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If you are a child or young person witnessing domestic violence in the home you may be feeling very alone, frightened, depressed, confused, isolated. Your school work may be suffering, you may be experiencing difficulties in making friends and relationships, you may be harming yourself in some way as a means of coping with the circumstances at home.
It is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. SupportLine is a confidential telephone helpline which will enable you to talk to a helpline worker about what is going on for you. You will be listened to and believed. You can do this in complete confidence and anonymously and no action will be taken unless you want it to be taken. You will be in control of what happens unless the helpline worker feels your life is in danger and then will let you know what action they will take for your safety. There are also other helplines you can ring such as Childline which is a free 24hour helpline for children and young people. There may be someone in your family circle who you could talk to - an aunt, uncle, grandparent etc., or a school teacher or youth worker. It is important to get some support for yourself.
You may feel in some way responsible for the violence which is taking place - remember IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE.
You may feel guilty you cannot protect the parent who is being subjected to violence. IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT YOUR PARENT.
You may feel you are being disloyal to the parent who is being violent by speaking about what is happening within the home to other people. A PARENT WHO IS VIOLENT NEEDS HELP JUST AS THE PARENT WHO IS BEING SUBJECTED TO VIOLENCE NEEDS HELP.
These are all natural feelings to have and feelings which you can talk through with someone who understands what you are going through.
DON'T TRY TO COPE ON YOUR OWN - TRY TO GET AS MUCH HELP AND SUPPORT FOR YOURSELF AS YOU CAN.
Organisations which may be useful to you
If you think a child is being abused please report those concerns to the local Police Child Protection Team, Social Services Child Protection Team and/or the NSPCC. Please don’t leave it to someone else. After reporting your concerns if you think the abuse is still continuing then report it again. The NSPCC numbers to ring are below. Your local Police Child Protection Team and Social Services Child Protection Team can be found in your local phone book or by ringing directory enquiries.
Organisations which may be useful to you
Domestic violence can happen to anyone. Although the majority of incidents involving domestic violence involves men being violent to women, men can be victims of domestic violence too. The first step is to recognise that you are in a violent relationship which won't change unless you do something about it.
Domestic violence includes physical, emotional, sexual or mental abuse.
It may be that the abuse has been going on for some time - perhaps even for years. You may be staying with your abusive partner for a variety of reasons:
Staying for the sake of the children : Children are often aware of the difficulties in their parents relationships. Children who are brought up in an atmosphere of fear, anger, rows, violence, often suffer tremendously because of the situation at home. They may become introverted, withdrawn, start wetting the bed, have difficulty in sleeping, try to avoid school, have difficulty in concentrating at school, have problems doing their homework, are reluctant to bring friends home which can lead to lack of friends and isolation, can exhibit behavioural problems both in and out of school, can become aggressive like the abusive parent, can experience feelings of confusion, sadness, anger, anxiety, depression, and may be dealing with this by using unhealthy coping strategies such as eating disorders and self harm. If your abusive partner is hitting you, he/she can also turn on your children and they may be at risk of abuse.
It is also giving your child an unhealthy role model to follow and the child could grow up to think it is perfectly acceptable to be abusive and violent which means your child could act in the same way when he/she becomes an adult and starts forming relationships. It is better for a child to be brought up in a happy, safe, secure, loving home by one parent than be brought up in a home where a parent is abusive to their partner and domestic violence is taking place. You have a responsibility to protect your children as they cannot protect themselves. If you are currently in this situation you need to ask yourself are you really doing the right thing by staying for the sake of your children?
Staying because you still think your partner will change. Your partner has to want to change and accept he/she has a problem. No doubt he/she is blaming you and is unwilling to see that he/she has a problem. Unless your partner admits the problem and seeks help it is highly unlikely your partner will change and the cycle of abuse may continue for years and years. If an abusive partner is willing to accept responsibility that he/she has a problem, and gets help, through hard work and determination and counselling, workshops etc. it is possible to change and to learn new patterns of behaviour but the person has to want to change and want to do something about it.
Staying because you still love your partner . Yes, you may still love your partner but it is possible to love someone and for it not to be healthy for you to stay in that relationship and be together. Each time your partner is abusive to you he/she no doubt apologises profusely, may buy you presents, flowers etc. and promises not to do it again and that it will never ever happen again. These are invariably false and empty promises. Your partner probably makes you feel that you are to blame for the violence and everything is your fault. Each time your partner is violent towards you it may be easier for you to block of the violence and focus on the times in between when he/she may seem caring and loving. That is not reality and you need to be able to accept the reality if you are ever able to move away from your abusive relationship.
