Help for children and young people

Children and young people are both witnesses to domestic abuse in adult relationships and victims of abuse in thier own relationships.

Help for children and young people witnessing abuse

If it is your own child – talk to them.  Be as honest as you can about the situation, without frightening them. Reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that they are not responsible for adult behaviour. Explain to them that abuse is wrong and that it does not solve problems.

If a child you know tells you that they have been abused or have witnessed abuse in their home, here are some guidelines to help you acknowledge their problem with them:

  • Listen carefully to the child and let them tell the story in their own time
  • Reassure the child that they are not to blame for what is happening at home
  • Show the child that you are concerned for them. Try to stay calm and not let the child see how shocked you are
  • Do not promise to keep secrets but explain what you are going to do
  • Use the information below to help you access further help for them

Professional help

Every area is different. Some areas will have specialist domestic abuse services just for children and young people. They may offer specialist therapy, such as counselling or play therapy, and there may be group programmes or one-to-one work. Unfortunately, some areas do not have specialist services and are limited in the extra care they can provide.  To find out if you have specialist services in your area contact the national domestic abuse helpline or visit the WAFE website.

If you do not have specialist services, help may still be at hand through the GP or heath visitors, counselling, or through the young person’s school or the youth service.  Many local Children’s Centres will offer support for young children and their parents.

Further information and advice is available for children at The Hideout.


Domestic Abuse in Young People’s Relationships

Young People can also experience domestic abuse in their own personal relationships.

Young people experience all the same types of domestic abuse as adults and are at greater risk of some, especially forced marriage.  Young people are more likely to think that abusive behaviour is normal, confusing controlling behaviour for caring and are less likely to seek help due to their embarrassment and lack of confidence.

If you are a young person whose boyfriend or girlfriend behaves in a way that makes you feel scared, physically hurts you or makes you do things that you do not want to do, talk to an adult you trust about it.  Your friends may be experiencing the same problems you are so it is not sufficent just to talk to them.  You can speak to someone at school, at a youth centre or ring a helpline.  You can also contact a local domestic abuse service (find their details here).

Further information and advice is available in our GET HELP NOW pages.

Or check out The Hideout and the government’s advice page for young people in abusive relationship: This is ABUSE.

Forced Marriage

If you are worried that you are being taken abroad for a forced marriage there are a number of steps you can take:

  • Speak to someone you trust about your concerns and give them as much of the following information as possible:
    o Your name and date of birth (as it appears on your passport)
    o Your passport number, plus date and place of issue
    o Any contact details for where you are going to be staying and any other relatives you may be visiting
    o The nearest Embassy or High Commission to where you are staying (you can find this information on the Home Office website)
    o Your address and contact details in the UK
    o A recent photograph of yourself
    o Your parents’ names
    o Your departure and expected return dates
    o The details of anyone travelling with you
  • Contact the Forced Marriage Unit on 020 7008 0151 with the above information, as well as details of someone you trust in the UK
  • If you go abroad keep a copy of this information with you

It is against the law to force someone to marry; if you are concerned about yourself or someone else it is possible to take out a court order called a Forced Marriage Order to prevent it from taking place.  The Forced Marriage Unit or local professionals, including solicitors, the police and domestic abuse services can help you with this. 

There is more information in the early warning signs section regarding forced marriage.