Action for Children responds to Royal Assent of Domestic Abuse Bill

Ahead of the Domestic Abuse Bill receiving Royal Assent, Action for Children’s director of policy and campaigns, Imran Hussain, said:

After a year of lockdowns and a huge rise in cases, this law can’t come soon enough for the nearly 800,000 children and young people living in the terrifying shadow of domestic abuse in England alone.

The government’s shift on this issue has been a welcome and significant one. This Act lays the foundations to reshape how society responds to domestic abuse, following the successful campaign to ensure it recognises children of domestic abuse for what they are – victims, and not just witnesses.

Far from having a safe and happy childhood, every day our staff see the emotional scars of domestic abuse on children – from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, flashbacks and bed-wetting to depression, or even wanting to end their lives. Yet the vast majority never receive any of the specialist help they need to recover. 

For child victims of domestic abuse, the success of this Act will depend on whether they actually receive specialist support to recover from the trauma they’ve experienced. Our report highlights that such dedicated help for children is patchy, piecemeal and precarious.

While councils across England will now be legally required to provide support services to children if they’re living in a refuge, no such requirement will exist for the majority of child victims, who live at home.  We’re pleased ministers have agreed to consult on fixing this, but it could months or years before these children get the same urgently-needed help.