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quick escape

Children Who Witness

How do you know if children are witnessing violence at home?

Children and adolescents need their parents to provide a caring and safe home where they can grow, learn and play. However, when a child sees, hears or knows that one parent is being hurt by another, then the security usually found at home is threatened. Often parents think children do not know about the abuse and violence that is happening. But children know more about what is happening than we think they do. They may hear or see the scary event occurring. Other times they know something bad happened because of the worry on a parent’s face, the injuries on a parent’s body, or things that are messed up or broken in the home.

Ways a person can be hurt by a partner include:

  • Disrespect: Interrupting. Changing topics. Not listening or responding. Twisting their words. Putting them down in public. Saying bad things about their friends or family.
  • Abusing Trust: Lying, withholding information. Cheating on them. Being overly jealous.
  • Breaking Promises: Not following through on agreements. Not taking a fair share of responsibility. Refusing to help with childcare or housework.
  • Economic Control: Interfering with their work or not letting them work. Refusing to give them money or taking their money. Taking their car keys or preventing them from using the car. Threatening to report them to welfare or other social service agencies.
  • Intimidation: Making a partner afraid by using looks, actions, smashing things, hurting pets. Using children to hurt or control a partner’s behavior.
  • Minimizing, Denying & Blaming: Making light of abusive behavior and not taking the victim’s concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn’t happen. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior.
  • Emotional Withholding: Not expressing feelings. Not giving support orattention. Not respecting feelings, rights, or opinions. 
  • Self-Destructive Behavior: Abusing drugs or alcohol. Threatening suicide or other forms of self-harm. Deliberately saying or doing things that will have negative consequences (e.g., telling off their boss).
  • Isolation: Preventing or making it difficult for them to see friends or relatives. Monitoring phone calls. Telling them where they can and cannot go.
  • Harassment: Making uninvited visits or calls. Following them. Checking up on them. Embarrassing them in public. Refusing to leave when asked.
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