Domestic violence is a family affair. Even if a child does not directly witness violence between the adults in the household, there is still an impact on the children in the home. Consequently, children manifest their fears and concerns in a variety of ways: physical illness, emotional withdrawal, bullying, aggression, shoplifting, self-injury, poor school performance and other inappropriate behaviors. They may blame themselves, or feel their actions are directly responsible for the batterer’s behavior. The primary victim of abuse may be so focused on trying to keep the family safe, they may not be able to immediately address the effects the violence has on the children. DVI realizes that children need a way to safely talk about their questions, experiences and fears, and we have created a children’s counseling/advocacy program to meet these needs.
Programs are structured around specific age groups so that a child receives assistance that is age appropriate. Using discussion, multimedia, art activities and play therapy, children are encouraged to examine and express the emotions they are feeling and to do so safely, and without judgment. Recognizing that the needs of children in shelter are different than those who are not, separate counseling sessions are available for children in each situation.
We know that women in shelter need to be able to participate in individual counseling and goal planning while their children are not in school or a child care program. Our transitional housing location offers child centered activities with supervision to permit women in residence to participate in the required sessions.
The Child Advocacy program is regularly reviewed and enhanced to make sure that we are providing the most appropriate and useful assistance to our youngest victims.
All Children’s Advocacy Services are Provided Without Charge.