The one place you should be able to feel safe and secure is in your own home. You should be able to have control over your own life, choices and decisions. In an abusive relationship you are not able to do this and in effect have little or no control over your own life. Abuse affects your self respect, self esteem, self worth, often making you believe you are a nothing and therefore don't deserve to be treated better.
You deserve to be treated with respect at all times, to be treated in a caring, loving way. To feel safe in your own home. You do not deserve to live in an atmosphere of fear. You may be staying because your self esteem is already low from previous abusive relationships, and perhaps abuse as a child. When are you going to stop the cycle of staying in abusive relationships? If you love someone but they are damaging your health, your safety, your self esteem, and controlling your life - is it really right to stay with that person? Do you not deserve to be happy, to take control of your own life, to be in a loving relationship, to feel safe in the world? Everyone deserves that and you have the strength within you to change your life and to move out of an abusive relationship.
There are agencies who can advise on accommodation, on legal matters, who can give emotional support and counselling to help build up your self esteem and to help you to move towards taking control of your own life and walking away from this relationship and abusive relationships in the future.
For anyone being subjected to domestic violence it is important to seek help and support for yourself. Talk to a confidential helpline, a trusted friend, a family member, your local Police Community Safety Unit. There are people who will want to help and support you in whatever way they can.
Organisations which provide support and information for victims of domestic violence
My Life Now: Starting Over After An Abusive Relationship or Domestic
Violence by Meg Dugan, Roger Hock - Publishers Routledge:
If you are a male victim of domestic violence, you may have found it difficult to find adequate help and support. Unfortunately there is still a belief among some that men simply cannot be victims of domestic violence. This can make it even more difficult for male victims to confide in anyone about what is happening which can lead to depression, despair, low self esteem, a feeling of hopelessness and isolation.
If you are a man who is being abused in this way there ARE people out there who can offer support, understanding, information, advice, help! People who will not ignore or dismiss what is happening to you, but people who will genuinely care and want to be there for you in whatever way they can.
If you are a victim of domestic violence there are some steps you can take:
Agencies offering support to Male Victims
If you are violent in your relationship you are a Perpetrator of Domestic Violence and need to accept that fact and try and get help. If you are being physically violent, emotionally abusing your partner, intimidating your partner, controlling your partner, sexually abusing your partner - you are a Perpetrator of Domestic Violence.
Many perpetrators of domestic violence constantly put the blame on their partner - I'll stop hitting you if you do this - if you do that - if you stop winding me up - ifyou do what I say etc. etc. The only person who is responsible for your actions is YOU. By blaming others you are acting like a child - it is time to act like an adult and accept responsibility for your own actions. The time to get help is NOW - not to keep putting it off or denying that you need help. What you are doing is not only against the law but you are ultimately destroying another person, destroying their confidence, their trust, their self esteem and their respect for you.
If you don't get help to stop what you are doing this kind of behaviour will be carried on into all your relationships leaving broken relationships, unhappy relationships, fearful relationships for your partner. You have to want to get help for YOU, to be prepared to work hard on yourself and to face up to what you are doing and the damage you are causing your partner and also any children which may be involved in the relationship.
You may have been abusing your partner(s) for many years and got away with it as your partner has been too frightened to give evidence - THE LAW IS CHANGING AND THE LAW WILL CATCH UP WITH YOU. THE POLICE WILL BE ABLE TO PROSECUTE WITHOUT ALWAYS HAVING EVIDENCE OR A STATEMENT FROM YOUR PARTNER SO YOU NEED TO GET HELP TO STOP ABUSING BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE AND THE CHOICE WILL BE TAKEN OUT OF YOUR HANDS AND YOUR FREEDOM TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU. (It may also help you to read the section on Anger Management).
To be able to take responsibility for your actions and to stop blaming others takes strength and courage. Anyone who rules others through fear and intimidation is a cowardly weak person. If you are a perpetrator of domestic violence you can choose what kind of person you want to be - cowardly and weak (blaming others for your actions and continuing your abusive behaviour) or strong and courageous (facing up to and taking responsibility for your actions and getting help). If you choose the latter then try and get help now - there are agencies who can provide workshops and counselling to help you to stop this cycle of abuse.
Agencies providing help and support for perpetrators of domestic violence