Domestic Abuse and Violence; Impact on Children

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July 8, 2013 By Mary Ajoke Akangbe

I had three topic choices this week and they all centred round women, family or both. I eventually chose this particular one- Domestic Abuse; because of the recent events with the ‘Celebrity Chef and her Husband’ and sadly, the usual trend that follows the initial frenzy that the topic usually generates i.e. FIZZLES out!

“Regardless of whom you are, what you are, and what you have or have not done; everyone deserves to live a life of peace free from fear and intimidation, especially in a relationship. No one should live in fear of the person they love”

Domestic Abuse sometimes referred to as spousal abuse or intimate partner violence, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person; it could be emotional or include threats of physical violence.

Domestic Violence, family violence, or battering is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviours by one partner against another in a relationship such as marriage, dating or cohabitation.

A family Agency in the UK, CAFCASS refers to domestic violence in their policy as a range of violent and abusive behaviours; defining it as pattern of behaviour characterised by ‘misuse of power and control by one person over another within an intimate relationship.

This is a problem that is now almost an epidemic, but rarely addressed or talked about especially amongst Africans. “It is still the belief in some culture that it is alright to hit a woman, when necessary”

Each time there is a high profile case; Activists, Politicians, Media and the general public all get sucked in and opinions usually fly left, right and centre.

By the end of the week though, the story and the issue of domestic abuse and violence dies down until the next time.

Meanwhile two women a week are killed by a current or ex-partner and funding to provide education and support for victims and survivors are being cut.

Anyone can be affected by domestic abuse; irrespective of age, gender, culture or socio-economic status. Women are mostly affected but men are victims too.

Sadly, domestic abuse is not always physical. It can be emotional, psychological or verbal.

Half the time, the women would not press charges, because it is a complex situation to be in(I know the Law has changed on this and the State can prosecute on behalf of the victim in certain situations).

In the midst of all this, are innocent victims who are often caught in the middle~ The Children.

One of the topmost reasons women stay in abusive relationships is ‘for the sake of the Children’ I always say the reason to leave is for the sake of the children. I should know; as a survivor, it took me 10 years to figure out I can’t save a Perpetrator and more importantly bringing up children in such an environment will do them more harm, as it will have lasting damage on them psychologically and emotionally long term.

There is the erroneous belief that a dysfunctional two- parent family is better for children than a single parent household coupled with the stereotypical statistics of the black family.

Ninety per cent of children hear or witness abuse, even when not in the same room. In America alone, over 3.3 to 10 million children are at risk of witnessing domestic violence each year. About 1million children are affected in England and I am still looking to work with Agencies or interested individuals in Africa so we can have true and valid statistics both for victims and children.

The truth though is; not every victim will leave their abuser, which why education and awareness on a consistent and continuous basis is vital, rather than being spurred on by high profile cases as is currently the issue. Structured support for the whole family is also key to Survival and help is available for perpetrators when they come to terms with their actions and ready to embrace the help.

More information, help and support for domestic abuse can be accessed at

Women’s aid and the NSPCC are some of the national agencies that support women and children in abusive relationships.

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