Abusive parents have the capacity to cause serious harm to their children, both physically and psychologically. Whether the abuse is verbal or physical, it can have long-lasting effects on a child’s mental health. It is not just the physical abuse that can be damaging – emotional abuse can also be incredibly damaging, leaving victims feeling isolated, ashamed and alone. Children of abusive parents are also at a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety.
The effects of abuse do not stop when the child reaches adulthood either; research has found that victims of child abuse are more likely to suffer difficulties in forming meaningful relationships as adults, as well as having higher levels of substance misuse and other challenges.
Therefore, contact between an abusive parent and their child should not be allowed until it has been proven that the relationship will no longer be harmful for the child. This should include proper assessments by social workers or psychologists who can accurately assess whether contact should be allowed or not.
Furthermore, courts should consider the views of children when making decisions about contact with an abusive parent; if a child does not feel safe or comfortable in being around their abuser then that should be taken into account when determining whether contact should take place or not.
Not only would this help protect vulnerable children from further harm but it would also help ensure that they are able to form meaningful relationships with other adults who can provide them with emotional support during times of distress or difficulty.
It is important that we recognise how serious and damaging abuse can be for children and do all we can to protect them from further harm; this includes changing the presumption of contact with abusive parents in law so that every case is assessed on its own merits rather than assuming automatic contact will take place between an abuser and their victim unless proven otherwise.