Written by Tanya Beetham
The 16 Days of Action against domestic violence campaign is an opportunity to reflect on my current doctoral research and the research we do at the Centre. The 16 Days of Action campaign aims to enable conversations and raise awareness in businesses and organisations about how they can better support adult survivors of domestic abuse. Often, workplace infrastructures do not adequately meet the needs of survivors.
The campaign highlights the connection between human rights and tackling domestic abuse. However, what sometimes gets lost in human rights conversations, and in domestic abuse programmes, are the needs of children. It has been argued that if children live in homes where domestic abuse is happening, children should be recognised as victims in their own right, rather than being defined as simply a ‘witness’. In the UK, we have much to learn about how children can best be supported, although the research-base is slowly developing. Domestic abuse services have been significantly affected by consistent Government cuts in funding for social care. Alongside cuts in funding, there is also no national legislation that enables consistent access and routes to service support for children across different local authorities. Consequently, there is somewhat of a postcode lottery for the kind of support that might be offered to children.
Despite a geographically inconsistent picture about what these programmes look like, children do participate in programmes and interventions that are delivered by domestic abuse services. However, we know little about how children experience participating in service support, and children’s views about how services can support them. My previous research involved working with domestic abuse organisation, IDAS to support them to develop their children’s programme. With an aim to centralise children’s views, I interviewed children about their experiences of participating in a programme. The programme was delivered in primary schools, for primary school aged children who had been referred to the domestic abuse service. The children I interviewed also created a ‘Top Tips’ poster, for any adult who works with children who have been affected by domestic abuse. The 16 Days of Action campaign provides an opportunity to share some of the issues children identified as necessary and meaningful ways to talk to them and support them if they are experiencing, or recovering from their experiences of domestic abuse.