The impact of domestic abuse on children’s mental health

One in five young people in the UK experience domestic abuse, which is recognised as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), by the time they reach the age of 18. The mental health impacts can be lifelong. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week this year, we’ve asked our Youth Programme CoordinatorJoanna, a few questions. 

How does domestic abuse impact the mental health of children? 

Experiencing domestic abuse as a child is a trauma that can have lasting impacts into adulthood. Children are individuals and the effects may vary according to a multitude of factors. Children may feel anger, guilt, insecurity, fear, confusion or a complete sense of powerlessness, potentially affecting their relationship and feelings towards both the abuser and the non-abusive parent. 

How do you work with children who experience or have experienced domestic abuse to look after their mental health? 

We aim to support children through a holistic and individualised programme of support, focusing on healthy relationships, managing emotions and dealing with conflict. We adapt our support to the needs of the child and the family, working on developing resilience and building self-esteem.  

How do you look after your mental health? 

I know I cannot pour from an empty cup and so I try to listen and recognise when I need to take some time for myself, prioritising the things that help me to support myself. This can include going for walks, taking a long bath and practising mindfulness.