The legacy of living in an extremely violent environment for years can mean children remain in a constant state of anxiety, alertness and fear — even when they are finally safe.
Haunted day and night
Josh is the youngest of three children. His mother was brutalised by his father for years, and she barely escaped with her life. Although they broke free of the situation, Josh and his family were not free of the trauma and they were all haunted by disturbing memories day and night.
Lasting effect of trauma
Mum would cry whenever the abuse was mentioned and was unable to provide her kids with the comfort and assurance they needed. The children, particularly Josh, retreated into themselves and suffered in silence.
“Exposure to domestic violence can be like living in a war zone. You never know where the next assault is going to come from, and are constantly on the lookout for warning signs. A traumatised parent can find it difficult to support their child emotionally when they are struggling to cope themselves.”
How we helped
When Josh came to Act for Kids he, along with his mum, brother and sister, showed severe symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They were constantly on edge due to the extreme domestic violence they had experienced.
Through intensive family therapy sessions with Act for Kids therapists, Josh and his family re-discovered their family strengths, abilities, interests and values which helped to restore their self-esteem, confidence, resilience, hope and pride. Mum learned how to become attuned and attend to her childrens psychological needs, increasing their capacity to turn to her for help.
Rebuilding a family’s life
While understanding the long term impact of trauma, the family was encouraged not to be defined by the abuse. We helped them instigate new activities that had previously not been possible – creating an arts and craft corner in their home, hosting birthday parties and sleep overs, having dinner together at the dining table and going on a camping trip.
The Bigger Problem
kids were confirmed to have been abused or neglected
every 13 minutes
Under 12 Months
were 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
After just three months the family is making great progress. We provided brief but intensive exposure therapy for mum and now, rather than avoid talking about the abuse Mum can recall the violence without becoming emotionally flooded. This means she has a much greater capacity to help her children manage their own trauma and they have now begun family therapy.
While abuse and trauma too often takes place within the context of family relationships, Act for Kids believes with the right support and assistance family relationships can be a source of true healing and repair and prevent children such as Josh from feeling alone with his nightmares any longer.
Thank you for supporting our vision for all kids to have a safe and happy childhood and a brighter future.
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.
Read More Stories
Summa is an 8-year old girl who suffered the effects of trauma whilst she was in the womb….
Samantha was exposed to a hostile home life and extreme abuse and neglect at the early stages of life….