Children cannot stop the abuse, although they often try distracting the abuser or directly interfering in the abusive episode. It is important to tell your children that the best and most important thing for them to do is to keep themselves safe.
Children who experience woman abuse can be profoundly affected. It is very traumatic for them to be faced with violence directed at them or someone they love. Personal safety and safety planning is extremely important and necessary for children whose families are experiencing violence. Children should learn ways to protect themselves. There are several strategies to help you develop a safety plan with your children:
- Have your children identify a safe room/place in the house, preferably with a lock on the door and a telephone. The first step of any plan is for your children to get out of the room where the abuse is occurring
- Stress the importance of being safe, and that it is not their responsibility to make sure that you are safe
- Teach your children how to call for help (to contact the police). It is important that your children know that they should not use a telephone that is in view of the abuser. This puts them at risk.
- Ensure that your children know their address and full name (rural children need to know their 911 number)
- Rehearse what they will say. In the case of young children it should be simple, yet specific, i.e. “someone is hurting mommy.”
- It is important for your children to leave the telephone off the hook after they are done talking or best stay on the line and keep talking to the dispatcher. The police will call the number back if they hang up
- Teach your children about Neighbourhood Block Parents and how to use them (if they are available in your community)
- Teach your children the safest route to the planned place of safety for them
- Pick a safe place to meet your children out of the home after the situation is safe for you and them (so you can easily find each other)