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Parenting and domestic violence. What I need to grow up. Learning outcomes. To understand that development is a dynamic process shaped by historical and current interactions between child, family and environment. Children’s voices.

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parenting and domestic violence

Parenting and domestic violence

What I need to grow up

learning outcomes
Learning outcomes
  • To understand that development is a dynamic process shaped by historical and current interactions between child, family and environment

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

children s voices
Children’s voices

It was the worst part of my life – constantly being shouted at, frightened, living in fear. You will never know what it’s like, thinking that every day could be your last.

(Mullenderet al. 2002)

He tried to get her to drink the bleach, to pour it in her mouth whilst he held her there and when he couldn’t make her, he poured bleach all over her face and hair. He was trying to kill her.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

domestic violence
Domestic violence

Domestic abuse (as gender-based abuse) can be perpetrated by partners or ex-partners and can include physical abuse (assault and physical attack involving a range of behaviour), sexual abuse (acts which degrade and humiliate women and are perpetrated against their will, including rape) and mental and emotional abuse (such as threat, verbal abuse, racial abuse, withholding money and other types of controlling behaviour such as isolation from family and friends).


P7 Parenting and domestic violence


Domestic abuse is most commonly perpetrated by men against women. The existence ofviolence against men is not denied, nor is the existence of violence in same sex relationships, nor other forms of abuse, but domestic abuse requires a response which takes account of the broader gender inequalities which women face.

In accepting this definition, it must be recognised that children are witness to and subjected to much of this abuse and there is a significant correlation between domestic abuse and the mental, physical and sexual abuse of children.

(Scottish Government 2008 p.9).

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

national domestic abuse delivery plan for children and young people
National Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan for Children and Young People



Prevention through Education.


(Scottish Government 2008)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

call to end violence against women and girls 2011
Call to end violence against Women and Girls (2011)

Key goals:

  • To prevent such violence from happening by challenging the attitudes and behaviours which foster it and intervening early where possible to prevent it;
  • to provide adequate levels of support where violence does occur;
  • to work in partnership to obtain the best outcome for victims and their families; and
  • to take action to reduce the risk to women and girls who are victims of these crimes and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

(HM Government 2011)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

domestic violence can include
Domestic violence can include

Threats of physical violence ,even though no actual physical force occurs.

Physical violence (such as shoving, hitting, kicking, head-butting, burning, choking).

Being forced to have sex.

Mental/emotional/psychological cruelty such as name calling, isolation from family and friends, deprivation of family income, being prevented from leaving the home, damage to pets or other personal items.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

domestic violence can include1
Domestic violence can include

Using and abusing children in various ways to frighten or force compliance. 

Forced marriage.

Female genital mutilation and so-called honour-based violence.

Elder abuse when committed within the family or by an intimate partner.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

scale of the problem
Scale of the problem

There were 59,847 incidents of domestic abuse recorded in 2011-12.

The overall number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police in Scotland in 2011-12 was 1,139 per 100,000 population.

Incidents with a female victim and a male perpetrator represented 81% (46,439) of all domestic abuse incidents in 2011-12 where this information was recorded.

(Scottish Government 2012)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

underlying determinants
Underlying determinants



Parental substance misuse.

Neglect in childhood.

Mental illness.

Social capital and support.

Domestic violence in childhood.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

divorce does not necessarily protect children
Divorce does not necessarily protect children

Survey of 130 abused mothers (148 children).

Of those families where the child was ordered by courts to have contact with an estranged parent: 36% neglected during contact; 62% emotionally harmed.

(Radford and Hester 2006)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

contextualising domestic violence
Contextualising domestic violence

The Battering Cycle

(Browne & Herbert 1997)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

parenting capacity
Parenting Capacity

Domestic violence can have significant impactof parenting capacity:

lack of emotional warmth;

parents can be emotionally unavailable;

inconsistent and unpredictable care environment;

pre-occupation with the intimate relationship;

increased levels of irritability, hostility, rejection and aggression;

increased risk of parental mental health and parental substance misuse;

physical exhaustion and low self esteem often overwhelms the mother’s capacity to parent effectively;

increased likelihood of anxiety and social isolation.

(Calder 2004; Howe 2005)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

contextualising domestic violence from a child s perspective
Contextualising domestic violence from a child’s perspective

“You’re like, you know, just spinning all the time”

Adapted from Browne & Herbert (1997)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence


Children who live in households where their mothers are abused by partners or ex-partners are significantly affected and experience considerable distress.

Clear and irrefutable link between presence of domestic violence and child maltreatment.

There is an impact on parenting abilities.

Jeopardises a child’s developmental progress and personal abilities, contributing to cycles of adversity.

Disrupts broader family functioning and the home environment.

(Buckley 2007)

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

living with domestic violence
Living with domestic violence

Children may:

  • be in same room when the incident is taking place;
  • hear events as they unfold from another room;
  • witness physical damage to an adult or property following an incident;
  • be hurt accidentally while trying to intervene;
  • be used as a pawn to bargain or threaten with, particularly post separation;
  • become the direct subject of abuse, which may be physical, sexual, or emotional or a combination of these.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

living with domestic violence1
Living with domestic violence

And the effects on children:

disruptive behaviour; difficulties at school;

sleep disturbances;

bed wetting and nightmares;;

guilt, confusion, sadness, self blame;

depression, resentment, anger;

physical injury;

sense of loss;

children as carers;

post-traumatic stress disorder.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

impact of domestic violence on children
Impact of domestic violence on children

Early brain development

Domestic violence poses a serious risk to the unborn foetus as violence may increase the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, foetal injury and in the worst case death.

Possible impairment of brain development because a child responds to a violent environment by becoming hypersensitive to external stimuli, hyper vigilant and being in a persistent stress-response state .

Attachment processes

A child’s healthy attachment development is dependent on his or her needs being met consistently by a sensitive and consistent caregiver. The existence of violence, aggression and hostility within the family situation can cause serious disruption to this process.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

impact of domestic violence on children1
Impact of domestic violence on children

Physical effects

Increased risk of physical injury, physical neglect, failure to thrive and ill health due to increased levels of stress and anxiety.

Impact on brain development.

Development of fine and gross motor skills may be impeded due to parents’ reduced levels of providing safety and stimulation.

Developmental delay.

Social and emotional effects

Witnessing violence will increase levels of fear, including unpredictable fear, terror, anxiety, trauma, stress and poor self esteem.

Increased risk of the child experiencing post traumatic stress disorder.

Hostility and rejection increases risk of child feeling unworthy and unloved.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence

impact of domestic violence on children2
Impact of domestic violenceon children

Behavioural development

Increased risk of behavioural difficulties, including lower levels of tolerance and increased aggression.

Children may have increased difficulties building and sustaining relationships and poor peer relationships can feature.

Compulsive care giving including for the parent victim and other siblings.

Children may also be withdrawn or engage in attention seeking behaviour.

As the child matures increased risk taking behaviours may feature including substance misuse during adolescence.

P7 Parenting and domestic violence