These pages are for any child or young person who is subject to or witness to domestic abuse. There are also resources for anyone who teaches or supports children who are experiencing domestic abuse.p>
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Domestic abuse and domestic violence are when someone hurts or bullies someone else in their family. If this is happening at home, you will want it to stop, but you probably don’t know what you can do.
You could try talking to a teacher, a member of your family (such as an auntie or uncle), a neighbour, someone at your Church, a friend or their parent. This way, if there’s an emergency you can phone them and they’ll know about what’s going on in your home and will know what to do. Many countries also have helplines for children or else you can call the child protection services. Remember, domestic violence is not your fault. You won’t get into trouble for telling someone.
It can be very difficult to tell someone what is going on. It can be really hard to deal with the feelings that you have when someone at home is hurting someone you love. You can’t control your feelings but even if you can’t talk about them, there are things you can do to help you manage them. Here are some ideas:
Some young people struggle to cope with their feelings. They end up doing things that make the situation worse and cause them serious harm such as:
If any of these things apply to you, then you need help – begin by talking to someone you can trust.
Women’s Aid has created a great website with lots of helpful information for children.
Useful sites for teenagers:
Whether you are a teacher, a youth leader, a Church leader or working in an agency that works with young people, you have a very valuable role in helping them to understand how domestic violence impacts them and what they can do about it. Violence is a topic that often brings up strong feelings – anger, hurt, sadness, fear, shame. These are normal and natural responses to being hurt or to seeing someone else being hurt. UNICEF has an excellent resource that you can use to help you help young people deal with the problem.
Before you get started, there are some important principles you should be aware of:
(Adapted from UNICEF)
UNESCO and UN Women have published Global Guidance on Addressing School-related Gender-based Violence. There are also numerous websites with useful information – here are some:
None in Three is a two-year (2016-18) project funded by the European Union to help prevent domestic violence in the Caribbean.
It is sad but true that one in three women and girls will experience abuse. The figures are not as high for boys and men, but they too are often victims of violence. This is a problem worldwide and not just in the Caribbean. Our belief is that we should all be working together to change this statistic to None in Three.
One of the things the None in Three project is doing is making a computer game about domestic violence. This will be used in schools and colleges to help teach children understand the steps that can be taken when there is violence in the home and that violence is neither normal nor acceptable.
Many young people have helped us with the design of the game – it is based on a young boy called Jesse (the game can also be played as a girl). Jesse lives on a Caribbean island with his dog Alvin, his mum, Diana and his mother’s boyfriend, Rondell. You can find out more about Jesse, Diana and Rondell below.
Most games that you will have heard about have been created by large companies, with millions of dollars to spend and large teams of scientists and game developers. Our game development team is very small and our game will not be as fancy as others.
However, we have put a lot of thought into making it as real as possible - groups of young people in Grenada and Barbados have helped us with this. Also, because the game will be played in schools which might not have the latest technology, we have to keep the graphics and technical requirements quite simple – this is important because it means that as many children as possible will be able to access the game.
You can find out more about what is involved in creating a computer game by watching our YouTube videos:
Find out about the game we are developing to help children respond to domestic violence.
I’m Jesse. I live on a Caribbean island that I call home and the rest of the world call paradise. This is because we are surrounded by blue seas and have sunshine the year round. A lot of tourists come to my country, in fact everyone knows that without them, the country would probably be poor. But we’re not.
I read stories about kids growing up with war and famine or terrible disasters or being unable to go to school and my life is nothing like that. All children here go to school and as far as I know we’ve never had a famine or a war for that matter. We do have hurricanes though, which can sometimes cause a lot of damage, although I wasn’t alive when the last bad one hit.
I live with my dog Alvin, my mum Diana and Uncle Rondell, her boyfriend.
My mum used to work in a hotel but lost her job when the hotel closed down. There aren’t as many tourists as before and she hasn’t been able to get another job. That’s why we decided to move in with Uncle Rondell and we’ve been here a few months now. I liked it here at first because I’ve got my own room and Uncle plays computer games with me.
Soon there’ll be four of us because my mum is having a baby. Where we lived before was too small for a baby so it was a good idea to move in with Uncle, although sometimes I’m not so sure. I’ve wanted a baby brother or sister for ages - I can’t wait for it to start walking and talking!
I’m hoping baby will like football, which is my favourite, although at school we mostly play cricket. I’m quite good at school, mostly I’ve been in the top set in my class but I'm getting into quite a bit of trouble lately. Mum doesn’t know though. She would go crazy because she’s always telling me that I mustn’t end up like her – she says she never had the education to get her a decent job. She’s had a bit of stress with the baby so I don’t really want to upset her.
I’d tell Aunty Theresa if I could. She’s my mum’s sister and used to babysit me in the night while mum was at work. I could tell her anything. I remember when granny died, Aunty Theresa let me sleep with her because I was so sad – we both cried a lot and then we got up and had ice-cream because we were both feeling so bad. The ice-cream helped but the next day I was crying all over again. Granny was my favourite person (I even loved her as much as my dog Alvin) and always made sure I was OK.
Ever since we moved we don’t see Aunty so much. The only other people in my family are granddad who we hardly ever see at all and some cousins from my mum’s half-brother who live in the US. Uncle Rondell has family but I don’t really know them.
