*Trigger warning. The content on this page contains information about domestic and family violence and could cause distress.

*Trigger warning. The content on this page contains information about domestic and family violence and could cause distress.


All children have the right to live without violence

We advocate for children and young people who have experienced domestic and family violence by calling on the government to improve the laws, policies and practices that impact children's lives.

In Australia, 1 in 4 children are exposed to domestic and family violence*

The impact of domestic and family violence (DFV) on children and young people is long-lasting. The pain and distress experienced by them cannot be underestimated. Our front-line workers and practitioners tell us that children and young people continue to endure abuse and controlling behaviours on a daily basis from those who should be providing them with care and security.

The damage to a child’s sense of self, the undermining of confidence, the impact on physical and mental health, and the social costs through poverty, loss of education and isolation are detailed in our research report, Truth is the abuse never stopped

This research has shown that 88% of child victims of DFV have suffered life-long psychological distress as a result of their experiences. Long after the abuse has stopped, the devastating impact of domestic violence remains.

16 Days of Activism

The United Nation’s international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, takes place each year from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) until 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

Barnardos is proud to participate in this year’s 16 Days of Activism and encourages all Australians to work together to prevent violence against women and children.

There is a domestic violence crisis in Australia

On average, one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner, and 1 in 4 children are exposed to domestic violence*.

Domestic and family violence (DFV) can be prevented.

At Barnardos, we work with child victims of domestic violence, along with their families, and we see first-hand the traumatic, long-lasting effects it has on them. We will be using the next 16 days to raise awareness of the impact of domestic violence on children and ask you to join us.

You can take action by supporting and sharing our campaign and activities.



Podcast: Championing for children experiencing domestic violence

Coming soon

Join us for a conversation with Deirdre Cheers, CEO Barnardos Australia and Delia Donovan, CEO of DVNSW who will be discussing the rising need to address the detrimental effects that domestic violence is having on Australian children.

This issue needs to be recognised by policy makers and the law so that children can have the right opportunities and pathways to safety and healing from the trauma of experiencing domestic violence.

It is time to recognise children and young people as victim survivors of domestic and family violence.

It is critical that children have access to their own trauma counselling and other specialist DFV services.


We need to act now

Change is possible. You can help by sharing our social media posts and tagging us.

If you are experiencing family violence, concerned for your safety, or in an emergency situation please call 000 for urgent police assistance.


Our government asks

Barnardos Australia asks that the Federal and all State and Territory Governments act on the following six areas of priority:

  1. Recognise children and young people as equal victims of domestic and family violence in policy, programs and service delivery across every Territory and State and ensure that this is prioritised and implemented as part of the First Action Plan 2023-2027 under the National Plan to End Violence Towards Women and Children 2022-2032.

  2. Prioritise children and young people who are victim-survivors of domestic and family violence, and ensure they receive immediate and effective trauma-informed counselling and therapy.

  3. Provide funding for domestic and family violence child specialist workers in all seven Barnardos Children’s Family centres to ensure children and young people are supported in their own right with case management and support.

  4. Increase funding for safe, secure and affordable social housing for children and families fleeing domestic violence situations, including crisis, transitional and long-term housing in order to directly prevent children needing to enter out-of-home care.

  5. Review the legislation to give children a say about whether they wish to see a perpetrator parent after an AVO or court order is issued.

  6. Prioritise primary prevention and fund age-appropriate domestic and family violence education programs which are nationally consistent across early childhood education, primary and secondary schools.


Take action

You can advocate for children by taking a stand with us. Become a champion for children by acting now to protect children from domestic and family violence. Here are some simple ways to help drive change for children:

Share our latest campaign

Donate to support our
DFV services


Tegan's story

"My children have come out with things that I've had to seek out help for because they have experienced trauma, and they haven't processed the trauma." - Tegan, domestic violence victim-survivor and advocate.

