Helping Children

Helping Children Who Have Witnessed Domestic Violence

If you are the parent of a child who has experienced domestic violence in the home, you have a very important role in helping your child. It may seem like not talking about it will help your children forget it happened. However, not talking about the violence often causes children to be more confused and scared. You can help your children by getting safe yourself, talking to them, listening to them and recognizing that the violence affects them too.

Below are some simple ways to help children living with domestic violence:

  • Acknowledge that the violence happened, and that it is hard for them
  • Listen to them
  • Talk to them about their feelings
  • Accept that they may not be willing or able to talk about it right away
  • Show understanding
  • Let them know it is not their fault
  • Let them know that they are loved/cared about
  • Let them know the violence is not okay
  • Help them access ongoing counseling/support

Safety Planning With Your Children

It is important to help your children find ways to stay safe and get help if violence is happening at home. When talking to your children about safety, consider your child's age and what your child is actually able to do. Here are some examples of safety options to discuss with your children:

  • Go to their room, or another room that is away from the abuse
  • Leave the house and go somewhere safe, like a neighbor's house, a relative's house, or outside
  • Stay out of the way; get as far away from the violence as possible
  • Dial 911 if there is a phone that is in a safe place
  • Do not ever try to physically stop the violence
  • Tell your children that they cannot control the abusive person's behavior.

Most community-based domestic violence agencies have Kids Clubs, or specialized services for children. See the Support Agencies page for options.