If you’re mother who is a victim of physical or verbal abuse at home then odds are you’re spending a good amount of time worrying about protecting children from domestic violence. At the back of your mind you probably hope that your kids are not aware of the seriousness of the situation. However, research indicates that in a home where incidents of domestic violence are common children are well aware of the conflict and in most cases themselves become victims of abuse at the hands of the offender.
There is no denying the fact that constant incidences of domestic violence can have severe psychological, behavioral and physiological effects on kids. Children are, for the most part, dependent on adults and witnessing them engage in heating arguments or physical confrontations on regular basis can develop feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness and not to mention low self-esteem which can stick with them long after they’ve grown up. Furthermore, children might feel guilty and assume that the violence is their fault. That if they stay away from their mother for too long something terrible might happen to her and it is their job to prevent something like that from happening. This added sense of responsibility affects their school work and causes lack of concentration during classes.
What can mothers do?
In the midst of trying to mend things with their spouse/partner and enduring episodes of abuse mothers are constantly worried about the safety of their kids. Here are a few steps mothers can take to eliminate their kids’ exposure to domestic violence and ensure they have a safe home to return to:
Women’s Aid and other welfare organizations
Mothers can call Women’s Aid, social services or similar domestic violence organizations that aim to extend help to those in dire need. Social workers can assess the safety of the child in the home where they have to endure domestic violence and might relocate the child to a safer home if deemed unsuitable for their wellbeing. Alternatively, mothers can call the NSPCC National Child Protection Helpline at 0808 800 5000 to further discuss their options.
National Domestic Violence Helpline
If relationship with their husband continues to deteriorate at home and safety of the children is at stake then mothers have the option of calling the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0802 2000 247. Managed jointly by Women’s Aid and Refuge the organization can help mothers decide what they should do to ensure safety of their kids.
Move into a refuge
Refuge is a good domestic violence shelter for those looking to break away from the shackles of abuse. Mothers can prepare their kids in advance and have a discussion with them about what’s going on. They can make the process of moving to a refuge easy by telling their kids that they will be moving away for a while but will go back home soon once things are better.
Living in a refuge can have positive effects on children in the sense that they will be able to meet and interact with children who have experienced similar situations in their own lives. The feeling that they are not the only ones to encounter such violent behavior can help children understand their situation better and develop new relationships.