Children As Domestic Abuse Victims

Children As Victims

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 is a new law that came out last month, which, now recognises that children can be victims of domestic abuse.

Beforehand domestic abuse was only seen between the victim and the abuser, but now the law has recognised that it goes further than this and the whole family can be affected.

A child who sees or hears, or experiences domestic abuse and is related to the person, either being abused or the perpetrator, is also to be regarded as a victim of domestic abuse in their own right.

Abusive behaviour towards a child under 16 is still dealt with as child abuse unless they are ages 16 or over which then moves into domestic abuse.

Act Definition

The act sets out the 1st definition in law of what establishes domestic abuse. This definition goes further than just physical violence. It acknowledges that domestic abuse can be emotional, coercive, controlling or economic. For a victim to fall within this definition, both victim and perpetrator must know each other or be “personally connected”. The definition guarantee that all diverse types of relationships are captured, now including ex-partners and family members.

The definition applies to both genders and is gender-neutral to make sure that all victims and all cases of domestic abuse are gathered. This ensures that no victim is overlooked, and they all get sufficient access to protection and services. The new guidance will have more information on the details of domestic abuse, for example by acknowledging that most victims are women, and most perpetrators are men. The definition of domestic abuse does not extend to paid and unpaid carers unless they are a family member or somehow personally connected.


After a very overdue review The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 now also helps areas such as Extension of coercive control offence, Local authority accommodation duty, Domestic abuse protection orders (DAPOs) and disclosure scheme, Homelessness eligibility, Domestic Abuse Commissioner: duties to co-operate.

Here is the link to The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 legislation

You can also read in more detail about each area of the new legislation here on the Community Care post about The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 written by Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner

Domestic Abuse Hotlines

If you or someone you know needs help, whether they are an adult or child, please contact the domestic abuse hotlines below

Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

Northern Ireland Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline 0808 802 1414

Scotland Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline 0800 027 1234

Wales Live Fear Free 0808 80 10 800

Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327