The topic of domestic violence is an emotive one conjuring visions of child abuse by parents or carers, or marital violence, in general abuse by men of their wives or partners. According to published police statistics in Scotland for the years of 2012 – 13 male violence of women accounted for 80% of all domestic abuse, and in 2014 over 2,600 children in Scotland were identified as needing protection from abuse. This is particularly concerning since the NSPCC suggests that, for every child who has been identified, there are 8 other children who are at risk but who are ‘under the radar’.
These statistics, highlighting the underlying nature of inter-family abuse relationships, i.e. the abuse of less powerful and more vulnerable family members by more powerful adults, undoubtedly account for the majority of the abuse situations within family homes.
However this is, sadly, not the whole story. Understanding abuse within a family means recognising the impact of sibling aggression on every family member. It also needs to encompass the growing recognition of child to parent aggression and it is this latter aspect of inter-family relationships with which this article is primarily concerned.