“What we want is to make sure that people don't go through what I'm going through ... and we have to understand that even since Luke's death, children have been killed.” - Rosie Batty at Coroner’s inquest into her son’s death August 2014.
Content warning: discussion of family violence
One in four children in Australia are exposed to violence against their mother. These young people, in addition to witnessing acts of violence, live in conditions of stress and uncertainty. Recent studies have concluded that children who grow up in an environment where violence is being perpetrated against their mother don’t just witness domestic violence but truly experience it . Indeed, witnessing domestic violence is a form of violence itself, and one that many children in Australia find themselves in.
However, children are affected by domestic violence in more ways than witnessing it.
A recent NSW report found that over the last ten years, 238 homicides in NSW occurred in a domestic violence context. Out of that number, 55 were children, with the vast majority of those - 96 per cent - killed by a parent. Half of all child victims were under two years of age.
Children can be harmed when they intervene to protect their mother, and are more likely to be physically and sexually abused in households where there is already domestic violence.
Research indicates that there is an increased risk of mental health issues, as well as behavioural and learning difficulties resulting from childhood exposure to domestic violence. Additionally, children who grow up in a home affected by domestic violence are more likely to commit or experience violence as adults.
There are currently around 44,000 young people who are homeless in Australia - 40% of the total homeless population. For these children who find themselves homeless, domestic violence is the principal cause.
PRAY ABOUT IT
God our Father, we cry out to you on behalf of children who witness and experience domestic and family violence. We ask for intervention and safety.
Your Son Jesus said ‘let the little ones come to me.’ And so we pray now that each of these children will find comfort, protection, healing, and justice in you Lord Jesus.
Help us to recognise at risk children in our own communities. Place wise and skilled people in their lives – counsellors, social workers, youth workers, teachers, and pastors – who can provide strength and support through their fear and distress.
God, knowing that these children encounter intense physical and emotional trauma at the hands of ones they love, we ask that you would draw close to and comfort them. Heal their wounds. Free them from fear. Deliver them from evil. Amen
Australian Childhood Foundation - For information of the different types of domestic abuse that children experience and are affected by.
1800 RESPECT - information on children and domestic violence
“How ‘Disney Dads’ Are Making Life Hell For Their Partners” - Financial abuse and its effects on children