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For mothers

For mothers

For mothers

Do you feel safe at home? … Do your children?

Everyone has a right to feel safe and free of fear in their own home.

If your partner hurts you — or abuses you, or tries to control you — this is family violence.
It’s not your fault. There is no excuse for violence.

Family violence does affect your kids. Even if they don’t see or hear the abuse, they know it’s happening. 

I'd have to make sure the kids were quiet so he didn't get angry. It was a struggle to respond properly to my kids when I was always tense and worried about his reaction. 

Babies and young children pick up on this, even if they’re in another room.  Older children know what’s going on.

You are probably trying hard to protect them. You do your best to stop them from hearing arguments or seeing abuse. But kids are very sensitive.

Growing up in a ‘climate of fear’ is damaging to children. 

When the yelling starts, she turns the TV up loud and hides with her little sister under the bed. 

The warning signs

Does your partner, your ex, or a family member:

  Stop you seeing family or friends?

  Threaten to hurt you, your kids, family members … or a pet? 

  Make you feel scared to say no to them? 

  Smash things or lock you in the house?

  Force or trick you to have sex or do sexual things you don’t want to? 

  Constantly check where you are and what you’re doing?

  Call you names or deliberately make you feel bad?

  Try to damage your relationship with your kids? 

  Control all the spending in the household?

If you ticked ‘yes’ to any of these, then there are signs that you are not being treated right, or that you are being abused. If you don’t feel safe, respected and cared for, then something isn’t right.

Name calling or put-downs are abuse too. It can hurt as much or even more than physical violence.

All forms of family violence are not ok. And some – like physical violence, threats or stalking– are a crime. There are laws to protect women and children from family violence. 

Is this affecting my kids?

Children can’t feel safe or happy if their mum is being hurt. They may feel frightened or helpless.

Some kids try to protect their mum, or they might feel angry and blame her. Some children even think it’s their fault.

 They may:

  • Feel unwell with stomach cramps or headaches
  • Have trouble concentrating at school
  • Have difficulty with friendships
  • ’act out’ … or withdraw
  • Learn that violence can give them control over others

I told myself as long as he's only hurting me and not my children…until one day not only did he hurt me he hit my 2 month old

You are not to blame

Some partners try to damage the relationship between a mum and her kids. They may:

  • Tell your kids you are a ‘bad’ mother
  • Encourage them to ignore what you say
  • Stop you from attending to your child
  • Be jealous of your pregnancy or when you are breastfeeding your baby 

Common questions

1. He's good to the kids. Don't they need us to stay together no matter what?

A man is not being a good dad or rold model if he abuses you, the child's mother. Even if he is caring or affectionate towards the kids, it doesn't make up for the damage he is doing hurting you.

Family violence can have a worse effect on children's development than divorce or separation.

2.  Should I leave him?

The most important thing is your own safety, and the safety of your children. You'll probably ask yourself questions like:

  • How can I take them away from the father they love?
  • What if he threatens to get custody of the kids or to contact Child Protection?
  • Can I offer the kids a better life on my own?
  • How will we manage since he earns the money?
  • Will we be in more danger if we leave?

There are services that can help you to work through these issues so you can decide what is best for you and your children. You don't have to deal with this on your own. 

3.  Is it my fault?

No matter what you do, no one shold hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself. If someone is treating you badly, they're doing the wrong thing, not you. You are not to blame. Don't be ashamed to ask for help.

What you can do … for your kids

A warm and supportive relationship with you or another family member makes a positive difference for children. You can:

  • Give lots of cuddles
  • Tell them you love them, often!
  • Ask them how they
  • Reassure your kids that the abuse is not their fault
  • Ask them how they feel, listen and give them opportunities to talk about the violence
  • Let them know that other kids have similar experiences and that feeling upset is normal
  • Show them respect and help them show respect for others
  • Let them know it’s not their role to protect you
  • Show your kids that you are interested in them – play games with them, support their achievements, involve them in sport and community activities
  • Get help and support for your kids and for yourself

What you can do … for you

1.  Make a safety plan

Whether you decide to stay or leave the relationship:

  • plan where you can go and who you can call in an emergency
  • keep important items together in a safe place in case you need to leave suddenly —such as birth certificates, bank cards, Centrelink details, money, medication, clothes, keys
  • teach your kids what to do and who to call if they don’t feel safe

2.  Talk to someone

3.  Take ‘time out’

4.  Call a family violence service

  • They will support you — whether you decide to stay or separate from your partner. Their focus is to help you and your children be safe
  • Find out how the law can protect you

[now] I can come home from work without fear of what is awaiting me behind closed doors. I make my own decisions, I control my own life. It's not an easy road but it far out weighs the years before.

Where to get help

My kids are happy now, but if I had continued with the relationship it would be the opposite.