Family is where children and youth should feel safe and loved. We expect family members to show respect for each other, like we expect it from all other people we meet. You have the right to express opinions and all other members have the same right, including your parents. When parents’ opinions are in disagreement, they still have the right to express them, of course, showing respect for others.

However, in some families it happens that one/both parents do not show respect for others. Instead of respect, the parent hurts, controls, intimidates, breaks things around the home or hits the other parent. Such behaviour is violent, and when it happens in the family, it is domestic violence.

Forms of domestic violence

Many adults, and children, too, believe that violence is only when someone hits you, but other forms of violence also hurt. Domestic violence includes:

– verbal abuse, threats, intimidating, blackmailing,

– constant control of money,

– denying the other the right to work,

– interfering with contacts with other family members and

– sexual maltreatment.

If a child or a young person sees and hears violent behaviours in the family, notices injuries inflicted on the parent, or if s/he attempts to protect one of the parents, s/he experiences difficult and intimidating event hart to cope with on his/her own. Although sometimes the parent is not violent towards the child directly, life in the family where we can see violence among those we live with can be equally difficult as if we experience violence.

If you watch violence among parents, it is violence towards you, too!

If your friend lives with violent parent/s, it is the violence against him/her, too.

Some children who live in violent families openly speak about their feelings. So we can hear them saying that:

– they are nervous all the time

– they feel guilty

– they are sad

– they are angry

– they feel uneasy to tell someone

– they cannot sleep, learn

– they are unwilling to socialise with friends

– they often suffer from stomachache, headache

– they are scared

These are all expected reactions to difficult events which they experience and are not responsible for.

What can you do?

Every child has the right to grow at a safe and happy place. What you can do so that your or your friend’s home becomes a safe place:

– give a ring to the help-line for abused or neglected children or some other help-line, or a counselling center

– talk to an adult you trust, e.g. your teacher or a family member

– talk to your physician or a professional assistant at school…

We know it is not always easy to break the silence, but nobody in the family can get help if the violence is not stopped.

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