What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse describes violence or abuse used by one person over another within intimate relationships or families. This includes all threatening, controlling, coercive, bullying or violent behaviours. Domestic abuse typically escalates in both frequency and severity over time.
Children may experience domestic abuse directly themselves, or through being exposed to the domestic abuse of another person. Both experiences have adverse impacts on a child’s life. For example, it can negatively affect their:
- physical and mental wellbeing
These impacts can often have detrimental long-term effects which extend into adulthood.
Visit the NSPCC Learning website for further information on the types of domestic abuse, and how to recognise and respond to them.
What can sport and activity providers do?
You can play a role in recognising the signs and risks of domestic abuse. By supporting at-risk children and young people and responding appropriately it will let children know that there are other trusted adults in their life that they can turn to for help. Sports coaches must also act as positive role models in their behaviour, conduct and treatment of others at all times.
It is also important not to fall into the trap of victim blaming attitudes, as such approaches exacerbate myths around domestic abuse, retraumatise survivors, and reinforce harmful gender stereotypes.
Responding to concerns about domestic abuse
It may feel as though domestic abuse concerns are beyond your responsibilities or those of the club, or you might not want to get involved with a family issue. However, safeguarding is the responsibility of everyone.
If a child reports a domestic abuse concern, or you suspect there is something wrong at home, the response should be the same as other forms of abuse. It's important to:
- listen carefully to what they're saying
- let them know they've done the right thing by telling you
- reassure them and thank them for trusting you
- tell them you'll take the concern seriously
- not confront the alleged abuser
- explain what you'll do next
- report what the child has told you as soon as possible
The 3 central priorities of any statutory intervention for children living with domestic abuse and violence are:
- to protect the children
- to support the non-abusive partner to protect themselves and the children
- to hold the abusive partner accountable for their violence and abuse
Charlie Webster, Broadcaster and NSPCC Campaigner for Childhood, said:
“Being brought up to minimise your existence, to be told you are stupid and not wanted, makes you believe that are you not good enough, you are unlovable.
"That is the most damaging part of domestic abuse on children because they then carry that belief in everything they do which is the root of possible mental health problems and further trauma.”
If you have a concern that a young person is living with domestic abuse, contact your club welfare officer or the NSPCC helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on the impact of domestic abuse on children and young people, visit NSPCC Learning for insight from the voices of parents and carers.