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Calm words for children in domestic violence

Wise and calming words with children about domestic and family violence can help to prevent aggressive behaviour being passed on to a new generation.

Centacare’s expert practitioners said it was important to address the topic with children because they “learn by watching”.

“They often side with the perpetrator because he is stronger. He has the power,” Centacare’s Brigitte McLennan said.

“They can learn controlling behaviour which (wrongly) shows a new generation that they need to be in control to get what they want.

“And girls may learn what they think is the role of the female from watching that behaviour.”

The Archdiocese of Brisbane has launched an educational campaign: Rewrite the Story: Let’s End Domestic and Family Violence.

As part of the campaign, the Archdiocese produced a television show with its Centacare experts providing insights into domestic and family violence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvvbGPc6q0U

Ms McLennan said it was not always best to speak with children directly about the violence but to talk about unacceptable behaviours.

“Often we don’t see the child because it’s not always the right approach. We give the parent the language to speak with the child because they’re the closest connection,” Ms McLennan said.

“If we speak with children we talk about recognising emotions – the child learns the difference between anger and disappointment and maybe being frightened or being sad. What does it feel like and what makes me feel better? We try to give the child some tools.”

Centacare’s Steve Dowker said it was important to remain calm when speaking with children about domestic and family violence.

“It’s important that we remain calm. Some of the things you can hear are quite shocking and the last thing we want to do is react adversely because that can send mixed signals to the child,” Mr Dowker said.

“If we come across children being exposed to domestic violence, we really need to believe the child. If we don’t believe the child, the overwhelming evidence is that they’re not going to come forward and seek that emotional support again.

“If you have any concerns about the immediate safety of a child, always contact the Department of Child Safety. They provide support when needed.”

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