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Children are victims of domestic abuse in their own right

Posted 16/5/2021

When he hit me for the last time splitting my lip open as I held our 10-month-old daughter in my arms, I knew in that very instant things had to change there and then.

Up until 2nd December 2005, I had no one to protect during the abusive relationship I was in but a soon as my daughter came into the world, something inside me just changed.  I became stronger inside, I felt as thought I could take on the world and I would do all I could to protect her.  After all, that was my job as her mother.

My dad couldn’t understand why I could never protect myself from my ex abuser, but he had made me feel so worthless, I felt there was really no pint.  But now I had something so precious who was worth so much more than I was.

I really did think having a baby together would change him, I wanted us to be a family.

The slap was stinging and I could taste blood in my mouth.  How could he do this to me whilst I was holding our daughter in my arms?  I stared at him long and hard, how stupid and wrong I had been to actually think he would change.

I held her closer to me, closed my eyes and kissed the top of her head.  I know I’ve got to change this for you.  And that’s exactly what I did.

I didn’t want her to grow up into the nervous wreck I had become.  I didn’t want her to jump or flinch at the slightest noise she heard.  I didn’t want her growing up worrying or being scared about saying or doing the wrong thing.  I didn’t want her to live her life frightened, scared or full of fear.

Comments such as victims and their children make it sound as though they are exempt from the abuse.  They aren’t.

They can feel that atmosphere and the tension in the home, often blaming themselves for what’s happening behind closed doors.  Even when they are in their own room, they can still hear the screams and shouts.  This behaviour will have a huge impact on them.  Children are victims in their own right.  They will experience emotions the same as adults, they will have to deal with the trauma and the impact that follows.

If I had stayed with my abuser and brought my daughter up in that environment it would have had detrimental effects on her mental health and that wasn’t a risk I was willing to take.  If I had, what kind of mother would that have made me?

On the other hand, if his application for contact and parental responsibility had been granted she would have still been a victim of domestic abuse because he would have manipulated her and blamed me completely.

Children are often very much the silent victim where domestic abuse is concerned, with people thinking if they can’t see it, it doesn’t affect them or how if it’s not affecting them directly then it’s not affecting them at all.  They are like little sponges that soak up everything around them, they are human beings, they are not play things without feeling or emotions.  They need to be believed, heard and listening too just like any other victim of domestic abuse.