Here is some information about working with children who have witnessed relationship abuse. Remember that it is the perpetrator’s (those who choose to do harm) choice to expose their children to violence. Do not blame the parent who is a survivor for the violence that is being perpetrated against them. Hold the perpetrator responsible for their actions.

  • You don’t need to keep secrets when you feel scared or sad.
  • You are not to blame for the violence in your home.
  • Identify escape routes from the house and where to meet outside.
  • Identify an adult you trust and tell them when something is happening in your house.
  • Anger and frustration are okay but violence is not.
  • There are safe places for your mom to take you.
  • It’s okay to feel mixed up about things.
  • It is okay to like your dad and at the same time not like him when he is violent and hurting family members.
  • Focus on keeping yourself safe when your parent abuses.
  • Don’t get in the middle of a fight.

There are ways to call for help:

  • Call the police (911).
  • Go to your safe place you have planned about before.
  • Go to a neighbor’s home.
  • Keep your younger siblings in a safe place.

From: Ganley, A., Schuster, S. Domestic Violence: A National Curriculum for protective
services. Family violence prevention fund, 1996

Stay out of the fight.

  • You may want to get in the middle of the fight to protect and help your parent, but this is not a safe thing for you to do. Your parent will want you to be safe.
  • Stay out of the room where the fighting is happening.

Avoid getting trapped in a closet or the kitchen.

  • You may feel like hiding, but if you go into a corner or closet, it may be hard to get out again safely. Try to find a safe place to hide in advance.
  • Try not to hide in the kitchen where there are objects that can be used as weapons.

Find a phone in a safe place. Call 911 for help and stay on the phone.

  • Use a phone out of reach or out of sight of the abuser.
  • If you can’t reach a phone safely in your own house, go to a neighbor, relative, or friend you trust and ask if you can use the phone.
  • Call 911 or your local police emergency number and stay on the phone until someone answers.
  • Tell the dispatcher what is happening in your home and ask for immediate help.
  • Give the dispatcher your address.

Escape to a safe place. Find a relative or neighbor and ask for their help.

  • Think about which grownups you would feel safe talking to.
  • Don’t give up if the first person you go to won’t help. Try another adult. Keep trying until you find someone to help you.