Domestic Violence & Abuse (DVA), including child sexual abuse, distorts children’s perceptions of relationship, blame, cause and effect, and has impact on their multi-dimensional growth and development.
Child victims are the most vulnerable in the family matrix, and they need protection from potential harm (safeguarding) and intervention that precisely addresses to the impact of harm that has already occurred as a result of witnessing and or experiencing DVA. The best way of protecting a child is by empowering and supporting the non-abusive parent.
It is standard government policy for any faith institution to have an active child protection policy. Adding to this, ensuring that the safety and recovery of the non-abusive parent is not compromised, improves the effectiveness of child protection. Children also need to be assured that they are not to blame for the perpetrator’s behaviours; and perpetrators must always be held accountable for their behaviours.
Legal proceedings, under civil/criminal law, involvement of agencies like social services and police, and introduction of contact with the abusive parent, can bring untoward problems for children. They will need support and advocacy through excellent and very skilful pastoral care.
Above all, child victims need assistance to find complete restoration from the multi-dimensional harm caused by DVA. When children attain restoration they become protected from becoming future perpetrators or victims, and from experiencing further damage in their life time as a result of their childhood experience of DVA.
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