Figures released this week by Women’s Aid showed that a growing number of children were being attacked while their mothers were victimised by a partner.
The charity reported 16,200 counts of physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of women in 2012, with 3,230 disclosing a child was targeted in the home – up from 2,076 in 2011.
Another 1,211 children had witnessed horrific abuse and violence against their mothers, including rape.
Majella Foley Friel, Training Development Coordinator with Adapt said: “Instead of preserving children’s innocence, this behaviour is exposing them to brutality and can be extremely frightening. It normalises these behaviours and puts the children in an extremely vulnerable position,” she said.
Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin, said domestic violence is a serious crime that remains hidden and minimised.
“In 2012, women told us on 3,230 occasions that their children were being hit, including with household items, smacked, constantly shouted at, and in some cases, sexually abused,” she said.
“Children have witnessed their pets being abused, kicked and thrown against walls.
“At times, the perpetrator of the abuse has deliberately targeted the children as a way to hurt both them and their mother.”
The charity warned that the more severe the violence against the mother, the higher the risk of abuse against the children in the home.
The report found that six out of ten had been living with abuse for more than six years and only 7 per cent of women got support in the first year of an abusive relationship.
Ms Martin revealed women reported being a prisoner in their own home, spat on, slapped, kicked, held down and strangled and beaten with household items, with some beaten and raped during pregnancy.
To contact ADAPT Domestic Abuse Services in Rosbrien call 1800-200-504