As a kid, I witnessed a fair bit of domestic violence and even copped a bit of it myself. Black eyes and bruises were a staple in my house, the weird thing was, it seemed perfectly ‘normal’ at the time.
It wasn’t until I got older that I realised it wasn’t something that was going on in everyone else’s household and that it wasn’t ‘normal’ for dads to hit mums when they were angry and it wasn’t ‘normal’ for mums and dads to throw furniture at each other when they were drunk and that it wasn’t ‘normal’ for the police to turn up most weekends to ‘calm things down’. Apparently it’s not ‘normal’ to catch a ‘flying’ mirror in the head in the middle of an argument between mums and dads and end up with stitches at the age of six either.
Despite all of that, I didn’t talk to anyone about any of it and I certainly didn’t ask for help. Why would I when I considered it ‘normal’?! Plus it all started when I was really young.
What’s my point?
Well, it makes me wonder, that if that’s how most kids that are experiencing domestic violence perceive it, my guess is that it makes it really bloody hard for anyone to step in and help. Especially teachers.
So if kids aren't speaking up about it, for all the obvious reasons like they:
Think it’s normal
And it’s not until they get older and find the unresolved issues of the domestic violence playing out in their relationships that they finally address it, what can be done in realtime to avoid the long term damage DV creates and who is responsible for stepping in?
It's both depressing and great to see that Domestic Violence is being taught/talked about in schools now. Depressing because it's obviously so rife that we even have to, yet great because hopefully, by talking about it earlier and raising awareness sooner in a child's psyche we can go some way to curbing it in the future.
Having it come up in conversation and talked about in a way that (without the child even realising) makes them feel safe to ask questions or just have them think differently about the subject is a start.
Bringing up examples of ‘other kids’ experiencing DV who have sought help and the positive benefits they got from doing so could be another way.
Asking leading, seemingly ‘unrelated’ questions that open the door for discussion on the subject can help.
Providing tools and tips for kids in a generic way so they can look out for any potential signs in their friends and ultimately normalising it to a point that kids feel comfortable and encouraged to talk about it enough to take action.
These are just a few suggestions that I’m convinced would definitely have helped me back in the day. Open to anymore and very curious to know how teachers out there are coping/dealing with the subject.