For children

Below are the answers to the most commonly asked questions.


My friend is being hurt at home – what should I do?
If your friend is being hurt then you should tell someone – even if they have asked you not to. Talk to someone you trust like a teacher, your parents or a doctor and don’t feel bad or that you’re doing the wrong thing. All children should feel safe in their home and with the people who are supposed to look after them. By telling someone what is happening you could help to stop your friend getting hurt.

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My mum is being abused. What can I do?
If you or your mum are being hurt and need help right away, you can call the police by dialling 999. You should give your name, address and telephone number and tell the police what is happening. Don’t hang up because the police will call back to make sure the call is genuine and this could give your dad, step-dad or mum’s boyfriend the chance to tell them everything is okay and the call was a mistake. It is better to leave the phone off the hook so they can hear what is going on.

The police will come to your house and talk to your mum, dad or any other adults. They may even talk to you. They should certainly make sure you are okay and have not been hurt. They may take away the person who was violent, shouted at or threatened your mum. Whatever happens you should remember that it is not your fault and your dad, step-dad or mum’s boyfriend has got himself into trouble.

If you are not in immediate danger, the best thing you can do is speak to an adult you trust about what is happening. Maybe someone like a teacher, or sports coach or perhaps a relative. You can also get in touch with an organisation like Childline (0800 1111) or the NSPCC (0808 800 5000) – calls are free and you don’t even have to give them your name.

There are lots of people who can help you and your mum – you don’t need to feel alone.

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My mum talks about leaving my dad. Where will we go?
If your mum decides it would be best for you to move away from your dad, there are lots of places you could go. Some people have friends or family who can offer them a place to stay, others go to a hotel for a short time while they find somewhere more permanent. Lots of children go with their mum to a refuge – a safe house full of other families who have left home because of domestic violence.

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Seeing your dad after you have left
If your dad has been violent to your mum and she decides to leave, taking you and any brother or sisters with her, you might have some questions about keeping in contact with him. Some children who have lived with violence and abuse have been so upset by the experience that they would rather not see their dad. Some children have been hurt by him too but haven’t told anyone about it because they are scared about what might happen if they speak up. If this is the case for you, tell people how you feel. Tell your mum, your teacher, the solicitor and anyone else who works for the courts, such as the Children and Family Court Advisory Support officer. All of these people have a duty to protect you from harm if you are in danger of being hurt.

If you want to see your dad, but are worried that he might hurt you or your mum again, people who work for the courts should do everything they can to make sure any contact between you and your dad is safe. That might mean seeing your dad in a Contact Centre with other people close by to make sure you are okay.

Once a decision has been made about contact, it can be changed if things get difficult or if someone is hurt. You and your mum have rights and it is up to the courts and other professionals to protect you.

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What causes domestic violence?
Lots of people think that drink or drugs cause domestic violence but they don’t. Plenty of men who drink or take drugs never lay a finger on their wife or girlfriend – alcohol and drugs are just an excuse. Some men who have a drink problem are abusive when they are sober.

Domestic violence is about power and control. Men who abuse women are abusing their power in order to control them.

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What is a refuge?
A refuge is a safe house where women and their children can go to get away when they are not safe at home.

In most refuges you, your mum and your brothers and sisters will have a bedroom of your own but you will share the kitchen, bathroom and living room with other families.

The women who work in the refuge are there to help you and your mum settle in and feel at home. There will probably be other kids your age in the refuge and women for your mum to make friends with and talk to.

The addresses of refuges are kept secret to make sure everyone living there stays safe.

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What is domestic violence?
If one person hurts another person in the family, this is domestic violence. Domestic violence can take many forms and can also involve emotional and verbal abuse. It is normally the man who abuses the woman and it can happen even after a couple have split up.

Domestic violence can be lots of different things and not everyone will experience them all:

· Physical violence – hitting, punching, kicking, slapping.
· Emotional abuse – calling names, insulting her, saying she’s useless or making her feel bad about herself, stopping her going out, telling her what she can and can’t wear, getting jealous.
· Sexual abuse – making her have sex when she doesn’t want to.
· Financial abuse – not letting her have her own money, or spending all her money.
· Using the children – making the children say or do things to hurt her. Hurting the children in front of her.

Your mum does not need to be hit to get help from our Helpline she can call Refuge for lots of different advice and support.

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Who does domestic violence happen to?
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, but it’s usually men who abuse women.

Any woman can be abused – it doesn’t matter how old she is, whether she is rich or poor, what culture, religion or ethnic background she is from, if she is disabled or has other kinds of difficulties or where she lives.

Your mum does not need to be hit to get help from our Helpline she can call Refuge for lots of different advice and support.

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Why does my mum put up with it?
It’s really hard for a woman to leave her husband or partner, even if he’s treating her badly. Maybe your mum still loves him and hopes that one day he will change. She might be scared about what will happen if she does leave or worried about how she will manage without any money and no house of her own. She may think that staying is the best thing for you and your brothers and sisters because you need to be around your dad.

Leaving is even harder if you don’t know where to go, who to contact for help and if you don’t speak much English. But there are solutions – encourage your mum to ring the helpline and talk to someone about what is happening.

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Will I be violent too when I’m older?
Lots of children worry that they will be violent like their dad or step-dad when they’re older. Living in a house where there is violence does not mean you will be violent too one day.

1. Learn to respect women.
2. There are other non-violent ways of handling feelings of stress and frustration.

Plenty of people grow up in violent homes but would never hurt anyone because they understand what it feels like to be treated that way.

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