How does it effect children?
Each child deals with domestic abuse in a different way. It is important not to pretend it does not affect them, it does. We need to talk and listen to the children involved so that we can support them. They need to be reassured that it is NOT their fault.
Children living in an abusive home may feel confused, scared, and nervous. Quite often they learn how to hide emotions. If their mum is keeping it a secret they may feel they also should. They could well have been told or begged by the mother or father to keep it secret.
When children (and adults) are unable to express true feelings it can often result in behavioural issues. For example, some children may become aggressive at school, either due to their anger at the situation they face at home or because they are mimicking the behaviour seen at home. Other children may become the ‘perfect’ student, always wanting to please and do everything perfectly to avoid conflict and disappointment. Children may start wetting the bed, having nightmares and getting headaches. Some children pretend to be ill to enable them to stay home and ‘protect’ their mother.
It is important to allow the child to work through their emotions in a healthy way. With support children are able to cope, process and move on. Just because they have witnessed an abusive relationship does not mean they cannot carry on to lead happy lives. Let them ask questions and answer in a way suitable to their age. Talk about feelings and how to deal with them in a positive way.
Teach them that abuse is NOT acceptable behaviour. Help them to feel safe, explain to them about 999 and how to speak to the police. Teach them how to ask for and accept help by doing it yourself. Tell them and show them how much you love them every day.