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Helping a Child Handle Domestic Violence
While I was growing up, I wished there was someone I could talk to about what was going on at home. I was threatened often by my mother to not tell anyone what was going on at home. I was recently talking to my oldest cousin about what went on in our home and she told me that almost everyone suspected something was going on but no one knew what to do. I think if someone would have just flat out asked me what was wrong, I would have spilled my little guts to all of them.
Working with or helping care for a child or children that have come from a violent home can be a tough roll to fill. One thing that the child will need most from you is honesty. Depending on the age of the child you are speaking to, a child may expect things to be fixed or put right. Be honest with what you can and canít do for the child and never make a promise that you canít keep.
Children who witness abuse often feel they somehow caused the violence in the home or did something to make the adults made. Children need to be reassured that it isnít anything they did. I tell my son mommy and daddy couldnít get along when we were together and he never did anything to provoke the violence. Children also need to feel that they are worthy of love not abuse.
If the child will be going home to the violence after speaking to you, help the child devise a safety plan. The child should be aware of many possible ways out of the house and where there is a pay phone if there isnít a neighbor nearby that can help.
Many children may already have a negative opinion about one or both parents. It is hard as adults not to talk bad about the parents who are engaging in violence but it is best to stay positive for the child. Focus on what the child wants, needs, and is feeling. The child is already under enough stress in the home. A child will need to be accepted into an environment that is safe, calm, and where they feel loved and not threatened.
All too often, the child is being abused as well. Trust your instincts. Call the proper authorities to report the child abuse. A child doesnít have to have bruises visible on their little bodies to be considered victims of abuse. The parent that is being abused may not know how to stop the abuse and have Child Protective Services step in could be a blessing for the home.
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