Action for Children responds to Royal Assent of Domestic Abuse Bill
For child victims of domestic abuse, the success of this Act will depend on whether they actually receive specialist support to recover from the trauma they've experiencedImran Hussain, director of policy and campaign
Ahead of the Domestic Abuse Bill receiving Royal Assent, Action for Children’s director of policy and campaigns, Imran Hussain, said:
"After a year of lockdowns and a huge rise in cases (1), this law can’t come soon enough for the nearly 800,000 children and young people living in the terrifying shadow of domestic abuse in England alone" (2).
The government’s shift on this issue has been a welcome and significant one. This Act lays the foundations to reshape how society responds to domestic abuse, following the successful campaign to ensure it recognises children of domestic abuse for what they are – victims, and not just witnesses.
Far from having a safe and happy childhood, every day our staff see the emotional scars of domestic abuse on children – from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, flashbacks and bed-wetting to depression, or even wanting to end their lives. Yet the vast majority never receive any of the specialist help they need to recover (2).
For child victims of domestic abuse, the success of this Act will depend on whether they actually receive specialist support to recover from the trauma they’ve experienced. Our report (3) highlights that such dedicated help for children is patchy, piecemeal and precarious.
While councils across England will now be legally required to provide support services to children if they’re living in a refuge, no such requirement will exist for the majority of child victims, who live at home. We’re pleased ministers have agreed to consult on fixing this, but it could months or years before these children get the same urgently-needed help.
Notes to editor
(1) In the first seven weeks of lockdown, every 30 seconds there was a call to the Police about domestic abuse (joint Panorama and Women’s Aid investigation): Domestic abuse surged in lockdown, Panorama investigation finds | Domestic violence | The Guardian
A Perfect Storm (Women’s Aid):-
- Domestic abuse has got worse during lockdown (women reported that the abuse they experienced got worse during the pandemic)
- Lockdown restrictions and the fear of spreading Covid-19 made it more difficult for women to seek support/leave their abuser during lockdown (over three-quarters of survivors surveyed living with the perpetrator said they could not leave or get away because of the pandemic).
- Half of the survivors surveyed with children who were currently experiencing abuse said their children had witnessed more abuse towards them
- The National Domestic Abuse Helpline saw lockdown surge:In June 2020, calls and contacts were nearly 80% higher than usual (Refuge): Coronavirus: Domestic abuse helpline sees lockdown surge - BBC News
(2) Children’s Commissioner - cco-childhood-in-the-time-of-covid.pdf (childrenscommissioner.gov.uk)
(3) Action for Children: ‘Patchy, Piecemeal and Precarious’
Action for Children protects and supports vulnerable children and young people by providing practical and emotional care and support, ensuring their voices are heard and campaigning to bring lasting improvements to their lives. With 476 services in communities across the country, the charity helps more than 370,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers a year. actionforchildren.org.uk