Help for children and young people

Download article Print article
Choose from the index:
The impact of domestic abuse on children and young people

Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on children and young people that can last into adulthood.  

We offer specialist emotional and practical support for children and young people affected by domestic abuse between the ages of 6 and 17. Depending on need, this includes one to one work with a Children’s Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate (CHIDVA) and/or  group work. 

Through TLC we also offer support to young people to end unhealthy behaviours in their relationships.

Children can experience both short and long term cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects as a result of witnessing domestic abuse. Each child will respond differently to trauma and some may be resilient and not exhibit any negative effects. 

Children’s responses to the trauma of witnessing domestic abuse may vary according to a multitude of factors including, but not limited to, age, race, sex and stage of development. It is equally important to remember that these responses may also be caused by something other than witnessing domestic abuse. 

Children are individuals and may respond to witnessing abuse in different ways. These are some of the effects described in a briefing by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2004): 

  • They may become anxious or depressed. 
  • They may have difficulty sleeping. 
  • They have nightmares or flashbacks. 
  • They can be easily startled. 
  • They may complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches and may start to wet their bed. 
  • They may have temper tantrums and problems with school. 
  • They may behave as though they are much younger than they are. 
  • They may become aggressive or they may internalise their distress and withdraw from other people. 
  • They may have a lowered sense of self-worth. 
  • Older children may begin to play truant, start to use alcohol or drugs, begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves or have an eating disorder. 

Children may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless or confused. They may have ambivalent feelings towards both the abuser and the non-abusing parent. 

How to refer?

Children and young people aged 6-17 impacted by domestic abuse can be referred into our service by a professional (e.g. a school, social worker, or a domestic abuse worker who is working with the family) using our referral form>>.

Within 48 hours we will make contact with the main parent/carer to discuss what support we can offer and we will feedback the outcome to the referrer.  

If there are multiple children in the family needing support only one referral form is required.  

To refer a child or young person causing harm, please visit: and complete the online referral.

One to One Support

Our qualified children’s Domestic Abuse workers (CHIDVAs) provide one to one support, usually offered within the school environment. 

Group work

We offer a rolling programme of group interventions for children – the groups are split by age so that the content is always appropriate.   

  • Time 4 You   

Delivered over 8 weeks for 3 different age groups: 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, it explores feelings in an artistic way, educating children about domestic abuse and keeping safe.   

  • Managing Emotions  

For children aged 9-11 and 12-14 years, this 6-week course is designed to help young people who are exhibiting harmful behaviours or beliefs because of their experiences of domestic abuse.   

  • Young Freedom Programme (15-17 years)  

Empowering young people to gain resilience and to protect themselves and others in the future, to change their current situation and recognise their own behaviours, to identify when they are being abused and controlled in their own relationships.  

Supporting young people to end unhealthy behaviours in their relationships.

We also help young people manage feelings of anger and anxiety and have two separate programmes that help young people develop a better understanding of safe, healthy, happy relationships. 

Respect young people’s programme, is aimed at improving relationships between young people and their parents/carers. 

Encouraging Healthy Relationships Programme, is aimed at improving relationships between young people and their partners or siblings. 

 Whichever programme they attend, they’ll always have: 

  • A safe and confidential space to talk about their feelings 
  • Support with their experiences and concerns 
  • Encouragement to end unhealthy behaviours 
  • Guidance to develop healthy forms of communication 

More information can be found here: 


Download article Print article