What do you say to a child who has witnessed domestic violence?

This year in Maine, about 27,000 youth are estimated to have direct exposure to domestic violence as they watch events — or are victims of actions — that occur in their homes. Nearly one in 10 children saw one family member assault another within the last year.

They may see their father beat their mother or their mother verbally abuse their father. They may see fighting, screaming and tears.

In 2011, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence sponsored a survey on the prevalence of strangulation as a tactic of abuse. Callers to the domestic violence resource center helplines were asked “Have you been strangled?” Seventy-four percent of the callers answered yes.

When asked, “Do you know what stopped him?” approximately one-third responded that it was the presence of a child in the household that made the abuser stop. The trauma these children have experienced through exposure to this kind of violence has ripple effects in our communities.

In a recent OpEd, Safe Voices Executive Director Jane Morrison describes what is being done in Maine to reach out to children who have experienced or witnessed horrific experiences: http://bangordailynews.com/2013/10/16/opinion/children-dont-have-to-be-beaten-to-remember-abuse/.

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