What’s on this page?
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Talk to someone
Take ‘time out’
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
Where to get help
Support services in Victoria – statewide and regional (link to ‘where to get help – mothers’ page when live)