“Why can’t Dad come home – I miss him”
These words broke my heart. My eldest son David* loved his Dad so much.
David had been so angry for a long time – but the final straw for him was when I couldn’t take any more of his Dad’s verbal and physical abuse, and called the Police. Both my kids were confused and angry – refusing to talk to me and frequently lashing out. When I look back now, there had been a steady change in both of them as our family unit gradually imploded.
When the KIDshine advocate Debbie* came to see me after the arrest, she spent a lot of time listening to understand about my struggles through my relationship, and how confused I felt about what lay ahead of me. We also talked lots about the needs of my children and the issues I’d been facing with them.
Before Debbie introduced herself to my kids and began to help us, I had known with a heavy heart that I had gradually been losing my lovely, bubbly children.
David had always looked up to his Dad a great deal, but he’d begun skipping school, was becoming more and more defiant, and showing sure signs of mirroring his father’s aggressive behaviour. I could see that in few years I would potentially be fearful of him too. Amy* my daughter had become steadily withdrawn. She was struggling at school and when she came home, she would quietly do her homework and then retreat to her room. She was becoming increasingly nervous when her Dad was at home.
Over the years, I had tried so hard to shield them from the abuse I was receiving. I would make sure the house was tidy, with no toys or anything lying around when my husband came home. If he arrived home in a bad mood and started yelling or verbally abusing me, I would send the children to their room so they didn’t have to witness what was coming.
Debbie spent time with my children together and separately. She patiently listened, asked questions, and gave them the space to open up.
Amy shared that she was constantly on edge and scared of doing something wrong around her father, believing that if she left things lying around, or her Dad didn’t like what she said that I would end up paying the price for it. She had heard him telling me that I was a ‘useless mother’ and threatening to have them taken away from me.
She was exhausted, just trying to do everything she could to prove I was a good Mum. All this was affecting her own mental health. She couldn’t concentrate at school and was so scared of her Dad that she didn’t want to ever be alone with him.
David also opened up to Debbie. He said that he had very little respect for me and felt I was weak for not standing up to my husband. His Dad always had money and came and went as he pleased. He liked to talk the big talk, telling David about being ‘the man of the house’, and demanding respect. It was no wonder David had begun to take on similar traits.
Over time, Debbie aided hugely in rebuilding and strengthening our family. She helped my children understand that our marriage wasn’t safe or healthy – that no one should live in fear of a family member, and that we should be able to speak or act freely without fear of punishment. She offered reassurance that although Dad wouldn’t be coming home, they could still see him. She also helped create a safety plan and gave them important tools to support themselves and each other.
I’m so incredibly grateful that with the help of KIDshine, I was finally able to have my children happy and settled.
Thanks to all of this hard work, David and Amy now feel much more at peace and are managing a lot better at school. I’m happy that we are now safe and have been able to work on rebuilding our relationships, and that we are all sleeping better and feeling much more content.
Where a while back I didn’t know what my children’s future would look like, and would often lay awake worrying about how it might go – I now have high hopes for a happy and fulfilling life for them both.
I cannot thank Shine enough, and especially our KIDshine advocate – for their wonderful support helping David, Amy and I rebuild our lives and keeping violence out of our home.
— Jayne* (David and Amy’s Mum).
With over 90,000 children exposed to domestic violence each year and many going on to repeat the cycle of domestic violence in their own adult relationships, it’s crucial we are there to support them – not only to heal, but to understand how to live violent free lives.
With your help Shine can be there for the thousands of families facing situations like this every day. You can help support children like David & Amy who are escaping their violent homes by donating today.
* Names and some details changed to protect privacy