Can you envision how people feel when suffering — physically, verbally, or emotionally — by the people they should be able to depend on for love, care, and protection?
There are children worldwide witnessing abuse in their everyday life.
People should be equipped to recognize and protect against it. We would like to increase awareness about family violence and where to go if you are impacted by this.
There are many factors that can cause abusive behaviour within families. Underlying anger, inability to communicate, sense of powerlessness, and low self-esteem can all lead to some form of abuse which should never be tolerated. Other factors can be – beliefs about gender, children exposed to role models of dominance and control or children who have not learned to speak up for themselves assertively. They may grow up displaying such attitudes and behaviors themselves.
Children, youth, and adults can be taught to recognize anger arising in themselves or others and to seek understanding of the underlying feelings and needs, rather than lashing out. Focusing on self-awareness, communication, and conflict management helps people learn how to avoid being provoked by anger into acting against their own morals, which deeply reduces self-esteem and often creates a nasty cycle of increasing shame and escalating abuse.
Our hope is that if you are being abused, you will be able to find a way to safely leave the abusive relationship. However, the reality is that for many reasons, some victims are not able to leave an abusive relationship once the abuse begins. If you’re in a physically abusive relationship, please consider the following tips if you are not yet able to leave:
- The abuser may have patterns to his/her abuse. Try to be aware of any signs that show s/he is about to become violent so that you can assess how dangerous the situation may be for you and your children.
- If it looks like violence may happen, try to remove yourself and your children from the situation before the violence begins.
- Figure out where the “safer places” are in your home – the places where there aren’t weapons within arm’s reach. If it looks like the abuser is about to hurt you, get to a safer place. Stay out of the kitchen, garage, workshop or other room where items that can be used as weapons are kept.
- If the abuser does start to harm you, don’t run to where the children are; the abuser may hurt them too.
- If there’s no way to escape the violence at that moment, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball. Protect your face and put your arms around each side of your head, wrapping your fingers together.
- Create a plan with your children for when violence happens. Tell them not to get involved if the abuser is hurting you since that may get them hurt. Decide on a code word to let them know that they should leave the house and get help. If the abuser won’t let them leave the house safely, figure out with them where would be a safe place for them to go within the house where they can call for help (such as a room with a lock and a phone). Make sure they know that their first priority is to stay safe, not to physically protect you.
- Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that the violence isn’t their fault or your fault. Tell them that when anyone is being violent, it is important to keep safe.
- Let friends and neighbors who you trust know what is going on in your home. Make a plan with them so that they know when you need help what to do such as calling the police or banging on your door. Make up a signal with a neighbor, like flashing the lights on and off to alert him/her that you need help.
- If you can, call a domestic violence hotline from time to time to discuss your options and to talk to someone who understands you, even if you feel that you are not ready to leave.
If you can, always have a phone where you know you can get to it. Know the numbers to call for help. You should also document the abuse by taking photographs of bruises and injuries, tell your doctor and get copies of your medical records. Save threatening voicemails, notes and emails and write every incident down on a hidden diary.
There are several ways to seek help and guidance whether you are a youth or an adult. There are many services offered in these types of situations. For example, if you need to talk about safety planning, you need some supportive listening or for referrals and advocacy.
Estella’s Place is a walk-in service for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The 24-Hour Crisis Line can be contacted on 9423 2422.
Kids Helpline is a free helpline service for children and young adults up to the age of 18 and can be contacted at 649 5437.
TAYA (Teens and Young Adults) Lounge is a place where at-risk youth ages 14-21 can address, build, and strengthen relationships with their peers and families.