Child-on-adult abuse

What is child-on-adult abuse?

Traditionally we think of an abuser as being a partner or a parent – typically known as child abuse or domestic abuse.

But what about when a child is abusive to a parent?

This is child-on-parent abuse, another form of domestic abuse, and it’s more common than you may think. In fact, research suggests it could be experienced by as many as  one in 10 families.

How children can abuse their parents

Child-on-parent abuse is defined as a ‘harmful act which is designed to gain power and control over a parent. The abuse can be physical, psychological, or financial’. (Source: Cottrell 2011).

Quite simply, children of any age – from the age of nine to 59 – can be violent, threatening and emotionally abusive towards their parents.

Common examples of child-on-parent abuse include:

  • Violence and threatening behaviour when the child doesn’t get what they want;
  • Consistent criticism, put downs or attempts to embarrass, degrade and humiliate;
  • Controlling of – and denying you access to – finances (this is particularly common in older parents being looked after by their adult children).

Many parents suffer this abuse in silence, as they:

  • don’t want to report their children to the police/authorities;
  • don’t know where to get help; or
  • confuse these behaviours with those of children ‘testing the boundaries’.

What to do if you’re experiencing child-on-parent abuse

Being abused by a child is nothing to be ashamed of – it’s more common than people think and has increased significantly during lockdown.

Voice is working with specialist organisations to provide support and rehabilitation for families affected by child-on-parents abuse. It’s free, confidential and you don’t have to report anything to the police.

To see how we could help you, contact us.