For children who witness domestic violence, home is not a safe or happy place. Every year as many as 3.3 million children in the United States see or hear their mothers being hit, pushed, kicked, thrown down stairs, verbally abused, or murdered. The effects of what they witness can be devastating and long-lasting.
Witnessing domestic violence causes physical and emotional harm to children. Children may feel frightened, anxious, depressed, or angry. Often they feel guilty, as if somehow it was their fault. Some children feel withdrawn, while others become aggressive, copying the abuser’s behavior. They may feel pressure to choose which parent to love, or feel torn between love and anger toward the abuser.
Children who are exposed to battering become fearful and anxious. They never know what will trigger the abuse, and therefore, never feel safe. They may feel isolated, worthless and powerless. Most experts believe that children who are raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an effective way to resolve problems. It is important that children get counseling for these issues so that they have the coping tools to lead healthy and safe lives once they overcome the effects of the trauma, and to break the cycle of violence.
VIBS offers counseling for children as young as 31/2 who have witnessed domestic violence or homicide.
Children’s Counseling at VIBS Consists of:
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Creative Arts Therapy
- Drama Therapy
- Play Therapy
- Safety planning with parent and child, including addressing visitation issues
- Parent Sessions & weekly Consultations for non-offending parents or guardians
Through play, art, or drama therapy, the child and therapist interact, using toys, games, stories and other creative materials. The goal is to reinforce safety, reduce PTSD symptoms, enhance coping skills, process traumatic events and provide psychoeducation on healthy relationships for the future.
VIBS specializes in counseling for children who have witnessed or are affected by severe violence, such as:
- Witnesses to domestic murder or murder-suicide
- Children whose abusive parent has committed suicide
- Children whose victimized parent has life threatening
You can call (631) 360-3730 to learn more about the VIBS Children’s Program or to schedule an appointment.