To Help Kids Who Have Witnessed Domestic Violence.
- Provide them with a space to talk about what happened. Younger kids may lack the ability to express their emotions. Perhaps propose drawing activities to help them express themselves and what happened. Do not push the child to talk, he will in his own time. Rather, create an atmosphere which is favorable to confidence and the expression of emotions.
- Do not make promises to “keep the secret” because if the child divulges abuse on himself (or herself), you won’t be able to keep that promise. Rather, tell the child that he/she is safe with you and that if there is something he/she would like to talk about, you will be able to help.
- Tell the child it wasn’t her/his fault.
- If the child shows violent behaviors it is important to take position against violence, in all its shapes or forms. However, it is important to remember that most children who suffer from PTSD will act out and thus, their “violence” is not a sign that the child is himself “violent like his father”. In this sense, it is important to give the child a space to express his anger and feelings in non-threatening ways. These children do not need to be disciplined, they need to be understood.
- Give the child some time to open up to you. His/her trust has been harshly tested and it may take them time to open up to your efforts.
- It may be important to seek professional consultation for children who have witnessed domestic violence.