Every parent will tell you that they hope that their child is never a victim of domestic violence or a perpetrator of domestic violence. In fact, I, like most parents, want my children to have the tools to take a stand against domestic violence—whether it’s part of their life, or someone else’s.
Here are five ways your kids can take a stand and how you can help them.
1. Knowledge is power.
Your children can start learning about the concepts related to domestic violence at a young age. When they get angry at their sibling and hit, you can say, “When we are upset with someone we use our words, we never hit.” As your children grow older you can bring the topic into the dating realm by pointing out dangerous behavior in the news or among their friends, “You know, acting out in aggressive ways because of jealousy is not a sign that someone cares, it’s a sign that someone is not handling their emotions well and making poor choices.”
2. Find support.
If your children have witnessed domestic violence in your home or at the home of a family member, it may be helpful to get support for yourself and your children. Florida’s certified domestic violence centers are available 24/7 to support survivors and their children. To reach a center in your local area or to talk to an advocate over the phone call the Florida Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119.
3. Value all people.
When children broaden their understanding of other people they’re better equipped to recognize domestic violence and stand against it. So tell both your sons and daughters that control and dominance are not signs of masculinity. Teach them that all people have equal value.
4. Open communication.
You can help your children stand up to domestic violence by reassuring them that they can always turn to you if they witness domestic violence or are a victim. If they do come to you, try your best to stay calm so they won’t feel ashamed or as if they are at fault in any way for the abuse. Ask them how they feel and what they would like for you to do to support their safety.
5. Help others.
Find out about domestic violence centers in your area. Volunteer to donate items they might need. Let your children pack up the items. Encourage your children to share what they have with those affected by domestic violence—items like clothes, toys, and books. Age-appropriately, help your children understand that kids their own age are affected by domestic violence.
Domestic violence happens and our children need to be aware of it, for their own protection and to develop their own sense of service in standing up for others. If you or someone you know needs help accessing safety resources, please contact the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119.
Sponsored by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families.
This project was supported by Contract No. LJ990 awarded by the state administering office for the STOP Formula Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.