LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain needs to provide children who witness domestic violence with more support to break the cycle of abuse, campaigners said on Wednesday, as the government plans to introduce a law boosting protection for victims.
A proposed bill, announced in March, includes tough measures such as forcing abusers to wear electronic monitoring devices or to attend addiction recovery programs.
“We want more focus on prevention,” Lyndsey Dearlove of the charity Hestia, which is London’s biggest provider of refuges for domestic abuse victims, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“We want to make sure that there is ... proper provision for mental health support for those children who are witnessing domestic abuse so that then going forward they are less likely to experience it in adult life.”
Nearly 2 million people in Britain each year, most of them women, are physically or emotionally abused by their partner or a relative, according to the government.
In a survey of about 2,000 British people, Hestia found that the majority who witnessed domestic abuse as children also experienced it as adults.
“Domestic abuse has become a silent national health epidemic,” Carolyn Harris, the shadow minister for women and equalities said in a statement.
“It destroys people’s lives and children’s futures.”
The bill proposes appointing a dedicated commissioner to scrutinize its actions on domestic abuse. This role should include educating people about healthy relationships, Hestia said.
Reporting by Kevin Mwanza; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.