How to talk to children about domestic violence


For Parents

These ideas are to help you support your children. Children who live with domestic
violence feel:

Because they can’t stop the violence
Because it doesn’t make sense
Because it shouldn’t be happening
Because they think they’ve done something wrong
Because it’s a loss
Because they may be hurt, they may lose someone they
love, others may find out
Because they think it’s happening only to them



What children need to hear about domestic violence;

It’s not okay, It’s not your fault
It must be scary for you
I will listen to you
You can tell me how you feel; it is important
I’m sorry you had to see/hear it
You do not deserve to have this in your family
I will help you to stay safe
There is nothing you could have done to prevent/change it
We can talk about what to do to keep you safe if it happens again. (For example, staying in your room, going to neighbors, etc.)
You are an individual and can choose not to fight or hurt people


How to talk about your ex-partner:

Speak about your “ex” in a general way
Try to avoid “name calling”
Challenge behavior not the person
Your child may still love the abusive parent and may be confused by feeling this way. This could be hard for you too!  But it will really help your child if she/he is able to express these feelings


Ideas for helping children what they’ve witnessed DV:

Talk about it with them then they are ready
Listen to them
Talk about their feelings
Show understanding
Let them know it’s not their fault
Let them talk, if they want to
Let them know you will try to keep them safe/act in a way that is safe
Let them know the violence is not okay
Acknowledge it’s hard/scary for them
Accept that they may not be willing or able to talk about it right away
Always act in a way that is non-threatening and non-violent with your kids
Take them to counseling if they need it
Let them be children and try to share your own worries with another adult
Set limits respectfully if your child behaves in a violent or abusive way


 How Denial affects Children;

Child learns that the violence is normal
Child is afraid to talk about the violence
Child is confused, doesn’t understand
Blames her/himself
Learns to deny and not to talk about their own feelings
Makes them feel like they are crazy
Makes them feel lonely, isolated from their friends
Learns that it’s not okay to ask about the violence or
discuss it
Gives the children unrealistic beliefs about the causes of


It’s a lot scarier for children when no one ever talks to them about the violence
Examples of Ways of Overcoming Obstacles;
Be patient. Don’t push it. Try another time. They usually hear you anyway
Acknowledge that it may be uncomfortable for you to talk about the violence.Try to get more comfortable by talking to someone you trust
Acknowledge that it may be scary for you to remember the violence. It’s scary for your kids too. Once you start talking, it may feel less scary
Acknowledge that saying that you don’t have time is probably because it’s difficult, or you don’t feel capable of talking to your child about it
Acknowledge that it may be uncomfortable for you to talk about the violence



Domestic Violence and Your Children

by The Peoples Law Library of Maryland


Talking to older kids about dating and domestic violence

by  the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence


Creating a Safety Plan with Children

by the National Domestic Violence Hotline


little girl in makeupDon’t fool yourself. She is always watching.