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Children & Young People

Children can experience both short and long term cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects as a result of experiencing 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 experiencing 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

  • They may develop 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.

More information to help children and young people understand domestic abuse is available from 

Trafford provide a range of emotional support sessions for children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse. The team of children and family workers provide emotional, practical and resettlement support, to all of their families residing in their refuge accommodation and in the surrounding community. They welcome all families and can provide trauma-informed one-to-one support for children, or family-focused tailored support, and engaging children’s group programmes.

Trafford’s accommodation offer for children is a range of person-centred support that is individualised to each child’s needs. This can include play sessions and one-to-one sessions. There is also support for the whole family and assistance with obtaining education places to parenting issues and complex needs of families. The support is aimed at rebuilding parent and child relationships after domestic abuse and empowering families to thrive.

Trafford have partnered with a Manchester theatre company to deliver a Domestic Abuse and teenage relationship abuse, specific drama performance for years 9, 10 and 11 students in Trafford Secondary Schools. Trafford Domestic Abuse Services deliver training to school staff, prior to the drama performance, to enable them to recognise young people at risk of domestic abuse, teenage
relationship abuse and how to respond to Operation Encompass notifications appropriately.

More information to help children and young people understand domestic abuse is available from 

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