Ethan's Story


Kids living with domestic violence suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of living in a household dominated by tension and fear. This can severely affect their ability to initiate and accept affection.

Scared to ask for help

Ethan was removed from his parents due to severe domestic violence, exposure to alcohol and drug misuse and their untreated mental health issues. Due to the tumultuous nature of his home, he learnt not to ask for help when he was scared, hungry or needed to go to the bathroom. Instead, if he hurt himself or was upset he became very quiet and subdued and would play with his hands to soothe himself. He was unable to initiate affection and even more uncomfortable accepting it.

Flying under the radar

Ethan learnt to internalise his emotions and fear. He wasn’t aggressive, he didn’t yell or swear or throw tantrums and as such, he could easily fly under the radar. It was hard to tell that on the inside, this innocent eight year old was living in constant fear and couldn’t identify one person in his life that could keep him safe. The only indicators were his developmental delays in his speech and motor skills which were a direct result of his neglect and missed opportunities of learning.

How we helped

When Ethan came to Act for Kids at eight years old he was not regularly attending school. We made it a priority to increase his attendance, and work alongside his teachers to ensure he has the best opportunities to succeed. He regularly sees our speech pathologist and occupational therapist who provide him with a safe space to act out what he has seen, heard and felt. He is learning that he is allowed to want affection and that there are adults in his life that he can trust, to keep him safe.

We are supporting his foster carers to respond to his remaining insecurities and as such, he is building a secure attachment to them where he can finally feel safe. Now that Ethan’s communication skills are improving he’s loving getting more involved in school and learning new things. With ongoing treatment and support Ethan will be able to overcome his trauma and live his life to his full potential.

The Bigger Problem



…were abused or neglected



…every 13 minutes

Under 12 Months

Most likely

…to be abused or neglected

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2019-20.

Abuse and neglect

The majority (54%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (22%). One in five (14%) experience physical abuse and 9% experience sexual abuse.

Abuse and neglect can impact a child’s brain development, how they feel and think about themselves, how successful they are at school, even their physical development and skills. In the long term this can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, difficulty developing and maintaining good relationships, unemployment and all sorts of social disadvantage.


Early intervention makes the world of difference

With early and appropriate support, children can overcome their experiences and go on to have happy and productive lives. With continued support and positive reinforcement Ethan will be able to overcome his traumatic childhood experiences and achieve his full potential. Thank you for helping us give these kids the childhood they truly deserve.

How you can help

We can’t do this important work without your help. We rely heavily on donations to support our intensive therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and early support for families at risk. Your donation will help us keep our doors open and expand our services.

How you can help