Barnardos Domestic and Family Violence research report

Adult insights on the support they received when impacted by childhood domestic and family violence.  


Truth is, the abuse never stopped

All children have a right to grow up in a home free from violence and abuse. The devastating effect of domestic and family violence (DFV) on children and young people has been increasingly researched, and its lasting impact acknowledged. Yet, despite the evidence, children and young people continue to be regarded as witnesses, rather than as victims who directly experience DFV.

It is time to recognise children and young people as equal victim survivors in their own right, with their own safety and support needs, and to establish appropriate DFV support policy and programs which include children and young people.

 This research report is an important part of our continuing efforts to understand the experiences of children. We hope this report will promote community discussion on the lasting effects of domestic and family violence on children – they are often the “voiceless victims”.

“What this research does, is dispels the myth that children are resilient and will just naturally overcome the negative effects of abuse"
- Dr Robert Urquhart.

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Domestic and Family Violence research reports

Barnardos Domestic and Family Violence research report 2022

Barnardos Executive Summary of DFV report 2022

“I was in fear for my life. I didn’t learn boundaries of relationships.
I didn’t learn right from wrong. I didn’t learn selfcare.”
- Anonymous child victim survivor


Impact of DFV on children and young people


experienced psychological distress


experienced low


found it difficult to trust other people


didn't feel safe at home


were often sad and lonely


had poor relationships with their parents


often had bad dreams or poor sleep


found it difficult to make friends

About our Domestic and Family Violence programs

As an organisation, we are child-focused in our approach and we provide integrated programs and services to ‘wrap around’
families and support them through the trauma caused by Domestic and Family Violence (DFV).

Domestic Violence Program

Barnardos works with families that have experienced or are experiencing domestic and/or family violence and have children living at home. The service works with families to identify their needs and strengths to provide tailored support for each family member. The support is reviewed every three months and is designed to empower families to make long-term meaningful changes.

The aim of the program is to keep children safe, reduce parental stress and strengthen families.

The service provides: Home visiting, Safety planning, Domestic violence education, Court support, Parenting support and education, Budgeting and household management, Practical assistance and coordination of specialist assessments and referrals, Group work, Referrals to programs within Barnardos.

Learn to Live Again
– Women’s DFV Support Group 

This is an eight-week program delivered in a group setting (meeting once per week) designed for mothers who have experienced Domestic and Family Violence (DFV).

A therapeutic style group, rather than a psychoeducational group, this helps women identify the skills they have within to cope with and heal from trauma.

The group helps reconnect women to themselves, their bodies, their family and to the community around them.

The group aims to heal and strengthen the bond between women and their children, and in turn provide a platform for women to support their children’s experiences of lived trauma.

DFV Phone Support

LINKER is an after-hours telephone support service for women in Western NSW who have left Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) situations. It proactively offers telephone and text message support to women (and most often their children) who have accessed emergency short-term accommodation as the result of leaving a DFV environment.

The LINKER worker proactively contacts the client by phone and offers personalised and consistent support as required during their time of crisis and transition through homelessness to post-crisis stability, at times of the day and week when there are few, if any other forms of support available.

LINKER offers flexible out of hours phone contact (5pm-9am every day of the week) from a specialist DFV worker to clients referred by emergency accommodation providers. Clients particularly value the LINKER Service capacity for phone-based support from another town, allowing for a more anonymous relationship, thus respecting confidentiality concerns, which can be challenging in small communities.

Safe and Together™

The Safe and Together™ Model is an internationally recognised suite of tools and interventions designed to help child and family support workers become DFV–informed.

This child-centred model derives its name from the concept that children are best served when we can work toward keeping them safe and together with the non-offending parent (the adult domestic violence survivor). The model provides a framework for partnering with DFV survivors and intervening with perpetrators in order to enhance the safety and well-being of children.

Right across our agency, in every program and every support role, we are seeking to embed a Safe and Together ‘lens’ or approach in how we respond to and work alongside of families, children and young people who are survivors and resistors of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV).

"I dissociated. I cut myself. I found other ways to bring pain to myself even as a very young child because I was taught I had to have pain to have love and care.”
- Anonymous child victim survivor

If you experience any distress while reading this report and would like to speak to a professional, please contact your health practitioner (such as your GP or a professional counsellor) or call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).