children are common, but often unseen, victims of domestic abuse. The scale of harm to children because of domestic abuse in Ireland is unrecorded and the impact underestimated, misunderstood or simply overlooked. Any form of abuse occurring in the home or within the family unit is abuse of the child. Yet our current legislation does not always protect children. Our court system is very adversarial and not child or family friendly, which can compound the stress and trauma of abuse. Therapeutic supports for children who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse are not widely available nor is there a coherent national approach or Government strategy. While the Government has recently announced a national public awareness campaign which is to be welcomed, greater education in schools and for those working in justice, legal, health and social care agencies is needed. In addition, the current housing crisis is having an acute impact on families living with domestic abuse, leaving them with nowhere to turn. All of these problems must be addressed if children are to be protected from harm.