Domestic Abuse Helpline

24 hour domestic abuse helpline

Child to Parent Violence & Abuse

What is Child to Parent Violence & Abuse (CPVA)?

There is no current legal definition of Child to Parent Violence & Abuse. CPVA can follow a similar pattern to domestic abuse and can be perpetrated against parents/carers/siblings and grandparents, anyone who is in a parenting role – some kinship carers* report this type of abuse too. The intention of the young person using abuse and violence, is to intimidate and coerce other family members, to have power and control over them. Thic can put the safety of the whole family at risk. Parents and family members often blame themselves for the behaviour and minimise it. CPVA is not a reflection of poor parenting. CPVA occurs across society regardless of gender, race, culture, religion, sexuality, age, ability, class or educational attainment.

Whilst it is important for young people to take responsibility for their behaviour; it is essential to recognise that children and young people model behaviour that they have experienced and grown up with. In order for a young person to feel safe they need to maintain control. Early childhood trauma; growing up in a household where there is poor mental health, learning or physical disabilities or substance misuse all impact on a child’s lived experience, but the most significant factor identified was a young person’s experience of domestic abuse and violence.

*Kinship carers are usually family members or family friends who look after a child/ren when parents are unable to; the majority of kinship carers are grandparents. Kinship care is an arrangement that can be made privately between parents and carers; if the arrangement is intended to be longer than 28 days the Local Authority must be notified to ensure that the placement is safe for the child/ren. Sometimes child/ren are placed with kinship carers as a result by the Local Authority involvement with a family.

Types of CPVA

CPVA can be and is not limited to the following:

  • Physical – including hitting, pushing, throwing things, breaking things, punching doors/walls, bullying younger siblings, cruelty to pets, sexual abuse
  • Emotional -verbal abuse, intimidation, emotional intimidation, threats to run away or kill themselves, limiting the parent’s movements, taking control of the family car.
  • Financial – demanding money, stealing, accruing debts that parents/carers are responsible for.

Impact of CPVA

CPVA is not a young person pushing boundaries, or one-off incidents; in families where there is CPVA there is a pattern of abusive behaviour that empowers the young person to have control.

The impact of CPVA on parents might make them feel that they are treading on eggshells. Parents might change their parenting for fear of what could happen if they do not go along with what a young person is demanding. Parents could be living in fear of their child and home might not be a safe place for family members.

Parent’s emotional well being maybe affected and they may have physical injuries; this might prevent them from being able to work or force them to take time off.

Parents/carers may have experienced the abuse over months/years before help is sought; denial or minimisation of the abuse, fear of stigma, fear of the removal of children or even previous unsuccessful engagement with services can influence parents/carers not seeking support. Often CPVA co-exists with other on going issues within the family; possibly trauma, a loss or bereavement, a relationship break up, parental mental ill health addiction, or a child’s developmental issues. A key factor identified is the child’s experience of domestic abuse. None of these are an excuse for violence and abuse.

Without appropriate intervention there is a risk of family breakdown, serious injury and poor mental health for all involved. The well being and safety of the young person is also at risk; from homelessness, isolation and they may, in the future, abuse their partner(s).

Parents are reluctant to involve the police but sometimes this is the safest thing to do for the whole family, including the young person who is behaving abusively.