True Vision

films that make a difference

Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of the Child

Back to ‘Our Films’
59 minutes
Anna Hall
Anna Hall
Executive Producer:
Brian Woods

Award-winning filmmaker Anna Hall follows children and their families as they go through the emotional aftermath of domestic violence.

Shot over the course of three years, and working with local charities in Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police, the film has unprecedented access to children who have all witnessed or experienced domestic violence, meeting senior social workers to help understand how children are affected by domestic abuse.

One in five children in the UK has lived with an adult who was or is a victim of domestic violence. 750,000 children each year see or suffer abuse which affects them forever.

Thirteen year-old Zara grew up in a violent home. Her mum left her dad when Zara was eight, after years of abuse. But recently her dad has managed to re-establish contact, with disturbing results.

Eight year-old Ollie lives with his mum and little brother. He saw his mum being attacked by her boyfriend, slamming her head in a door. Her boyfriend received a suspended sentence, and the family live in fear of his return. Ollie knows the drill, and religiously checks the doors are locked.

Fourteen year-old Kirstie’s mum, Natalie Hemming, was subject to violence and coercive control by her partner for ten years. Kirstie was too frightened to say anything to teachers at school, even when her mum went missing. Three weeks later, police discovered her mum’s body - her step-dad had murdered her.

Kirstie speaks for the first time about the effect of living in such a frightening home, accompanied by footage of her police interview in 2016 at the time of her mum’s disappearance.

The film was first aired on Wednesday the 6th February at 9pm on BBC2 and is now available to watch on the iPlayer.

Check out press clippings around the film below.

Kirsty and Jo, contributors from the film talk on BBC's Look North on Wednesday 6th February.
Anna Hall speaks on BBC's South Today on Wednesday 6th February.
Anna Hall and one of the contributors from the film Jo, on BBC 4's Woman's Hour on Monday 4th February 2019.
Anna Hall on Talk Radio.
Anna Hall on BBC's Three Counties Radio.
Chloe Purcell from SAFE! on BBC's Three Counties Radio.
Interview with Rock Pool's Creative Director, Sue Penna.

Sue Penna is the Creative Director of Rock Pool. Rock Pool provides industry leading training and consultancy services for organisations that support people affected by trauma. Recognising the potential in every individual, they place people at the centre of their own recovery enabling them to become their own trauma informed expert.

Sue has worked with individuals who have psychological trauma as a result of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for over 30 years in her professional life as a clinician, trainer and supervisor both within the NHS and independently.

She has specialised in writing psycho educational programmes that promote trauma informed practice and a recovery model. Sue is passionate for the need for multi-agency working and committed to supporting front line workers to have the skills to support families with a trauma informed approach.

Sue has an extensive background in the domestic abuse sector and has written trauma informed domestic abuse programmes including the Inspiring Families ProgrammeAdult and Children and Young PeopleDomestic Abuse Recovery Toolkit and the Sexual Violence Recovery Toolkit. Sue has also devised the ACE Recovery Toolkit written for parents and the ACE Recovery Toolkit for children and young people.


Anna, Kirsty & Zara Accept the RTS Award for the film

Below is some information about helplines and services available to anyone.

Domestic abuse is a crime.If you are in immediate danger call the police and dial 999 if it is an emergency. They have a duty to protect and help you.

For more information about covering your tracks when looking for help online please click here.

24-hour National Domestic Violence


Reducing The Risk

Reducing the Risk is a local Oxfordshire charity which provides support for adults and children at risk of harm through domestic abuse for as long as they need it. The charity provides an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service whose IDVAs  worked intensively with two of the mother’s whose children appear in the documentary.

What is striking in these cases is that the issues that originally brought them to our service were resolved and with our help both mothers had left their abusive partners and started new lives with their children.

But such is the nature of domestic abuse that their ex partners wouldn’t relinquish control over them even from afar and both mothers self-referred to us again for help and support.

