Children who witness domestic abuse may be traumatized and they may require special care and attention. The longer the child lives in this environment, the more complex their symptoms may be. You may not be in the best frame of mind since you are the one who has suffered from the abuse but your children need you. Here are some possible actions that may be considered in order to assist your child with the healing process.
Speak Honestly With Your Child
It is important to talk with your child about what is happening. Ensure that the conversation is age appropriate. Listen carefully to what is said. Do not attempt to force your child to speak about anything they do not want to. Be patient, gentle and calm. Try not to do anything to push your child further away. Speak as simply as you can to avoid misunderstanding or confusion. As your child opens up to you about how they are feeling, be realistic and honest with your answers. This may affect their trust in you. For example, you telling your child that the abuse will not happen again and then it does. Your child may learn to distrust adults. They may lose confidence in you. Do not make promises that you cannot keep. If the child is not up to speaking, then you can try spending more time with them. You can play a game that they enjoy. Depending on the age of the child, you could read with them or engage in a household activity that requires you to work closely together, for example cooking. You can use these activities to strengthen your bond with your child so they will communicate with you when they are ready.
Reassure Your Child
Your child may have developed different feelings such as fear or resentment. You may need to reassure them. You can start by regularly checking in on them so that they can feel your love and know that you value them. Physical contact is important. You can hug or lightly touch them as much as they will allow. Do not be put off by a teen that may make a fuss about this. They may just be putting on a show. Assert your love for your child and seek to reduce any anger or hatred they may feel. If your child is exhibiting unacceptable behaviour, then you can make clear what is expected of them. If the abuser is still present in your life, then you can let your child know that you will do everything that you can to keep them safe. You should also make an emergency plan and drill your child in what they are to do if you decide to take action and leave.
Encourage Your Child To Join A Club Or Group
It may be difficult to get your child to join a group. However, there are many benefits of group activities. So do not give up easily. Be aware that your child may not integrate quickly with this new club or group. Be present as often as possible so that you can determine their progress. Being a part of a club or group will allow your child to interact socially with others of the same or similar age group. This may lead to new friendships and acceptance. These are important for your child’s development and a group may give them a safe place that they can enjoy. There are many options available in different clubs from active to intellectual, as well as volunteering for a good cause. If you are unable to find an extracurricular activity for your child, then you may want to consider occupying their time yourself. This can be done by taking walks or an artistic outlet, for example painting. If this is the decision you make, you can still encourage your child to make friends because this may contribute to their confidence and overall happiness.
Having a safe and loving environment is not only important for your child but certainly for you as well. If you are still living with abuse, then please get a copy of the book “Time To Go”. It has important information about how to leave an abusive relationship. It also identifies the different types of abuse. You can use the information gained to help you make an informed decision. Also, feel free to set up an appointment to get clarity and strategise your next best steps. Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment your thoughts and experiences below.