- Powerless because they can’t stop the violence
- Confused because it doesn’t make sense
- Angry because it shouldn’t be happening
- Guilty because they think they’ve done something wrong
- Afraid because they may be hurt, they may lose someone they love, others may find out
- Alone because they think it’s happening only to them
To help protect these children, it is important for them to find ways to stay safe and get help if violence is happening at home. To do this, teach them not to try to get into the middle of a fight, tell them who to call for help, and how to get to safety. Schools should also be contacted to give any court papers and make sure the school knows who can contact the children.
For some children, things can be scarier when adults don’t talk to them about what is happening. Help them by acknowledging that the violence happened, that you know it was hard for them, and that it is not okay. Listen to them, let them talk about their feelings, and let them know you love them and that the violence is not their fault. Know that not all children will be willing or able to talk immediately. Make sure to act in ways that are non-threatening and non-violent, and take them to counseling if they need it.
As children turn into teenagers, many begin dating. Not all teenage relationships are healthy, and some may experience dating violence. Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power in the relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation, and humiliation to control the other person. Forms of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological.
And while it may be hard to believe, dating violence is happening. Nearly 1 in 5 high school students (including males and those in same-sex couples) will experience physical violence from someone they’re dating. Even more teens will experience verbal or emotional abuse during the relationship. Between 10 and 25 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 24 will be the victims of rape or attempted rape.