Samantha De Bono Counselling Bromley

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Domestic Abuse and the Children

By Samantha De Bono

Did you know that Domestic Violence is a far greater cause of ill health in women than smoking, high blood pressure and obesity? It's true! and that's just the female victims, what about the children and the male victims? Why aren't the Powers That Be doing more?

When we think of Domestic Violence, we usually automatically look to men as the perpetrators and it is a fact that 1 in 4 women experience violence from their partner, but 1 in 7 men do too.

What causes Domestic Violence do you think? Obviously, this is just a blog and this subject is huge, but in brief, power and control is a major factor, but what causes that need for power and control, where does that start? What about the Psychosocial factors? poverty, lack of emotional and social support, housing problems, these factors contribute to our self belief systems, how we see ourselves and the part we play in society, negative psychosocial development breeds issues such as low self esteem and a lack of self worth which we carry into adulthood, and if cycles aren't broken, we continue to live our lives in that belief system.

If a child is caught up in a household where he/she witnesses or is aware of violence, it isn't difficult to understand how that child's development is going to be affected. Low self worth is going to be the 'gift' that the perpetrators hand to that child, causing greater risk of repeating patterns in later life.

It is estimated that 3 million children in the UK are exposed to violence in the home and this alone is likely to cause mental health problems along with behavioural and educational problems, not to mention the fact that they are far more likely to become perpetrators or victims of domestic violence in adulthood.

I wish counselling was offered to children living in homes where there is, or has been domestic violence. Children tend to take everything inward, they have no way of articulating what they feel and what they fear, they have no control, all this is going on around them and there's nothing they can do about it but try to shut it out. Is it any wonder that many, if not most of these children turn into adults who have no idea how to conduct a relationship?

A lot of the concentration seems to be on female victims of Domestic Violence. Don't get me wrong, of course this is vital, but if there were government programmes in place that were more geared to looking at Psychosocial factors like the ones I mentioned earlier, we could start treating the cause with a greater chance of breaking cycles of violence.

Counselling should be offered to couples who want to stay together and work at their relationship to avoid breaking families apart. Instead, GP's place patients on impossibly long waiting lists for CBT counselling. It's not good enough, people need more help than this. And the moment there is a sniff of Domestic Violence, children should be given counselling whether they are going through it, or have been through it, not in a social services kind of way, but a safe, confidential space for that child to speak freely.

There's not enough safe help out there for children or adults who are trapped in this cycle, yet nobody's showing them a better way. The systems we have in place right now tend to confirm that authority is hostile and that it's probably best to internalise your problems than to share them.

The Government should be doing more!