From a kid’s point of view
What they’re thinking
Trauma can influence the way young people think about themselves, the way their brain develops and how they interact with you.
Family violence can be an isolating and shameful experience and many young people blame themselves. If they feel unable to escape they may try to avoid dealing with the violence by becoming quiet and withdrawing from the world.
If they’ve witnessed or participated in the violence they could become aggressive, anxious and defiant.
Positive adult role models like you can let them know they’re not alone, help them to understand their feelings and recover. Here are some things they may be thinking and some ideas you can offer instead.
Some children and young people feel responsible for the safety of their mum and younger siblings; they might ‘act like the parent’ themselves. Positive role models could reiterate that they are not responsible for the safety of others.
Children/young people experiencing family violence are likely to be thinking:
- The violence is my fault, I am to blame
- Mum should not have left dad/should have left dad sooner
- It is my fault mum left dad
- If only I’d been good this would not have happened
- Mum should not have put up with the violence/why did mum put up with it?
- I should have protected my mum more
- How come dad says sorry but does it all over again
- Dad says he loves mum and us, so why does he hit her/us
- I am scared of my dad but I love him too
- Dad says I am going to live with him
- I don’t care, it hasn’t affected me
- Our family is no good/bad
- Dad says mum is crazy/mum says dad is crazy
- … said I have to see my dad but I don’t want to…
- Only crazy people go to counselling!
- They/you are going to take me away and put me in a home
- I am too embarrassed and ashamed to talk about it
Counter thoughts you can offer them:
- The perpetrator is always at fault for the violence, never the victim
- Violence is against the law
- There are no excuses for family violence, being violent/abusive is a choice
- There are many ways of responding to strong feelings other than violence
- No one can ‘provoke’ someone into being violent / abusive
- Being drunk / angry / stressed / sad is never an excuse for violence
- Everyone has the right to feel and be safe
- You are not alone, sadly a lot of other children have had similar experiences