Special Report: Intrafamilial Abuse

Data shows the number of child abuse, parental neglect and domestic violence cases is rising, raising tough challenges for how child protection services and professionals work effectively with families.

Intrafamilial abuse is the term given to maltreatment of children within a family unit or setting. It is a broad term that can incorporate many different forms of abuse including sexual, physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence - including the effects of a child witnessing it - and neglect linked to parental social and health problems. It can also incorporate abuse by children and young people on siblings, and on rare occasions a child physically abusing a parent (see research evidence).

The impact of childhood intrafamilial abuse can be significant and long-lasting, damaging children's educational attainment and mental health, as well as affecting their ability to form long-term, healthy relationships in adulthood.

The scale of intrafamilial abuse is difficult to assess. However, research suggests a significant proportion of child sexual abuse victims are abused by a family member or a close friend of the family, while one in five children witness domestic abuse.

Encouraging children to disclose abuse when it happens is particularly challenging when the abuser is a family member. It is why it is so vital for professionals to build trusting relationships with children.

CYP Now's special report on intrafamilial child abuse summarises key policy in this area, highlights latest research and assesses four examples of innovative practice.


Intrafamilial Abuse: Policy context

Intrafamilial Abuse: Research evidence:

Experiences of Emotional and Physical Sibling Abuse "Lifting The Veil: The Lived Experience of Sibling Abuse"

How Do Siblings of Child Sexual Abuse Victims Respond to Disclosure? "Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Non-Abused Siblings: A Review With Implications for Research and Practice"

How Families Respond to Child Sexual Abuse Disclosure "The Impact of Child Sexual Abuse Discovery on Caregivers and Families: A Qualitative Study"

Children's Narratives of Sexual Abuse

Intrafamilial Abuse: Practice examples:

Domestic violence advisory service, Blackpool

Newport Family Assessment and Support Service

Family Safeguarding Hertfordshire

Sheffield City Council

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