Many children who witness domestic violence have been found to have higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems than other children. The impact varies according to their age, sex and role in the family. Some children feel responsible for the violence. They may think they are making things easier for their mother by not saying how they feel, by trying to be quieter, better able to cope.
While most children escape without physical injury they may bear emotional scares which in many cases can last a lifetime.
Ways to Help Children
- Tell them that the violence is not their fault.
- Give them permission to talk about the violence.
- Help them make a safety plan which they can follow.
- Let them know that others have had similar experiences.
- Explain to them what is happening.
- Let them know that it is not their role to protect you.
- Let them know that you want to know how they are feeling.
- Assure them that feeling frightened, angry, confused or sad is normal in such situations.
- Find a trustworthy, sympathetic adult that the children can talk to.
- Discuss courses of action for the future with your children.
- Make schools aware of the issues and seek suitable support from teachers.
- Make your doctor and other professionals aware and seek their advice.
The Abused Partner
- Many abused partners often say that he “hits me, but is good to the kids”. By being abusive to you he is not being good to the kids, and he is denying them the right to a safe and happy childhood.
- Remember you are not to blame for his violence, and you are not responsible for the effect his abuse of you has had on your children.
- Until you can get the help you need to make yourself safe, your children will have difficulty feeling safe or happy knowing that their mother is being hurt.
- Deciding what action to take, such as separating or an Intervention Order, is a confusing and difficult decision. You will need to discuss your options with a suitable professional and act on what is seen to be the best course of action for the safety and well-being of yourself and your children.