By Ben Hunte: ITV London reporter
According to an ITV London investigation, the number of parents being abused by their children has nearly doubled over the last five years.
Met Police figures show reports of child-to-parent violent offences grew from 920 in 2012 to 1801 in 2016 - a 95% increase. Offences of GBH (grievous bodily harm) have increased from 20 in 2012 to 125 in 2016.
Despite this, sufferers of child-to-parent abuse say there are few places for them to seek help, and the only support usually given by local authorities is advice.
One victim, a mother who spoke anonymously, said: “My 11-year-old son became abusive towards me when I announced I was pregnant with a new partner."
He would strangle me, punch me, and try to push me down the stairs to get rid of the baby. He would run through doors to hit me, he would scream, he would smash my house up, throw things down the stairs and destroy everything I brought him, including new computers. I was petrified, to the point that I would cry myself to sleep. I would sit in my chair shaking uncontrollably. At one point I actually wanted to end my life because of what he was doing to me. I felt completely worthless. There’s nowhere for people like us to go. It took me three years to tell people that my son was abusing me. When your child threatens you and holds you against walls, it belittles you. It’s embarrassing.
Joseph Lettieri is a Project Manager for the charity PAARS (Parent Abuse & Reconciliation Service), a London service specialising in long-term support for parents who are being abused by their children. They have seen referrals double over the last year.
We have noticed more parents becoming aware of being abused by their child. We are now hearing of children becoming physically abusive after refusing to get off of electronic devices or refusing to attend school. We have even seen children who continually steal their parents’ bank cards and run up debts for online gaming.> There is a huge stigma around parents reporting their children for being abusive, and that is partly because of a lack of local authority support for them once they do. Currently there is only really police intervention - but a lot of abuse is not physical and does not require the police. Also, most parents do not want to get their child into trouble with the police, so they just accept the abuse.
We take violent offending very seriously and we are committed to safeguarding all victims and bringing perpetrators to justice, working with all our partners and local communities to constantly update our processes.