Keeping Children Safe

Recently, one child at Bonnie’s said, “My father is a lion, and I am a sheep” . He was describing what it felt like being in the house when he was unable to help his mother.

Most of the children we see every day at Bonnie’s could identify at least one of the following feelings when there is domestic violence at home. They might say they are hurt, afraid, angry, guilty, confused, worried. They have strong feelings of loss and the unpredictability of their lives.

Children often say they feel like they are in a tug of war. They feel they have to juggle both pleasing the abusive parent and protecting the abused family members. They are tired and constantly vigilant. They are walking on eggshells.

When life is like this, everything else comes second; their schooling, their identity, their ability to make lasting friendship and at times, how they see their worth in the world.

For most women, fears for their children’s happiness and safety, is one of the main factors in their decision to stay or leave a domestic violence relationship.

And this is a valid fear. Children do suffer under domestic violence even if it is not focused directly on them. Children see and hear more than we know but that doesn’t mean they can understand what they are experiencing. Or know how to deal with it.

You can help your child not just in the decisions you make but in how and what you communicate.

post-KeepChildrenSafe-1Children need to know…

  • It’s alright for them to fear and still love their abusive parent: love is not wrong but violence is.
  • What is happening is not their fault and sometimes situations are out of their control.
  • That you are doing your best to keep them safe and are acting in a way that can keep them and yourself safe.
  • That you love them, and they can talk to you about their feelings. Don’t push them to talk but offer to be there when they are ready.

Get help

If you feel your child needs more, talk to your GP to seek a counsellor. Your community centre can provide information about youth workers.

And of course, there’s Bonnie’s…

If you are worried and need assistance to leave your situation, contact us. We can help with advice and a personalised safety plan.

Don’t forget it is National Child Protection Week. Visit the NAPCAN website here to find out what’s on.

Written by An

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