Many incidents highlight children’s suffering from emotional and psychological trauma, which directly results from violence. Violence in the home embeds a sense of trepidation in a child. Sometimes parents do not understand what their child is going through; providing them with bread, paying their fee and buying them commodities are as important as providing them the peace and tranquillity at home. Home is a place where a child feels safe and secure from intrinsic or extrinsic fears. The deportment of your child reflects how you treat him/her. The negligence of parents towards their child can cause havoc on their child’s mental and physical health. The chaos in family as a result of any kind of verbal or nonverbal violence can trigger psychological trauma and is forever planted in the child's psyche.
Approximately 1 billion children ranging between 2 to 17 years have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence around the world. Any type of violence can have a drastic impact on a child’s wellbeing. Maltreatment, psychological stress, emotional stress, discrimination and negligence are some examples; the idiosyncratic demeanour of a child highlights through his/her interaction with the society, friends, classmates and family members.
Some children end up having serious issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm or eating disorders. Research shows witnessing abuse carries great risk to children's mental health and learning. Violence at home, whether it is directed at a parent, a brother or sister, you or another family member you care about is just as harmful as being directly abused. Violence at home can make a child feel sad, helpless and confused and leaves emotional scars that stay forever. Children suffering from this often think they have done something to cause the violence, they feel frightened and ashamed. They have difficulty adjusting in school and lose interest in their schoolwork and friends. They have trouble concentrating and are always angry. They have trouble talking and often end up taking drugs to cope with the pain.
It is important to remember if you or someone in your family is being abused that the person who is being violent may try to make you feel guilty. Keeping violence at home a secret is unsafe. It is okay to tell someone; help is available only if you chose to ask for it! Find someone who you feel comfortable talking to and trust (perhaps an older family member, a neighbour, a teacher or a friend’s parent). Take your time and try to explain how you or someone in your family is being abused. It will be very difficult but you will need to push through.
If you are a parent, understand that the relationship you have with your child is central to their emotional development. When they feel supported and heard, it helps them develop the ability to cope with the stresses of life and help them overcome negative feelings. This ability to withstand, cope and recover is called resilience. Psychologist Kathleen Kendall says that children are like blank slates, they learn what they see; only you can help heal their invisible wounds. Remember that sometimes, a child needs more help than you can give. You should find a trained professional, a psychologist, social worker, or a school counselor that can help the child talk about his feelings. The professional can also guide you to find the actions or words to help very young children who are not able to talk about their experiences. Seeing a mental health expert is a good idea when a child exhibits irrational behaviour. Getting professional help will keep the child’s problems and worries from getting worse, however, the symptoms may not disappear immediately. If you believe a child needs professional help, talk to a trusted adult, such as the child’s pediatrician, teacher, school counselor or family member about finding an appropriate mental health professional.
As an adult, remember to listen to the child without judging, respond calmly without becoming anxious or angry. For instance, you might say, “I’m so sorry you had to experience that. I had no idea you were so sad about it. It must have been very hard for you.” Help them identify feelings. For instance, you might say, “What happened at home today? How did it make you feel?” If you do not know the answer to a tough question, admit it. Then help children find the correct words and talk about it. Write down children’s specific worries and talk about each one, encouraging them to open up when they are ready. With help, children exposed to early trauma including domestic violence can overcome their experiences without developing stress-related disorders. Always remember detecting, treating and preventing exposure to violence are the keys in reducing it. HH
You can report cases by calling 1099 or by downloading the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) helpline app Helpline.
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