Violence at Home Can Make You Feel Bad
The violence at home may be directed at your mother and you may see this happening. The violence may also be towards you. This is called child abuse. It can make you feel really sad and awful. Often children think they have something to cause the violence in their family. This is not true, but sometimes you might:
- Blame yourself for the violence
- Feel frightened, sad, ashamed, confused or unhappy
- Feel sick, have stomach pains or headaches
- Stop eating or not feel like eating
- Cry a lot
- Sleep badly or have nightmares or wet the bed
- Find school difficult
- Lose interest in your school work or your friends
- Take drugs or alcohol to cope
- Feel like running away
- Feel angry and want to hurt yourself or somebody else or to smash something
- Have trouble talking - for example, you might stutter
- Worry about your mother's safety
Family violence can mean lots of different things - it's not just being hit. There are different kinds of violence that can happen in the home. The violence may be directed at your mother, at the children only, or at the children and mother. Some examples of violence that may affect you are:
- Physical Violence-someone hurting you by hitting, slapping, shoving, pushing, biting, kicking or burning you. Someone throwing or breaking things in your home. Seeing your mother or brother or sister hurt or threatened in any of these ways. Someone hurting your pets.
- Verbal Violence - someone hurting you by telling mean and nasty things at you, calling you rude names, or shouting or talking to you in a scary or threatening way. Hearing someone speak to your mother like this.
- Sexual Violence - someone hurting you by touching private parts of your body when you do not want them to, touching you in a sexual way or forcing you to have sex.
- Neglect - someone hurting you by not giving you care, food, clean things, safety, clothing and love.
There are important things you should remember if you think that you, your mother or anyone in your family is being abused. These include:
- Someone may try to make you feel ashamed or guilty about what is happening. You are not to blame for something they have done wrong. It is not your fault and it's not a special secret.
- Don't believe them if they say something bad will happen to you if you tell; there are people who can help you.
- It is an unsafe secret to keep: it's okay to tell someone and it will help you or your mother to be safe
- Nothing is so awful that it can't be talked about
- Help is available
You can report family violence at home and get help in many ways:
- Find someone who you trust to tell (perhaps a neighbour, a teacher or a friend's mother).
- Tell a trusted adult who can keep you safe and help stop the abuse at home.
- Take your time and try to explain how you or your mother has been hurt. It may be very difficult or scary for you to tell and it may be hard for you to find the right words to explain. Just do the best you can to explain.
- Try using the phone, writing things down, drawing a picture or sending an email - lots of people find talking face-to-face very difficult, not just kids.
- If the person hurting you or your mother is someone in your family, you may feel safer if you tell someone outside your family - like your teacher or a Kids Help Line counsellor (see Where to get help below).
There are ways that you can stay safe including:
- Talk to people - find someone you can trust and who will listen to you. It might be someone in your family, your friends' parents, a cousellor, your teacher, the police or another trusted adult. They will help protect you.
- Keep on telling different people - if your problem is not being fixed, keep telling people until you feel safe.
- Remember that your body belongs to you - no one should touch any part of your body in a way that makes you feel scared or confused or hurt. This includes your private parts. It is okay to tell someone to stop if they are touching you in a way that hurts or makes you uncomfortable.
- Know the difference between safe and unsafe touching - some touching is friendly and helpful such as hugging, holding hands with a friend, play wrestling with your brother or giving your sister a shoulder massage.
- Kids Help Line counsellors Tel. 1800 551 800 or get help via the Internet www.kidshelp.com.au
- Police Tel. 000
- Child Protection CrisisLine: Department of Human Services. 24 hour service Tel. 131 278
- Trusted family member or friend
- Teacher, school counsellor or trusted adult
- Family violence is never your fault
- Learn how to stay safe
- Get help by telling someone about the problem