Domestic abuse and addiction

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is when someone close to you, often your spouse or partner, causes you physical, social, mental, financial or emotional harm. The violence and abuse can be actual or threatened and can happen once every so often or on a regular basis.

Domestic abuse must be managed in a way that protects the child’s safety.

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What is addiction?

Addiction is when you do not have control over taking or using something to the point where it could cause you or others around you harm. This could include, among others, addictions to alcohol, gambling, drugs or solvents. 

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Protecting your children

In domestic abuse and addiction situations you may try to shield your children from what is happening by playing it down or not talking about it.

The truth is that most children are aware of the abuse. As many as 90% of children are in the same room or in the next room when domestic abuse occurs.

You may hang on to the hope that the behaviour of the abusing parent will eventually change and work to keep the peace instead of protecting yourself and your children. When this happens, you put yourself and your children at enormous risk. Even when things improve for a time, significant change can only occur if the offending parent has acknowledged the problem and is actively seeking professional help.

Your first priority should be the safety of yourself and your children. In many cases, this means involving the police and getting the protection of the legal system. A Resolution specialist lawyer can help you.

You should tell your solicitor if the other parent has threatened you, hurt you physically or sexually, controlled or isolated you or has behaved in an emotionally abusive way towards you.

Your solicitor will be able to advise you about getting an injunction, which would prevent further abuse or stop the other parent from coming to your home. Your solicitor can also advise you about making arrangements for your children and the other parent spending time together that do not expose either you or the children to these risks.

You may be eligible for legal aid for injunction proceedings, but if your income or capital is above a certain limit, you would have to pay a contribution.

As well as physically protecting children, it is very important that you offer emotional support to help them cope with difficult situations involving domestic abuse and addiction. Often children involved in these types of situation have mixed feelings about the other parent. Some may feel deeply responsible for a parent’s behaviour, while others may feel conflicted and worry about betraying one or both parents.