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If you are a parent

If you are a parent concerned about a child or young person who may be experiencing domestic abuse:

If you are concerned that you or your child are at risk of harm you should contact the police and obtain urgent legal advice.

There is a common myth that Children’s Services (social workers) will automatically place children in care if they come from a home where domestic abuse is happening. This is very rare. Children’s Services, social workers and other professionals have national guidance on their duty to take special care to help safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people who may be living in particularly stressful circumstances, which include families where there is domestic abuse. 

Children’s Services social workers should offer you and / or your children the opportunity of being seen separately from your abusive partner/family member (including in all assessments) with a female member of staff wherever practicable. If they know that domestic abuse is taking place, their priorities should be to: 

  • protect the child/ren;
  • support and empower you to protect yourself and your child/ren;
  • identify the abuser, hold them accountable for their violence and provide them with opportunities to change.

Social workers are trained to support parents and carers in looking after their children. The Family Law Act 1996 permits local authorities to remove the perpetrator from the home where domestic abuse is taking place. They can also help in a number of ways including:

  • Providing you with information about and referral to specialist domestic abuse support services.
  • Providing advice and support to you, your children and the abuser.
  • If your child is judged to be in high need, the family will be allocated a social worker who will arrange an assessment, visit your family and, depending on the outcome of the assessment, provide you with support.
  • Arranging a Child Protection Case Conference to decide how best to help and protect your children.
  • being asked by the court to write supporting statements about what has happened for any criminal and/or civil court proceedings (e.g. if the court needs information to verify that domestic abuse took place).

When you or your children have come from abroad to join your partner and you leave due to domestic abuse, the immigration status of you and your children may need to be clarified. Children’s Services should not dissuade you from leaving a violent home because of fears over your children’s status in this country. You should seek specialist guidance from an adviser approved by the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner.

If you are separating, and need advice and support about making safe arrangements for your children (where they will live, how often they will see the other parent, maintenance, schooling and education) contact your local domestic abuse service (insert link to services in Wales). Further information about Child Arrangement Orders and the Family Courts are available from Rights of Women and Cafcass Cymru.

Signs that your teenager may be in an abusive relationship:

Teenage relationships abuse can be hard to spot for both the young person and the parent. Often young people have ‘romantic’ views of love, little experience of relationships and can be under pressure from a young age to be in relationships.

Some indicators might include:

  • isolation – no longer spending time with you or their usual circle of friends
  • being withdrawn or quieter than usual
  • being angry or irritable when asked how things are
  • anxiety around ‘phone-free time’
  • sudden unexplained personality changes, mood swing and seeming insecure
  • making excuses for a girlfriend/boyfriend
  • physical signs of injury
  • truancy
  • drug and alcohol dependency
  • self-harm/self-injury and suicidal thoughts

Attitudes and behaviours to look out for –

Believing that:

  • they have the right to control others
  • displaying masculinity through physical aggression is okay
  • they have the right to demand intimacy
  • they will lose respect if attentive and supporting to parents/carers
  • men and women are not equal

What you can do to help:

  • talk to them about healthy relationships, e.g. what should they expect
  • talk to them generally – build trust and openness with your teenager
  • model healthy relationships
  • get them specialist support – from local domestic abuse services
  • give them advice on calling ChildLine 0800 11 11
  • give them the Live Fear Free Helpline number 0808 80 10 800

Source:  ‘Do you know if your teenager is in an abusive relationship?’

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