The principle aim of West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service (WLDAS) Children’s Service is to create a safe and trusting environment in which children are safe from harm. A child in this case is any child or young person aged 0 to 18 years. The service is currently open to anyone living permanently or temporarily in the West Lindsey area who are at risk to domestic abuse and/or whose children are at risk of poor outcomes due to the effects of domestic abuse.
How Can Domestic Abuse Affect Children?
Children who are exposed to domestic abuse often become emotionally distressed and experience persistently high levels of anxiety which they are unable to deal with. Children may also feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless and confused – behaviours which can impact upon their progress, that could potentially hinder their development into later life.
Listed below are just a small amount of ways a child could be changed by domestic abuse within the home;
- Children are denied a positive role model
- Abuse can harm the Parent/child bond
- Children can develop negative core beliefs about themselves
- Children can be isolated from helpful sources of support
- A child’s style of coping and survival may become problematic
- Children can believe that victimization is inevitable or normal and develop rationalizations for the abuse.
What Work Do West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service Child Support Workers Do With Children?
The Child Support Workers in West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service support children and young people with the effects of domestic abuse. Child Support Workers aim to build and maintain relationships based on trust with the children they work with, in order to alleviate isolation, break down barriers, increase confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
Child Support Workers at West Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service currently provide:
- 1 to 1 sessions offering emotional and practical support to children and young people whether the domestic abuse is current or historical.
- Refuge – this includes supporting the child/ren in settling into refuge accommodation, 1 to 1 support as above, establishing school, nursery places etc.
- Sibling/family groups – sibling and family group work is used to build bridges and communication between relationships damaged by domestic abuse.
- Consultation service to other agencies – this has included us sharing our knowledge and resources of domestic abuse to improve outcomes for children.
- Visiting schools to complete preventative work
- Raising awareness through child-focused community events – to publicise the service to as many as possible so they can access support if required.
The statistics below highlight the need for the work of a Child Support Worker as a form of intervention for the family, in order to provide them with practical and emotional support.
- At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic abuse
- Nearly three-quarters of children on the at risk register live in households where domestic abuse occurs
- In 75%-90% of incidents of domestic abuse children are in the same or the next room
The link between child physical abuse and domestic abuse is high with estimates ranging between 30-66% depending on the study
The interventions provided by a child support worker can be crucial in allowing children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse to access support to express and explore their feelings enabling them to move forward in their lives in a safe and productive manner.