Step 1: Learn
There are many children who overcome the negative effects of experiencing domestic violence. As caring adults, we can use our words and actions to help children learn positive coping skills and inspire hope in their lives.
Here are some examples of ways you can inspire hope in the lives of children experiencing domestic violence:
- Remember children and teens have different strengths that foster their ability to succeed.
Experiencing negative events may bring out an inner strength and lead to positive growth for some children. Helping children and teens think and reflect on their experiences can help reshape their understanding of it and change the way they see themselves and others. You might say, “I understand and believe you. I am here to listen if you want to talk. I am sorry you’re going through this but you’re not alone. Many other children are going through the same thing. Remember it’s not your fault. Also, it’s not your job to stop the violence. You can’t control what is happening in your home, but you will be able to control what you do when you get older. You can choose a different path.”
- Focus on the positive by highlighting all the wonderful qualities of a child or teen.
For example, their academic or athletic achievements, their sense of humor, or their kind and caring personality. This may help boost their self-esteem. It also lets the children know that they do have qualities others see and appreciate. You might say, “You know, you are so smart and you’re great at math! I bet one day you will be a great engineer or architect. Keep up the great work!” or “I see your leadership qualities and you also have a gift for writing. You could become a great journalist someday. I encourage you to pursue these wonderful gifts.”
- Share the stories of President Bill Clinton, Halle Berry, and Christina Aguilera.
These stories help children and teens see that experiencing domestic violence does not have to define who they are. These stories can show children and teens that they can choose a different way of life. You might say, “Some very successful people, like former President Bill Clinton, Halle Berry, and Christina Aguilera went through what you’re going through when they were children. When they grew up, they chose to not use violence and anger but to be kind to others and went on to live wonderful, very successful lives.” Go to the Children of Domestic Violence website (cdv.org) to view President Clinton’s story and stories of other people who have experienced domestic violence as children and have risen above it to have successful and satisfying lives.
- Specific words of hope and encouragement.
“It isn’t your fault”
“You have had to overcome obstacles that other children never had to”
“A child is never responsible for the actions of an adult”
“I hear you”
“It’s not your job to stop it”
“I believe you”
“You’re not alone”