Submission on Domestic Violence into Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Defence and Equality

Barnardos. (2013). Submission on Domestic Violence into Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Defence and Equality.
Barnardos welcomes the opportunity to feed into the discussions of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on the theme of domestic violence and sexual violence. Barnardos is pleased that the Committee is exploring this issue again. Despite some legislative developments in this area, via the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, further reform is required in the interests of protecting victims and children from continuous harm. 2 The link between domestic violence and child abuse is well established, where children can be the victims themselves or experience the trauma of being a witness to the abuse. For children living with domestic violence or having experienced sexual abuse, their lives are often filled with feelings of confusion, isolation and shame. Also feelings of guilt that they have caused it or could have prevented it as well as fear and dread just waiting for it to happen again. The most common impact identified by children themselves was living in fear and intimidation on a daily basis, resulting in behavioural problems and aggressiveness1 . It can impact on all aspects of their lives: developmental delays, physical scars, behavioural and emotional problems, poor school performance and impaired social and relationships development. In the majority of cases, the abuser is well known to the child and this breach of trust can often have a long term negative impact on the child. Unsurprisingly, coping with domestic violence impacts on a parent’s parenting ability, sometimes being physically unable to attend to their child’s needs or being emotionally detached to their child and this can damage the relationship between the parent and child. Also older children may end up assuming parenting duties for their younger siblings. Being exposed to domestic violence, can also feed its intergenerational nature as children learn from their parent’s actions and accept that violent behaviour, in its various forms, is the norm in all intimate relationships.