Children, and the interconnections between family violence, sexual offences and child abuse

Dr Patrick Tidmarsh1, Principal Practitioner Narelle Goodland

1Victoria Police, Australia

This ‘short shot’ will look at the intersections between sexual offending and family violence, with particular reference to the abuse of children.  It will explore changing the narrative when children are ‘exposed to’ or ‘witness to’ family violence, as a critical future practice consideration for police. The current narrative assumes children are only affected as witnesses of intimate partner violence and somehow not directly harmed. The future demands us to focus on children’s risks; their individual right to safety, and not merely as an extension of their parents. Shifting our focus and changing our narrative will provide opportunities for early intervention and prevention of child sexual and physical abuse.


Patrick is a Criminologist and Forensic Interview Advisor. He is the Manager of the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Team (SOCIT) at Victoria Police, Family Violence Command.  He has worked in the SOCIT since it was established, in 2007, to improve the investigation of sexual assault and sexual child abuse. There are now 28 SOCIT offices across Victoria, comprising over 450 specialist sexual crime investigators. Patrick’s key role has been to develop police members’ understanding of sexual offending and sexual offenders, including developing effective interview processes for sexual offence suspects.

Narelle has twenty years experience in the child protection field. Her Principal practitioner role includes policy development in the child safety and sexual exploitation area, and working with specialist units on investigation and disruption of child sexual exploitation. She also trains specialist sexual crime investigators in understanding trauma, traumatic memory, and interviewing child complainants.