Tegan talks about the effect that domestic violence had on her children
Play Video about Tegan talks about the effect that domestic violence had on her children

Tegan talks about the effect that domestic violence had on her children

“When I left the relationship, everyone put me in to see a psychologist. Everyone made referrals for me to be looked after. Now, in those sessions, I tried to source help for my children. Now let’s fast forward five years. My children have come out with things that I’ve had to seek out help for because they have experienced trauma, and they haven’t processed the trauma.”

Barnardos conducted a national survey into the impact of domestic and family violence on children. It found children are silent victims with nowhere to turn.

“I experience persistent fears that whilst I was away from my mother, she should be killed by my stepfather. I couldn’t sleep when my stepfather was home late because I knew he was out drinking, and there would be a fight when he got home. As soon as I heard raised voices, I went out to protect my mother. It started when I was in preschool.” – Survey response read by actor.

“We need more in place to help these kids because, at the end of the day, they’re our future.”


Myths and facts about Domestic and Family Violence

Click on the Myth’s card below to learn the facts.


Domestic violence is physical violence


Domestic violence is not always physical. Domestic and family violence can involve any behaviours that makes you feel scared, attempt to control you, involve threats to you and/or your children, and deny you choice or freedom.


Children who ‘witness’ DFV in their home are not harmed


Children are not ‘witnesses’ of DFV, they are victims and they can be seriously harmed by DFV even if they are not physically abused.


Children can overcome any negative effects they may experience from DFV


DFV can have major impacts on children, some of which continue into adulthood. Many children who have experienced DFV develop lifelong psychological, physical and emotional impacts.


Anyone can leave a domestic violence situation


It is not always safe to leave a domestic violence situation at any moment. There is an increased risk of harm or death when leaving so the timing is usually carefully planned. It is not ok to judge a person for staying in their DV situation. Ultimately, of course it is best to escape the situation, but this can take time and careful planning, especially when there are children involved.

To find out more about domestic and family violence, read our research report.

“I grew up in a two-bedroom home with four other siblings and we were terrorised and terrified by what happened when my father became violent toward my mother.”
“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.”
“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 self-care. I didn’t learn skills like using a washing machine.”
“If I did have friends I didn’t invite them home. I created a fantasy world which was easier to live in.”
“There was no one asking questions or supporting our family. My mother was isolated and alone and would 'tell' her story matter of fact, and others would listen without intervention. No one asked 'what about the kids'.”
Previous slide
Next slide

Domestic and Family Violence FAQs

Domestic and family violence is any violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour that happens in current relationships or past family, domestic or intimate relationships.

Abuse doesn’t have to involve physical violence, to be domestic or family violence.

Domestic and family violence can involve behaviour that makes you feel scared, involve threats to you and your children, and denies you choice and freedom. Domestic and family violence almost always involves an ongoing repeated pattern of behaviour to control you. This is known as coercive control, which can include both physical and non-physical abuse.

Coercive control is a pattern of controlling and manipulative behaviours. Coercive control can be hard to spot because it often starts slowly or builds up over time. It can involve both physical and non-physical abuse. Everyone’s experience is different, but there are some common behaviours to look out for.

Some examples of coercive control behaviours are name calling, controlling access to money, checking your phone or text messages, not allowing you to go to school or work, cutting you off from friends or family, and many others.

A person who uses coercive control may use these abusive behaviours to scare you and take away your freedom and independence. The behaviours can be subtle and sometimes, this means only you and the person using violence against you can tell how harmful the behaviour is. The impacts of coercive control are serious no matter which abusive behaviours are used.

No, domestic violence is an ongoing repeated pattern of behaviour to control you. It is not always physical. Domestic and family violence can involve behaviour that makes you feel scared, involve threats to you, your children or pets, and denies your choice.

Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone. It can happen to anyone from any background, and it is widespread across Australia and the world. It does not only happen in certain cultures or postcodes, it can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Get in touch