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Children and Young People

What is abuse?

Domestic abuse is when one grown-up hurts or bullies another grown-up who is or was their partner.

Domestic abuse can happen between people who are boyfriend and girlfriend or who are married. It can happen when people live together or in different houses. Usually it is the man who hurts the woman.

Although domestic abuse happens between grown-ups, children see and hear what is happening and it affects them. Children can also be hurt or bullied as part of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse can be:

  • Physical – for example, hitting, pushing, kicking
  • Emotional – sayings things to frighten the other person or make them feel bad
  • Sexual – making someone do sexual things that they don’t want to
  • Financial – such as taking away the other person’s money, or not letting them get a job

Domestic abuse doesn’t just happen once, it’s not just an argument or a falling out. Grown-ups use domestic abuse to control other people. If someone in your family is abusive, remember it’s not your fault and it’s not the person who is being abused’s fault either.

What you can do

If you or your mum are being hurt and need help right away, you can call the police by dialling 999. You should give your name, address and telephone number and tell the police what is happening. Don’t hang up because the police will call back to make sure the call isn’t fake and this could give your dad, step-dad or mum’s boyfriend the chance to tell them everything is okay and the call was a mistake. If you can’t speak dial 55 so the police will know the call is real or leave the phone off the hook so they can hear what is going on.

The police will come to your house and talk to your mum, dad or any other adults. They may even talk to you. They should make sure you are okay and have not been hurt.

They may take away the person who was violent, shouting at or threatening your mum. Whatever happens you should remember that it is not your fault and your dad, step-dad or mum’s boyfriend/girlfriend has got themself into trouble.

If you are not in danger, the best thing you can do is speak to an adult you trust about what is happening. Maybe someone like a teacher, or perhaps a relative. You can also get in touch with an organisation like Childline (0800 1111) or the NSPCC (0808 800 5000) – calls are free and you don’t even have to give them your name.

There are lots of people who can help you and your mum – you don’t need to feel alone. Everyone has the right to be and feel safe.

Dealing with your feelings

Feelings are reactions to things we go through and the situations we’re in. When things aren’t good at home, for example if someone is abusive, you might have lots of different feelings – such as feeling sad, scared, angry, guilty – or you might not be sure how you feel. Everyone feels something a bit different. There are no “right” or “wrong” feelings.

Do you know what makes you feel a certain way? Do you feel angry or sad? What happened right before you started feeling that way? This is probably what caused you to feel this way.

Noticing how your body feels when you’re feeling a certain way is a good way to learning how to deal cope. Listen to your body – it ‘talks’ to you – it gives you signals that let you know how you’re feeling. Reading these signals allows you to react appropriately to how you’re feeling.

It can be difficult sometimes to know how to deal with what you are feeling. It’s really important to remember that you can’t always control your feelings, but you can choose what you do about them. For example, when you feel angry with someone, you could hit them, shout at them, or just walk away.

Part of learning how to deal with your feelings is sorting out what your choices are. Hurting someone else or hurting yourself is never a good response to feelings! There are always other solutions and other ways of expressing your feelings.

Next time you feel angry or sad, or another way that you don’t like, try to do something that makes you feel better like:

  • Take a deep breath and count to ten
  • Talk to someone about your worries
  • Find an empty space (a field, an empty room) and shout as loud as you can
  • Write down how you are feeling, maybe in a diary
  • If you’re upset with someone, you can write them a letter – you don’t have to give it to them if you don’t want to
  • Draw a picture
  • Make a list of things that make you happy
  • Cry
  • Play a game
  • Do some sport or exercise
  • Sing or dance to your favourite tunes
  • Take a walk
  • Bake a cake
  • Read a book
  • Hang out with a friend
  • Phone or text a friend
  • Listen to some music or play a musical instrument

Don’t:

  • Take drugs
  • Drink alcohol
  • Stop eating
  • Binge eat
  • Harm yourself
  • Skip school
  • Run away
  • Destroy property/things
  • Take out your feelings on others by being violence or abusive

You might think these things will make you feel better. They might help shut out your feelings for a while, but they won’t solve the problem and will probably make you feel even worse. You could also hurt yourself or someone else.

If you feel really bad, talk to someone you trust who can get you help or contact one of the helplines.”

In the how can I help my children section the following should be a separate bit its run into the previous question

– What you can do to support your children:

– Getting support for yourself (this can be from family and friends or professionals) to ensure you are as ok as you can be, as if you are struggling it will make it harder for you to help your children

– Talking to them about what to do if they get scared, where they can go and what they can do, make a safety plan with them

– Letting them know that they aren’t to blame for what has happened, it’s not their fault just like it’s not yours

– Letting them know that its ok to talk about what is happening with people they trust (this could be grandparents, teachers etc)

– Not talking to them about things they don’t need to know, while they may be the only person you feel you can talk to, they are children and don’t need to know all the details about what is happening.

– Recognize their feelings and that how they saw things happen may be different from you but that this doesn’t mean that they are or you are wrong

– Ensure there are routines and rules for your children

– If you have had to move helping your child to build up networks in the new area or if safe keeping in contact with people from where you stayed before

– Talking to them about how they are feeling and helping them develop ways of coping with difficult emotions

– Have fun together