Children young people and domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is when a grown-up threatens, bullies or hurts another adult in the family. Sometimes it's called domestic violence. And it can happen in any family. It can be very hard to deal with but remember that it's never your fault.

It might not always be obvious if what's happening at home is domestic abuse. But if somebody in your family uses bullying or violence to get another adult to do what they want, that's domestic abuse.

It can include:

  • Physical violence
    Like hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, hair-pulling.
  • Threats
    This includes threatening to hurt you, another person in your family, or a pet. Or threatening to stop money for food or bills.
  • Sexual violence
    Making another person do something sexual when they don't want to or making someone watch sexual material on the internet or television.
  • Controlling someone's finances
    This includes not allowing somebody to spend their own money. Or not giving them money for basic things such as food, nappies for babies, or clothes.
  • Controlling someone's life
    This could include stopping someone from going to work or school.
  • Cultural or 'honour' violence
    This includes being hurt or abused as a punishment for something that's not seen as culturally acceptable by your community or family. It can include being forced to marry someone.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend is under 16 and is being abusive, this is relationship abuse

Find help and support

What to do if you feel unsafe

There are important things you can do when you’re feeling unsafe:

It can be hard to know who to talk to when you're feeling unsafe at home. But Childline is able to support you when you need it.

You could try talking to an adult you trust, like someone in your family or a friend's parents or carers. It can be hard to talk in person, but it can help to send a message to tell someone you need to talk. You could also talk to your GP if you're able to.

You can call a Childline counsellor any time for free on 0800 1111 or speak to a counsellor online using 1-2-1 chat.

It can be scary talking when you're stuck at home. If you don't need to talk straight away, sometimes it can be safer to send a message from your locker. We'll usually reply within a day.

In an emergency, you should always call 999.

If someone at home is hurting you, it can help to make a plan of how you can stay safe. Sometimes this can mean:

  • making sure you’re not alone with that person
  • avoiding them when they’ve been drinking or they’re angry
  • staying in your room or somewhere in the house that feels safe.

If someone’s hurting you, it’s never your fault. If something’s happened and you’re not sure if you can stay safe, then you should phone Childline on 0800 1111 or the police on 999.

A safety plan can help you know what to do if you feel unsafe at home. It can help to make one if you’re worried about being hurt or if you think something might go wrong. A safety plan includes all of the information you’ll need in an emergency.

It’s important to talk to someone you trust or to Childline when you’re making a safety plan.

Your plan could include:

  • who to call - this could be an adult you trustChildline or the police
  • safe places you can stay if you have to leave home, and a plan of how to get there if you need to travel
  • things you’ll need in an emergency, like medication or a phone charger
  • what to do if you’re caring for someone else

If something happens and you need to leave home, it's important to talk to the police. Telling them you've left home and don’t feel safe by phoning them on 999 is the best way you can get the support you need.