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Family, domestic violence and children

If there is violence in your home or if you are worried about the safety of a family member, Kids Helpline is there to help you.

You can call them anytime for any reason on 1800 55 1800.

Family and domestic violence is when one parent fights, scares or bullies the other. There might be yelling, screaming and hitting. Unfortunately family and domestic violence happens all too often in homes all around Australia. This is awful for everybody especially for kids. 

If family or domestic violence happens in your house, you might feel confused and you might have all sorts of other feelings that don't make a lot of sense. Every child and young person can feel differently when they experience family and domestic violence there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to feel.

How does violence impact children?

Some of the things you might feel:

  • scared
  • confused
  • angry
  • worried
  • anxious
  • nervous
  • sad
  • disappointed
  • ashamed
  • frightened

Family and domestic violence can seriously affect children and young people in many ways. Some of the visible impacts can be:

  • depression and anxiety
  • withdrawal from friends or social life
  • taking on a caretaker role prematurely, trying to protect the family member experiencing violence
  • poorly developed communication skills
  • parent-child conflict
  • embarrassment or shame about family
  • poor self-image and low self-esteem
  • eating disorders
  • low academic achievement or dropping out from school
  • leaving home early or staying away from home for extended periods
  • running away from home
  • feeling isolated from others
  • violent outbursts
  • participating in dangerous risk-taking behaviours to impress peers
  • alcohol and substance abuse
  •  difficulty communicating feelings
  • nightmares
  •  experiencing violence in their own dating relationships
  • entering a marriage or relationship early to escape the family home or situation
  • physical injuries when they try to intervene to protect the family member experiencing violence

What to do?

If you’re a child or young person experiencing family or domestic violence, there are some things you can do to manage how you are feeling: 

  • talk to an adult you trust about what is happening - this could be your teacher, a friend, school counsellor, grandparent, aunt or uncle
  • write down how you're feeling/ draw a picture/ listen to music
  • phone or text a friend
  • play a game with your brother or sister
  • make a list of what you like doing that makes you feel happy
  • do some exercise like go for a walk or a run or play some sport
  • have a cry 
  • find an empty place where you won't disturb anyone and shout as loud as you can
  • take a deep breath and count to 10

What to do if fighting starts:

The most important thing you can do is make sure you are safe. NEVER ever try to stop the fighting because you can get hurt.

  • Leave the room where the fighting is happening straight away
  • Go somewhere safe like your bedroom or outside to hide and wait there until it is safe to come out
  • If you have brothers and sisters try to all wait together
  • If you have a phone you can call for help - ring the police on 000, ring a neighbour\

*Content sourced from The Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast Inc.

Many expressions of The Salvation Army offer playgroups, kids’ clubs, music programs and mother’s groups to children who have been affected by family violence. It is a great opportunity to heal among friends who understand what you are going through. Local Salvation Army corps (churches) offer many of these programs and warmly welcome new families. 

Resources

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The Salvation Army is a child safe organisation that is committed to ensuring the wellbeing of children and young people, and protecting them from harm.

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