Are you a young person who is affected by domestic abuse or living with an abusive parent?

young boy looking worried

Sometimes it isn’t clear if what is happening at home is domestic abuse. But, if someone living in your home uses bullying, threats or violence, it can make you feel unsafe and could be a sign of domestic abuse. This guide was produced in partnership with Action for Children and Women’s Aid.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is sometimes called ‘domestic violence’ and it can involve an adult threatening, bullying or hurting another adult in their family or who they’re in a relationship with.

Young people can directly or indirectly experience domestic abuse too, as a result of the hurt that an adult is causing another adult in their family.

What are the signs of domestic abuse?

These are common signs of a physically or emotionally abusive relationship (but there could be other things):

  • kicking, punching, hitting  
  • threatening to kill someone or hurt them 
  • controlling behaviour, like telling someone where they can go and what they can wear 
  • controlling someone’s finances by withholding money or stopping someone going to work 
  • making someone feel guilty, criticising them or making them feel small and stopping them from standing up for themselves
  • reading emails, text messages or letters  
  • making someone do something sexual when they don’t want to

Domestic abuse can happen inside and outside of the home, it can happen over the phone or online using the internet or social media. It can happen in any relationship and in any family and can continue once a relationship is over.

If an important adult in your life is acting this way toward another adult who is important to you, you may be feeling frightened, anxious, sad or angry.

It is important to remember that it is not your fault, and that you can ask for help. 

What to do if you're experiencing domestic abuse

If you're living with an abusive parent, talk to someone you trust, only if you feel safe to do so.

  • Childline: call 0800 1111, or sign up so you can online chat and send messages (9am - midnight)
  • The police: if it's an emergency, call 999. If you can't speak, listen to the questions and tap or cough to answer. Press 55 to signal an emergency.
  • Trusted adult: send a message or call someone you trust and let them know you're worried 

If it gets too much or something happens and you feel like you have to leave home it is important that you tell the police that you have gone and the reason why.

You might also want to try and think of a safe place to go to. It is important to remember that during this time it may not be safe to visit elderly grandparents or other people you might normally turn to so you should try and give someone you trust a call or send them a message to let them know where you are and what has happened so they can help you as best as they can.

What to do if someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse

If you are worried that a young person you know is a victim of domestic abuse, either because they are experiencing it in their home or because they are in an abusive relationship with another young person, you should let them know where they can get help and support

What is a refuge?

You might be told that you are leaving home and going to stay in a refuge. A refuge is a safe place where women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse can go and live to keep safe. 

It is likely that if you do go and stay in a refuge it won’t be that close to your home – this is to make sure that you are as safe as possible and to stop the person trying to hurt you from finding you there. The address will be a secret so everyone in the refuge is safe.

Domestic abuse advice and resources