I’ve had Alvin since he was a puppy – he is light brown and has short legs. I don’t know how else to describe him. Alvin is funny but sometimes is naughty and gets me into trouble. If he barks too much Uncle Rondell gets mad, and if he has an accident I have to be very quick to clean it up before anyone sees. Alvin knows all my secrets – I tell him everything and when I need to hide, he hides with me. If I am very sad, he will nibble my toes until I start playing with him.
I have a problem that I need to tell you about. I’ve never told anyone because I was too scared of what might happen, but I want you to know. I saw a programme on TV about domestic violence and that was what was happening in my house. There is violence in my family. Uncle Rondell hits my mum and it’s getting worse.
Here’s the thing about Uncle Rondell – he can be really great. He helps me with my homework and watches my programmes with me but I never know when he’s going to turn and get mad. I keep watching him to see if I can pick up when he’s getting angry but there’s no way of knowing.
I am very frightened when he gets angry and usually go to my room or hide in the bathroom with Alvin. No matter where I hide I can still hear the banging and my mum screaming and I think about terrible things happening to her. Sometimes I get so scared, I throw up. One day I’ll be big enough to stand up to him and save my mum but all I can do is hide and cry. Afterwards he’s always sorry and mum who is usually curled up and crying says its OK things will be better now. But they never are, in fact they’re worse.
Alvin knows everything that goes on but no-one else does. The last time Uncle Rondell hit my mum she had to go to hospital and now I think other people have worked out what is going on. I’m not sure what is going to happen. If you play the computer game, you will find out what happened and what you could do if you were in a situation like this.
I didn’t do that well at school but have worked hard to make it in life and am proud to say that I am now a fully qualified Telephone Engineer.
My family was poor and when I was growing up I mainly remember a lot of hardship and arguments. Every Friday night when my dad got his wages, my mum would meet him at the factory gates to get the housekeeping otherwise he would spend it all on drink. If she was late that was it – by the time he got home half of it would be gone and there would be an almighty row. It always ended in violence, in fact I remember my dad beating my mum all the time and telling my brothers and me never to let a woman get the better of you.
I hated my dad for this and said I would never be like him but as I got older, I used to blame my mum – I used to think “why can’t you just be quiet, why do you have say something to rile him when you know he’s been drinking”.
Our family wasn’t much different to other families and so in the end you just begin to accept that this is how married couples are. I couldn’t wait to get out of all that though and so I worked real hard. Now I own my own house and I have a car. I’m not married but I have a girlfriend, Diana; at first we got on really well and it was great having her in my life. She has a son Jesse, he’s a great kid. I wasn’t really looking to have a family but it seems as if I have one now as they have moved in with me and Diana is expecting a baby, which she says is mine.
Sometimes things get too much and I’m not sure that I want this family life – I don’t want it to be like my upbringing. When I’m not working I like playing pool with my friend Hayden and just like my dad, I drink a lot.
Diana and I argue a lot these days and sometimes she pushes me to hit her. She’s at home all day so why can’t she get things right in the house - I get really mad when things aren’t as I expect them to be; sometimes I wonder if I am turning into my father.
When the baby comes things might be even worse. I didn’t plan to have a child and feel as if she has trapped me in this situation. On the other hand, it might be really great being a father – Jesse has shown me how satisfying it can be spending time with children. Sometimes he makes me feel like I am really his dad, not just any dad, but a good dad – one I would have wanted had I been able to choose. Anyway, this might all come to an end as things have recently taken a turn for the worse – if you play the computer game you will find out what has happened.
The fact that Rondell grew up in a home with violence doesn’t mean that he would necessarily become abusive himself but there are some worrying signs:
There are also some positive signs in that Rondell did not want to repeat his father’s violence and also that he has personal strengths to draw on (his work achievements, his relationship with Hayden and his bond with Jesse)
I am 26 years old and mother to Jesse. I had Jesse when I was 17 years and though things have been difficult as a single mum, that child has been a blessing in my life. He’s a good child and if my second baby turns out like him, I will be very happy.
Jesse’s father abandoned me when he found out I was pregnant but the two of us made out OK, especially as my sister and mum helped me a lot. I don’t know if Jesse misses not having a father but he does have Rondell and he’s like a dad to him.
Until recently I was working in a hotel but the downturn in the tourist industry meant that I lost my job and I haven’t been able to get another one. No-one wants to hire a pregnant woman.
Thankfully, my boyfriend Rondell is looking after us and we have now moved into his house. I’ve been going with Rondell for a couple of years – he’s a hard-working man and apart from the drinking and the fact that he is very possessive, we get on just fine. I think it suits him that I’m not working so that I can be home all the time – he was always jealous of the fact that in my job, I worked alongside other men. We had a terrible argument once when he said that I must have been having an affair because the baby wasn’t his. This is crazy as he is the only boyfriend I have had for years.
Theresa, my sister has told me that his jealousy is a danger sign for domestic violence – I wouldn’t describe Rondell as violent although he does hit me and when he is drunk he frightens me and has hurt me several times (I wouldn’t tell Theresa though).
I thought the baby might make things better between us … now I’m not so sure, as he seems to lose his temper for the slightest thing. If the hitting doesn’t stop I wonder what will happen to us all as I have nowhere else to go. I don’t like Jesse to see us fighting, it makes me really sad when he comes to me afterwards and tries to wipe away my tears. Anyway, I’m in hospital at the moment after a particularly violent fight and the doctors are very worried.
A child cannot be expected to know this, but there are some signs that put together suggest that domestic violence is a serious problem in Diana’s relationship with Rondell:
What effects do you think this situation has in Jesse and how do you think it might affect the unborn baby?