What About the Kids Graphic

Domestic violence affects not only women who are abused by their intimate partners,

but also children living with these adults.

 

In fact, most people assume that adult women are the primary residents in women’s shelters, but that truly is not the case.  The presence of so many children argues for greater attention to their needs.

 

Our role is to create a welcoming environment, to the best of our ability, that supports their everyday routines and needs.

 

Youth may have a difficult time adjusting to a new environment like shelters;   Residing in a shelter may be a new and stressful experience for youth who are now staying in one room, most times with their entire family and sometimes shared with other families.  As a result, they lose a sense of autonomy and independence as well as their own space to just “be themselves”

 

It is within our grasp to encourage youth to share their stories with others who are willing to listen such as offering choices and opportunities to teenagers  about how they want to express their story. For example,  some youth may choose to write and draw while others choose to sing, play music or talk.

Honouring  teenagers’ voices allows them to have some control over their lives and helps them deal with their feelings about exposure to domestic violence .

 

Advocating for teens also teaches them to advocate for their own voices to be heard.  These skills include helping teens learn to express their feelings and opinions in a respectful manner, be heard and learn how to manage their own thoughts.

 

These skills can be taught by modeling healthy decision-making, offering choices, and encouraging coping techniques as they come up. 

 

We can be available to teens without forcing them to participate or interact in formal therapeutic activities.  Instead, we encourage teens to participate in shelter activities voluntarily while also giving them a space of their own. 

 

Simply knowing a person is available to them if and when they want to talk provides teens with options to seek help on their terms. 

 

Teenagers living with stressful events do what they can to cope with the stressors they are faced with. “Coping” is trying to deal with how to make everything come together to feel normal again. Some ways to cope are more helpful than others such as expressing themselves in their own creative ways such as this journal entry shared by one of our creative female teenagers (13 years old) living in shelter.

 

This is her experience:

 

The Life I Once Loved

At the end of the day, I used to be able to go to

A place I once called home,

A place I once stood out,

A place I once loved,

A place I once wasn’t welcomed, yet I was welcomed,

A place I would go back to anytime, anyday

But most importantly…

A place I once belonged.

But now what?  What home is there? What place is there?

At the end of the day I go to

A place that I will never call home,

A place that I will never call home,

A place I will never stand out,

A place I will never love,

A place I’m welcomed, yet never welcomed,

A place I never want to go back to

But most importantly…

A place I will never belong.

 

Sincerely,

A lost girl

(Age 13)

 

Written by:

Helen Morlock

Child & Youth Worker