Domestic violence is a family affair. Even if a child does not directly witness violence between the adults in the household, there is still an impact on the children in the home. Children can manifest their fears and concerns in a variety of ways:
They may blame themselves, or feel their actions are directly responsible for the batterer’s behavior.
The primary victim of abuse may be so focused on trying to keep the family safe, they may not be able to properly parent the children, much less address the effects the violence has on the children. Long-term, children who are exposed to domestic violence are far more likely to continue the family cycle of violence by become an abuser or a victim as adults.
Victim Services believes that early intervention is key to ending the cycle of family violence. Our Children's Advocacy Program is designed to meet the needs of the youngest survivors by providing children a way to safely talk about their questions, experiences, and fears.
Programs are structured around specific age groups so that a child receives assistance that is age appropriate. Using discussion, multimedia, art activities and play, children are encouraged to examine and express the emotions they are feeling and to do so safely and without judgment. Recognizing that the needs of children in shelter are different than those who are not, separate sessions are available for children in either living situation. Individual and group sessions are available.
In addition to emotional support for children, supervised, child-centered activities are scheduled by appointment to permit shelter and non-residential clients to participate in counseling, support groups, parenting and life skill classes, and other appointments as they work toward healing and self-sufficiency.