Family violence is also sometimes called domestic violence. It is any type of violence or abuse within a relationship.
While anyone can be a victim of family violence, usually the violence is perpetrated by a man against women and children.
Family violence may include physical violence, verbal or emotional abuse, controlling or threatening behaviour, sexual or financial abuse.
It is child abuse for a child to suffer any of these types of abuse.
Witnessing family violence - for example between parents - is also damaging. This might include being present and hearing or seeing family violence, or experiencing the aftermath of violence including injuries or property damage inflicted.
All children, including newborn babies, can be very frightened by seeing their caregivers inflict or suffer violence. Seeing and hearing scary behaviour such as yelling or screaming can be very traumatising for a child.
Witnessing family violence can cause a child to suffer long-term impacts.
Family violence threatens a child’s sense of safety and changes the way their brain develops. This can lead to emotional and behavioural problems, as well as developmental delays as they grow.
Get to know the signs of family violence
Symptoms of children witnessing family violence can include:
- symptoms of physical abuse
- problems communicating
- regressing developmentally
- learning problems
- difficulty managing their emotions
- being bullied or bullying others
- increased antisocial behaviour including acting aggressively or destructively
- increasingly anxious or scared
- hurting or inflicting cruelty on animals or other children
- sleeping problems, including nightmares and bedwetting
What you should do about it