This section will mainly focus on domestic abuse and children as this is the form of violence against women most likely to affect them. There is a specific section on this site which covers issues young people may face in their own relationships.
- Supporting your child/ren
If you’re a survivor with children you have probably tried to shield them from the abuse as much as possible but talking to children about what’s happening can help them to feel less powerless, confused and angry. Below is some advice to help you. If you have any concerns or worries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a local service for support.
1. Do talk to your children – and listen to them. Most children will appreciate an opportunity to acknowledge the abuse and to talk about what they are feeling.
2. Try to be honest about the situation, without frightening them, in an age appropriate manner. Reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that they are not responsible for adult behaviour.
3. Explain to them that abuse is wrong and that it does not solve problems.
4. Encourage your children to talk about their wishes and feelings. You could do this perhaps by doing an activity together, or encouraging them to draw or write about what is happening and how they feel about it. Your child’s teacher may be able to help you with this. Sometimes children will wait until they feel safe and are no longer in the violent environment before they start to talk about their feelings.
5. Tell them where to get more information. You could suggest that your children look at the Women’s Aid website for children and young people, The Hideout. This website has information, activities, a quiz and stories of children living with domestic abuse. Dundee Women's Aid also has a section with information about the children's service (see below)
6. Teach them how to get emergency help. Show them how to dial 999 but make sure they are aware that they aren’t responsible for protecting you if you are being attacked.
7. Praise them. Help to boost their self esteem by regularly giving them praise, attention and affection.
8. Ask for help. Demonstrate that asking for help is a good thing – do it yourself so your children can see there is nothing to be ashamed of. You may believe it is best for your children if you try to keep the family together in order to provide the security of a home and father. However, children will feel more secure and will be safer living with one parent in a stable environment than with two parents when the environment is unstable and abusive.
- Child contact and legal support
Going to court can be a daunting experience but there are rules the court has to follow in cases concerning children and domestic abuse. If you have a legal problem you should seek proper legal advice. The Scottish Women's Rights Centre is a good source of information.
- Children's Rights
Children's Rights - for information on children's rights around child contact and domestic abuse see link
- The New Law
Since 1 April 2019, coercive and controlling behaviour against a partner or ex-partner is a criminal offence in Scotland. The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 doesn't consider domestic abuse as a one-off incident, but as a pattern of control, intimidation and humiliation.
The new law recognises that children are not simply “witnesses” to incidents of physical violence; they are impacted by a range of coercive behaviours including financial control and isolation. Abusers may also threaten to harm children as a way of controlling their mother, or they may force or manipulate children and young people to take part in the abuse.
The Act recognises the harm to children through an aggravator which can impose harsher penalties if the abuser:
directs behaviour at or involves the child in carrying out the abuse; is abusive in the presence of a child; if a reasonable person would consider that the abusive behaviour is likely to negatively affect a child living with the abuser and/or the adult victim.
The Act also helps to make visible the abuser’s behaviour as the source of harm and risk to children. This is important because professionals sometimes identify abused mothers as at fault for “choosing” an abusive partner, for “failing to protect”, or for remaining in abusive relationships.
This perception fails to understand the dynamics of domestic abuse (including that leaving an abuser is a particularly dangerous time for women and children), wrongly places blame on women, and renders the abuser’s actions invisible. The aggravator reinforces that the impact of domestic abuse on a child should be understood as a consequence of the abuser’s actions and choices rather than the non-abusing parent “failing to protect”.
While the Act does not go as far as including children as victims in their own right, the aggravator is important for raising awareness more widely of how children can be impacted by domestic abuse beyond physical violence. This includes raising awareness amongst children themselves; children may not identify coercive control as abuse, or even that their experiences aren’t “the norm”, resulting in them being far less likely to seek help and support.
The Act is also important when it comes to professionals’ understanding of supporting children affected by domestic abuse. Focusing only on physical violence or whether a child has seen or heard abuse does not accurately reflect children’s lived experience and can lead to inappropriate interventions.
- Child witnesses
For information on support for child witnesses see link
In the future - The Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Bill, currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament, creates a new rule that child witnesses in solemn cases will pre-record their evidence in advance of a trial for a number of offences, including murder and sexual offences. There was strong support during the Justice Committee’s Stage 1 hearings for the list of offences in the Bill to be extended to domestic abuse cases.
Children in these cases would generally no longer have to give evidence in court, but would instead have their evidence pre-recorded ahead of the trial. This would end their involvement in the trial sooner and allow for quicker recovery.
- Safe and Together approach
Safe and Together is the approach being adopted in Dundee towards domestic abuse and child protection. The S&T framework is based on Three Principles (or assumptions) that are used to guide Practice, Policy and Collaboration:
1. Keeping children safe and together with non-offending parent – to maximise safety, stability and healing from trauma, it is in the best interest of the children to keep them safe and together with non-offending parent
2. Parenting with non-offending parent as a default position – is the most effective and efficient way to promote safety, permanency and wellbeing for children
3. Intervening with perpetrators to reduce risk and harm to children – child welfare can improve positive outcomes for children by increasing their capacity to effectively engage and intervene with domestic violence perpetrators.
- Services for children and young people affected by VAW
Dundee Women’s Aid Children and Young People's Service - work individually with a child or young person, becoming their key worker. The key worker uses issue based resources to work through feelings, recording this in the child or young person's individual journey (Support Plan). The key worker offers a safe and consistent place to discuss/work through feelings.
The key worker collates all the supporting documentation and makes a "My Journey" book at the end of support. The book contains the child or young person's safety plan, support plan, evidence of sessions (outcomes covered) photographs, evaluations and art work. The book is then theirs to keep and look back at in times of need. It also gives their mother/care giver a chance to look through and discuss the issues that have been covered. There is a clear start, middle and end to support by using the journey. Children and Young People are very proud of their Journey books.
DWA deliver age appropriate focused group programs lasting 8 weeks. The program covers the topics that are most prevalent in young people's lives in Dundee; bullying, domestic abuse, healthy relationships, friendships, conflict, equality and gender roles. During sessions the Children and Young People realise that they are not alone and are able to seek support, strength and understanding from their peers. This supports them in building strong positive relationships.
DWA deliver family work which highlights the effects of domestic abuse and provides a therapeutic support system for the family to recover and develop more positive relationships.
Information Sessions for parents
The CYP support workers hold information sessions for parents to cover the effects on children and young people when they have experienced domestic abuse and the effect this can have on their behaviour. Using the Solihull approach support workers will share this information in a supportive and contained way to help the mums understand why their children may be behaving in a certain way.
School Drop-in service
The CYP team provide drop-in service in high schools. At present Support Workers assist the health drop-in's but intend to start their own drop in service. This will allow Children and Young People to access support in a confidential safe space. Due to the stigma that can be associated with domestic abuse we hope this will allow more young people to seek the support and guidance they need.
WRASAC Days - This service is offered to you if you are a young survivor, of any gender and you are aged from 11 to 18 living in Dundee. We offer confidential, professional support if you have experienced any type of sexual violence. Sexual violence or abuse includes any sexual act which you did not want or has left you with difficult feelings. It can include rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation, sexual bullying, grooming, and sexting, amongst other things.
For more information see following link
This is a new service for mum's and children who have experienced domestic abuse which has been launched in 2022. Please see link for more information. Please also click on this link for an information leaflet about the service.