CHILDREN are among the victims of domestic and family violence but it’s not always best to speak with them directly about it, say experts who help to combat the scourge in south-east Queensland.
Instead, wise and calming words with children 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 relaunched its educational campaign – Rewrite the Story: Let’s End Domestic and Family Violence. The campaign began in 2016 and has continued in this Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.
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,” she said. “We give the parent the language to speak with the child because they’re the closest connection.
“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.
“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.”
If you need assistance, call 000 immediately if it’s a life-threatening matter. DV Connect Womensline and DV Connect Mensline: 1800 600 636. Centacare Brisbane: 1300 236 822