chapter  9
19 Pages

‘Could have helped but they didn’t’

The formal and informal support systems experienced by children living with domestic violence
ByAudrey Mullender, Gill Hague

The frequent silencing of children’s voices has been further magnified in relation to domestic violence. This is due, first, to the traditionally sanctioned ‘legitimacy’ of the abuse of women by their husbands so that what is seen as ‘normal’ does not count (see Dobash and Dobash, 1979; Hague and Malos, 1998) and, second, to the emphasis on direct physical and sexual abuse as opposed to the trauma of living with domestic violence (Farmer and Owen, 1995). Over the past decade, the realisation has begun to grow that living with abuse can be as damaging as experiencing it directly ( Jaffe et al., 1990; Mullender and Morley, 1994; Hester et al., 2000), though this was initially greeted with a tendency to regard the children involved as ‘silent witnesses’ or ‘passive victims’ (terms frequently used in conference titles, for example).