Children and young people support
Children and young people are also impacted upon by living with domestic and family violence. Even if they don’t see the violence, kids can be affected by living in a fearful, hostile or unpredictable environment.
Children who have experienced domestic and family violence may exhibit emotional and behavioral difficulties including:
- aggression (towards other family members, pets, etc)
- regression in development (return to younger behaviours e.g. bedwetting, whining, tantrums, specific fears)
- problems concentrating/ forgetfulness
- treating mum like her partner treats her
- easily distracted
- fighting at school
- problems with school work
- lying, stealing
- withdrawn, ‘spaced out’
- unusual shyness
- disturbed sleep, nightmares
- easily startled
- unable to play
- trouble making friends
- physical illness (stomach ache, headaches)
- always on the lookout for signs of future violence or conflict.
Children who have experienced domestic violence may learn that:
- violence is an appropriate way to solve problems and deal with conflict
- the violence is their fault
- the violence is their non violent care-givers fault
- they are responsible for stopping the violence
- domestic violence is a secret
- violence is normal in families
- men have the right to control women.
Children who have experienced domestic and family violence need:
- the violence to stop
- to feel safe
- to be soothed
- predictability in their environment
Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) provides short term domestic violence counselling for children (ages 5-17) and their non-violent caregiver. BDVS provides 4-6 weeks of free counselling, offering a flexible combination of individual and family sessions. Sessions can focus on:
- acknowledging children’s of experience of violence
- exploration and expression of feelings and worries
- developing coping strategies
- strengthening relationship between non-violent caregiver and children
- alternatives to violence
- safety planning/protective behaviours
- referral to longer term counselling/other services.
Sometimes when children and young people are still living in violence it’s not safe for them to attend counselling. BDVS can work with the non-violent care-giver around how to support the children and enhance their safety needs.