Talking to Children about domestic violence and abuse. ADVA ...

Talking to Children about domestic violence and abuse. ADVA ...

Talking to Children about domestic violence and abuse. ADVA ...


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Talking toChildrenaboutdomesticviolence andabuseadvaagainst domestic violence and abusein DevonPrinted March, 2006 by adva, Against Domestic Violence and Abuse in DevonTo request copies of this leaflet or more information please contact: xxxxx xxxx, xxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxThis leaflet was printed on xxx xxxxx paper, a 100% recycled paper created from xxxx xxxxxx andprinted with 100% vegetable inks which are not harmful to the environment.A guide for parentsand practitionersCompiled by Dinah Mears forthe ADVA partnershipadvaagainst domestic violence and abusein Devon

For ParentsThese ideas are to help you support yourchildren. Children who live with domesticviolence feel:Powerless:Because they can’t stop the violenceConfused:Because it doesn’t make senseAngry:Because it shouldn’t be happeningGuilty:Because they think they’ve done something wrongSad:Because it’s a lossAfraid:Because they may be hurt, they may lose someonethey love, others may find outAlone:Because they think it’s happening only to themWhat children need to hear about domestic violenceIt’s not okay It’s not your fault It must be scary for you I willlisten to you You can tell me how you feel; it is importantI’m sorry you had to see/hear it You do not deserve to have this inyour family I will help you to stay safe There is nothing youcould have done to prevent/change it We can talk about what to doto keep you safe if it happens again. (For example, staying in yourroom, going to neighbours, etc.) You are an individual and can choosenot to fight or hurt peopleHow to talk about your ex-partner:Speak about your “ex” in a general way Try to avoid “name calling”Challenge behaviour not the person Your child may still love theabusive parent and may be confused by feeling this way. This could behard for you too! But it will really help your child if she/he is able toexpress these feelings.Ideas for helping children when they’ve witnessed DV:Talk about it with them when they are ready Listen to themTalk about their feelings Show understanding Let them know it’snot their fault Let them talk, if they want to Let them knowyou will try to keep them safe/act in a way that is safe Let them knowthe violence is not okay Acknowledge it’s hard/scary for themAccept that they may not be willing or able to talk about it right awayAlways act in a way that is non-threatening and non-violent withyour kids Take them to counselling if they need it Let them bechildren and try to share your own worries with another adultSet limits respectfully if your child behaves in aviolent or abusive way.

How Denial affects ChildrenChild learns that the violence is normal Child is afraid to talk aboutthe violence Child is confused, doesn’t understand Blamesher/himself Learns to deny and not to talk about their own feelingsMakes them feel like they are crazy Makes them feel lonely,isolated from their friends Learns that its not okay to ask about theviolence or discuss it Gives the children unrealistic beliefsabout the causes of violenceIt’s a lot scarier for children when no one evertalks to them about the violenceExamples of Ways of Overcoming ObstaclesBe patient. Don’t push it. Try another time. They usually hear youanyway Acknowledge that it may be uncomfortable for youto talk abou the violence. Try to get more comfortable by talking tosomeone you trust Acknowledge that it may be scary for youto remember the violence. It’s scary for your kids too. Once you starttalking, it may feel less scary Acknowledge that saying thatyou don’t have time is probably because it’s difficult, or you don’tfeel capable of talking to your child about itAcknowledge that it may be uncomfortable foryou to talk about the violenceFor Practitioners:Benefits of Talking to Children about the ViolenceChildren feel safer They learn that violence isn’t their fault Theylearn that violence isn’t an okay way to solve problems It helpsthem to feel cared for, and understood Children learn that it’s OK totalk about feelingsEmotional Needs of Children Who Have WitnessedDomestic ViolenceFearAngerChild’s emotionFear of those they love intheir own home, where theyshould feel most safeAnger at the abuser, or atthe survivor for not leavingthe situationChild needs toBe able to talk to someonethey trust about theirfeelings, learn ways to keepthemselves safe and toknow they have a plan forwhat to do when there isviolence, have a feeling ofcontrol in the situation(I will go over to my neighbourswhen it happens)Learn that it’s okay to feelboth anger and love towardssomeone, know that it isokay to love their parenteven when they hate thebehaviour they see, knowthey are not bad if they lovethe abuserConfusionFeeling they need to takesides (e.g. if I love Mum,I can’t love Dad and viceversa)Know that it is okay to loveboth parents at the sametime

LossGuilt/ResponsibilityFeelinglife isunpredictableChild’s emotionLoss of a helathy, safe family,loss of one parent if theyleave (or the constant threatof this), loss of comfort inthe homeGuilt for causing theviolence, or not stopping itsomehow, responsible forpreventing the violence, andtaking care of Mum and thefamilyFeeling vulnerable on a dailybasis, with no power to controlabout what will happenChild needs toTalk about feelings withsomeone they trust,develop a support system ofextended family or friendsoutside the homeUnderstand that the violenceis not their fault, andthat it is an adult problemfor the adults to work outFind areas in their liveswhere they can have controland make plans and decisions,create a safety planwith someone they trust,create some structure andstability whenever possible(creating daily routines thatprovide a sense of control)Talking to children about Domestic Violence isvery difficult for most people and takes a lot of work,patience and commitment.Useful Contactswww.thehideout.org.ukWomen’s Aid website providing useful information and signposting specifically forchildren and young people living with domestic violence.www.exeterwomensaid.org.ukThe Safe Project 01392 667 147 PO Box 219 Exeter EX4 3XQThis is an Outreach project for girls and young women (aged 14-25) who are affectedby domestic violence. It covers Exeter, Mid-Devon and East Devon. The Safe Projectoffers confidential one-to-one support, telephone support, signposting, informationand training for agencies and information sessions in schools and youth clubs.www.home-start.org.uk00800 686 368www.e-parents .orgNational Family & Parenting Institute430 Highgate Studios, 53-70 Highgate RoadLondon NW5 1TLwww.oneparentfamilies.org.ukOne parent Families 0800 0185 026www.raisingkids.co.ukwww.parentingplus.org.ukParentline Plus 0808 800 2222www.urnotalone.comInteractive web site for childrenwww.childline.org.uk0800 1111 (24 hours a day)This web site provides information for both children and adults on issues of concernto children. Includes factsheets about different kinds of abuse, bullying, bereavement,peer pressure. All children and young people in trouble or danger can call forfree and confidential advice or just someone to talk to. No problem too big or toosmall. You don’t have to give your name. If you prefer, you can write to them at:Childline, Free Post 1111, London N1 OBR (no stamp needed)

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