Experiencing family violence is traumatic for children and young people.
It can have long-term effects on their health and wellbeing.
Sue* works in our Family Violence services at Uniting, supporting children and young people who have experienced family violence.
Sue recently supported a woman who left her partner after years of physical and psychological abuse.
The woman fled with their 2 young children, who had also suffered abuse from their father.
“The abuse was so significant that the mother suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” says Sue.
“The children felt very unsafe when they were near their father and they didn’t know how to say ‘no’ to him. They felt like they didn’t have a voice.”
The violence started after the children were born.
“Like a lot of women in this situation, she didn’t know how to leave and was scared of what would happen if she did,” says Sue.
“She was able to leave and find somewhere to stay. But when she came to us (at Uniting) she had new challenges to deal with.
“The father was demanding to see the children 2-3 times a week.
“The court approved this, despite the children not wanting to see their father.”
Sue worked with the children throughout this time, giving them coping techniques to deal with the challenges they faced when seeing their father.
“The children attend one of our group sessions for young people impacted by family violence,” says Sue.
“The group facilitator recently told me how amazed she is with the children. They are now very vocal about their experiences and they are able to communicate their thoughts and feelings with others.”
Sue says the father is now in counselling to help him understand and work through this violent behaviour.
“The children now feel like their voices are heard,” says Sue.
“They know that if they don’t want to see their father, they don’t have to.
“They have a long road ahead of them. But we will continue to work with them to provide the support they need.”
*This is a true story about a real person. Some details such as names have been changed to respect the wishes of the person featured. The photo accompanying this story is for illustrative purposes only. It is not a photo of the person featured in this story.