Parents suffer in silence at the hands of abusive children, report finds

By Joe Lepper, Monday 17 September 2012

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Parents who are abused by their drug or alcohol dependent children are missing out on support because of the “double stigma” of addiction and abuse, according to a government-funded report.

Young woman drinking in the home

Charities are calling for the abuse of parents by children to be given more attention. The Image: sxc.hu/posed by model

The study, carried out by the charities Adfam and Against Violence and Abuse, is based on interviews with 88 victims of abuse.

The report found many parents failed to seek help because they were ashamed to admit that they were suffering at the hands of a son or daughter with an alcohol or drug dependency.

When they did seek help “many parents reported a dismissive and judgmental response from professionals, friends and members of the community,” the report warned.


Most of the perpetrators of violence against the parents questioned by the charities were under 18, and the youngest was 11.

The charities are now calling for the abuse of parents by children to be given a higher priority in national and local domestic violence strategies, since there is a lack of government policy on the issue.

It is also urging better co-ordination between substance abuse, family support and domestic violence support services and argues that tendering processes should be reformed so that it is easier for specialist charities to compete for council and health trust contracts to help victims.

Councils and health trusts should also commission schemes that work with young perpetrators of domestic violence, the report said.

Adfam chief executive Vivienne Evans explained: “This type of domestic violence has long been under-recognised by practitioners and policymakers, which has resulted in parents not getting the help they need and deserve.”

Of those victims interviewed 88 per cent were mothers. The majority of perpetrators of abuse were sons. The types of abuse suffered by parents included: emotional abuse, theft, death threats, serious physical assault with weapons and damage to property.

Common concerns that emerged from victims were guilt and a sense of failure as a parent.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Drug and alcohol misuse can have serious problems for families and communities. Each local area has specialist drug and alcohol services for young people, focusing on the harm substance misuse causes and related problems like truancy and offending. We will study this report and will consider its recommendations."

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