What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse can be:
- Physical – hurting someone by doing things like hitting, pushing or kicking
- Emotional – sayings things to frighten someone or make them feel bad such as telling them they are stupid, ugly or worthless
- Controlling behaviour – stopping someone from acting freely such as keeping them from seeing their friends and family, not letting them have a job or not letting them spend money. Also forcing someone to do things that they don't feel comfortable doing.
Are you worried about whether domestic abuse is happening in your family? Have a think about the statements below and answer honestly.
Do Your Family
Make you feel scared when you’re at home?
Hurt you or each other?
Treat you and each other with no respect?
Never show they can compromise?
Not make you feel cared for and important?
Emotionally hurt you or anyone else in your family (by calling you names, threatening you, making you feel bad)?
Struggle to resolve arguments and conflict by talking honestly?
If you have answered 'yes' to some of these questions, you could be in an abusive family and may want to speak to someone about your worries.
What can I do?
If you need help straight away, always call the Police on 999
You’ll need to give your name, address and telephone number and tell the police what is happening.
The police will probably come to your house and talk to your mum, dad or any other adults. They may even talk to you. They should make sure you are okay and have not been hurt. They may take away the person who was violent, shouting or threatening to hurt someone. Whatever happens, you should remember that it is not your fault.
Get in touch with Harbour – If you do not feel you are in immediate danger, we have special staff at Harbour that you can talk to about what’s been happening to you or someone you’re worried about. They will listen to you and understand how you might be feeling. They can come and talk to you at school or somewhere else that’s safe for you. You can get in touch by calling 03000 20 25 25.
Tell someone what's happening - talking to someone like a teacher or another adult you trust can be a good idea. They will want to make sure that you and your family are safe so they might want to talk to your mum too. If they are worried that you might get hurt they may have to tell someone else. They should always tell you what they are doing and who they are planning to talk to.
You might want to visit the Hideout - a great website for children and young people with advice, real life stories and questions to answer if you're unsure whether it's happening to you - www.thehideout.org.uk
Domestic abuse can also happen between teenagers who are in relationships. This website has lots of advice and information for young people who are worried about this: thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk
- Make sure you know how to dial 999 and call for help
- Tell someone you trust what’s happening - a teacher or another adult
- Don’t try and stop a fight even if you feel you need to protect the person being hurt. This can be very dangerous and you may be hurt yourself
- If you’re worried about a friend and think they might find the information on this website or other websites useful, don’t email a link to them unless you know it’s safe to do so.
- What’s happening is not your fault
- There are lots of people who can help you
- You don’t have to deal with this by yourself
- You can’t protect anyone in your family on your own and it’s not your responsibility to
- Hitting or hurting someone is against the law. No-one has the right to do it
How can we help you?
Our approach is to give children and young people an opportunity to have someone listen to their experiences and help them to deal with their feelings about this. Each child or young person’s support is different as we tailor the content to meet your needs and our approach depends upon your interests. We use play, art, drama, sport and discussion during our sessions.
We can cover things like feelings, safety, healthy relationships, worries, bullying and dealing with anger. We sometimes work individually, sometimes in groups with children or young people of a similar age.
Here are some voices of children we have supported recently telling us about their experiences
‘One thing I would change about my life is for all my family to be together and not argue all the time. I get jealous of other people who live with their Mum and Dad and I don’t’ get to do that. I like having contact with my Dad, but it makes me scared when he gets angry. I don’t know why he gets angry, but I don’t like it when he does.’
Girl, Aged 12
‘Sometimes my mum doesn’t listen to me. I try to talk to her about the way I feel, but she has so much going on, she doesn’t seem to have time for me. Sometimes I feel like I have too many responsibilities, like looking after my younger brothers and sisters, and I would really like some time for myself.’
Girl, Aged 14
‘My Dad doesn’t live with us anymore. Him and my Mum don’t like each other anymore, and so Dad went away and took our Dog. I miss them both a lot. I like seeing my Dad sometimes because we have fun together.’
Boy, Aged 5
‘I am excited for my 12th birthday, because I'm having a sleepover and I can’t wait to see what happens. I have never had a sleepover before.’
Girl, Aged 11
‘My dad doesn't let my mam out. This causes an argument.’
Boy Aged 9
‘When we went to Beamish as a family, I was over the moon because I like doing things as a family.’
Boy Aged 9
‘I was scared when my mam's boyfriend chased me around the garden because I pulled the plug out for the lawnmower when he was cutting the grass. I hid under the trampoline and he tried to get at me. I only did it because he pushed my mam on the couch and she was upset.’
Boy Aged 6
‘I feel sad because my dad has gone to prison for hitting my mum. I hope he doesn't forget about me and my brother. I think he is in the right place and he should be punished for what he has done, but I miss him.’
Girl Aged 10
‘I like coming and seeing my Harbour worker, because it gives me a chance to talk about my feelings and discuss any worries I have. I still have things I need to sort out, but I feel lots better than I did.’
Girl Aged 10
‘I can remember my dad slamming the kitchen door shut and shouting at my mam. I sneaked into the front room and looked through the key hole into the kitchen. I saw my dad throw a bowl at my mums head, the bowl was full of ice cream, because she was making this for me and my little brother. my mam looked sad, I ran upstairs before dad caught me.’
Boy Aged 8