Ethan’s Story

" At eight years old, Ethan's family had been the subject of over 30 domestic violence reports. "

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.

Scared of affection

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.

" Kids subjected to abuse often feel fearful or anxious about doing something wrong. They may become withdrawn, trying to shield themselves away from the possibility of doing something wrong and incurring further abuse. "

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.

happy children in nature outdoor

" He is learning that it is okay to ask for help and that he can trust in adults to be there for him and 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



Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2014-15

Abuse and neglect

" Many children experience multiple forms of abuse and neglect. "

The majority (43%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (26%). One in five (18%) experience physical abuse and 13% 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 a 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.

Kid with color on his fingers and face looking

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.

Donate Now

Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Every donation, big or small, combines to make a real difference.


Donate Monthly

Your generosity means we can continue providing our integrated therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and support services for families.

Becoming a Kids’ Crusader and donating monthly is the best way to help us help kids and families – it means we can direct funds where they’re needed most and make the biggest impact over time.

Workplace giving

As an employee, workplace giving enables you to make a regular donation to Act for Kids through your payroll, directly from your pre-tax pay. This means that you receive an immediate tax saving as it reduces your taxable income.

Donate in your will

By leaving a bequest to Act for Kids, you can make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect. By including Act for Kids in your will, you offer a gift of hope to future generations and you will help us give abused and neglected children the chance to lead safe, happy and fulfilling lives.

Read next

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Five-year-old Max is a victim of significant child abuse. He had suffered severe verbal, physical and emotional abuse and neglect at the hands of his parents who were supposed to love and protect him.

Lacey-Jane’s Story

Neglected and scared, four-and-a-half year old Lacey-Jane began running away from prep school.

Thomas’ Story

At three years old Thomas could barely walk or speak, and his body was covered in scratches.



If you have any questions or would like to access our free counselling and support, please call us directly to discuss or make an appointment.

Completed referral forms can be accessed from the services section on our website and email to or call 1300 228 000

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    Referral Services

    If you have any questions or would like to access our free counselling and support, please call us directly to discuss or make an appointment.

    Completed referral forms can be accessed from the services section on our website and email to or call 07 3850 3200

    • Drop files here or
      Max. file size: 300 MB.