I recently had a chat with a young boy who was repeatedly abused by his professional (accountant) father. I asked him how he perceived domestic violence, and how he coped with such violence, and how he was able to make sense of it all. This is what he said:

'it is painful to talk about it. I have lived with domestic violence for a good part of my life. I copped with it in a variety of ways, ranging from keeping myself to myself. My dad beat me on weekly basis….the amount of daily abuse was unbelievable. Any mistake I made…was followed by insults…stupid boy…silly boy…waste of space and a lot more. Also, I felt the need to protect my brother. Our mother passed away when I was seven….I'm the eldest….we had no one to help us from this aggressive man .We have a lot of relatives…but they rarely visit us. I don't think my dad likes his relatives. What I'm saying is - we all live in London….and I don't get to see my relatives because my dad will not let us visit…etc. I would like to learn more about domestic violence - what is it and how to stop it…as well as learn and understand why it happens (name: withheld).

Children, who have witnessed domestic violence or have themselves been abused, need to be identified as victims of domestic violence, and their safety has to be ensured. The effects of abuse can last a life-time. Psychological healing takes longer. The victim may continue revisiting the horrid episodes right through to adulthood and beyond. There is a possibility they may exhibit health and behavior problems, including problems with their weight, their eating and sleep. They may have difficulty at school and find it hard to develop close and positive friendships. They may try to run away from home or even display suicidal tendencies.

Considering the taboo that surrounds incest or the sexual abuse of children and adolescents within the family, this is one of the most invisible forms of violence. Because the crime is perpetrated most often by a father, stepfather, grandfather, brother, uncle or another male relative in a position of trust, the rights of the child are usually sacrificed in order to protect the name of the family and that of adult perpetrator. However, studies have shown that from 40 - 45 per cent of known sexual assaults within the family are committed against girls aged 18 years and younger, regardless of religion or culture.