As both ex partners had not done anything criminal,  the mums needed civil injunctions to help protect them and couldn’t afford solicitors – so our IDVAs drafted the court documents, paid the court fees and supported them successfully at every hearing.

Layla's mum got an order protecting herself and children indefinitely and Zara’s mum had her ex partners parental responsibly removed - a huge achievement as only a handful of such orders have ever been made in the  country! These orders have provided huge peace of mind to the families.

The charity also trains and empowers professionals to work together to provide a circle of support around victims (The Champion Network approach); and provides training across the UK

The work of the charity is widely recognised and award winning: most recently they were finalists in the Children and Young People Now awards, and their approach is included in the most recent publication of the Child’s World.

Check out this link to the Oxford times article featuring Reducing the Risk from Wednesday 6th February.

For more information please visit the Reducing the Risk website.










SAFE! Support for Young People Affected by Crime was established in 2008 from a recognition that experiencing a crime can have an enormous impact, and a concern that it can be especially devastating for children and young adults, who may struggle to cope and recover without appropriate support. SAFE! provides open access, inclusive, and free services for young people and families affected by crime, helping them overcome the effects of what has happened to them and regain their quality of life. SAFE! practitioners offer a range of pragmatic strategies based upon protective behaviours and restorative approaches that are designed to increase confidence, build resilience and improve future safety. By listening attentively and putting their needs at the heart of the process, SAFE! empowers young people, giving them a voice and helping them and those around them to build protective communities where they can feel safe. Working proactively with a wide range of partner agencies, SAFE! promotes the rights of young people, parents and families affected by crime, and by disseminating best practice guidance and resources the charity encourages any adult to feel confident in supporting a young person they know through hard times. With the rise in sexual abuse, domestic violence and internet crime the world can be a scary place, and SAFE!’s unique, innovative and compassionate service seeks to help young people live happy and adventurous lives.

Almost a third of all referrals into SAFE! are for children who have witnessed domestic violence.  Our support helps them to understand the impact of that experience, and empowers them to work out what they need in order to repair the harm.  SAFE! encourages children to grow in confidence, to know how to feel safe, and to build a network of support around them. SAFE! works closely with domestic abuse services, schools, social care, mental health services and police to make sure that children and their families receive all the help they need.

SAFE! was involved in the support of two of the children who took part in this film. Through a series of sessions using creative techniques, our practitioners helped them to explore their feelings, thoughts and behaviours and to look at the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy behaviours. Most importantly, SAFE! worked with these young people to help them to grow in confidence and self-esteem, and to understand that everyone has a right to feel safe.

For more information please see our website:

Tel: 0800 133 7938










Freephone Helpline Tel: 0808 2000 247

This freephone 24 hour national domestic violence helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

Tel: 0808 2000 247

Website: https://www.nationaldomesticvi...


If you are 18 or under, Childline offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your worry, whenever you need help.0800 1111

If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors 24/7 for help, advice and support.0808 800 5000 or email

Women's AidWomen's Aid is the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. They support a network of over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the UK.

Tel: 0808 2000 247


Victim Support

Victim Support is an independent charity which helps people cope with the effects of crime. They provide free and confidential support and information to help you deal with your experience.

Tel: 0845 450 3883


Karma Nirvana

Karma Nirvana supports both male and female victims of honour crimes and forced marriages. Its staff and most of its 18 volunteers are survivors of forced marriage and/or 'honour'-based violence.

Tel: 0800 5999 247


Forced Marriage

This website provides advice, information and essential contacts to help people out of a forced marriage.



For men, women and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse.

Main helpline: 01926 402 498

Specialist men's helpline: 0808 800 5005

Specialist young people’s helpline: 0808 800 5007


Protection Against Stalking and Harassment

Provides information, support and advice to victims of stalking and harassment.

Tel: 0300 636 0300


Men’s Advice LineFor men experiencing domestic violence and abuse.

Helpline: 0808 8010327




The ManKind Initiative operates a confidential helpline for men who experience violence from their partners or ex-partners.

Helpline: 01823 334244