Last Updated on January 6, 2023 by Cindy Bekesi
|In the United States, 1 in 15 children are exposed to domestic violence (DV) each year, and 90% of these children witness the violence that occurs in their homes. These are daunting statistics. Perhaps you know of and want to help a child living with domestic violence (DV). You know you can help this child have more hope than they have right now. You just aren’t sure where to start or what you should know first.|
How to help a child build resiliency to cope with domestic violence (DV)
You may not know it, but when you help a child living in a home with DV, you are helping them to build their resiliency. Resiliency is the ability to cope through adversity, which can be very difficult for children to achieve when facing DV. Without resiliency, children will struggle to have successful outcomes and lack the ability to cope with adversity as they grow older and even into adulthood. The negativity, fear and insecurities they faced as children will compound, leading to struggles with mental or physical health, as well as social and relational issues.
What does a child that is living in a home with domestic violence (DV) need to hear?
- A child needs to know they can talk to someone about what is happening at home. You can build trust by just listening, acknowledging, and not judging or trying to solve the issue right away.
- Stress to a child that they are not ALONE, that many other children also face DV in their homes. The negative feelings a child has are natural and there is always a chance for hope and happiness in their life.
- Explain to a child that the violence in their home is not their fault and not something they can stop. It is not happening because of anything they did. They cannot take responsibility for the actions of adults.
- Let a child know it is never too late to make good choices later on when they have control of their environment. A child does not have to repeat the cycle of violence and anger growing up. It can be up to them to treat people better than what they see in their home.
- Share stories you find of other children who have faced DV in the home and gone on to lead successful and happy lives- whether it is celebrities they may admire or anyone else. Start with the CDVA Story page for inspiring stories of many children who also went through living with DV in their homes.
- Convey to a child the survival instincts they have make them stronger than those that are not facing DV in the home. At a young age, they have been challenged more than they should be, but this ability to survive will pave a path to not just surviving in the future but thriving.
Other ways to help foster resiliency in a child facing domestic violence (DV)
Utilize additional resources online. Domesticshelters.org provides a list of 18 ways to help children who face DV- including finding something a child loves and connecting them with it, being a role model, encouraging friendships, not making promises you can’t keep and being consistent with checking in – as a child may feel the need to push back on your support.
Find other useful resources at cdv.org – watch together Family Secrets, a documentary aimed at children and teens, or purchase Invincible, a very relevant and easy to read book – and share excerpts with the child. The book has several inspiring stories of adults who grew up with domestic violence, who all went through the transformation of becoming stronger, more confident and self-aware after growing up with DV.
Be THE ONE to support a child living with domestic violence (DV)
Support within families plays a pivotal role in building resiliency, as do connections with caring others. “There is a great deal of research that shows the powerful impact coaches, teachers and other adults in the community, with whom children have a chance to build relationships, play a critical supportive role in building resilience,” writes Vicki Hazelwood, Co-ordinator at the Lethbridge Early Years Coalition.
Take CDVA’s online training program, Change a Life, that covers a robust amount of helpful material you can use to teach you how to become THE ONE, a caring adult who steps in and offers simple support and messages of hope that can foster a child’s resiliency and help change their life.