For children who experience 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 loved one 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 Some children feel withdrawn, while others become aggressive, copying the abuser’s behavior.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. Through counseling children can learn the coping tools to help them lead healthy and safe lives and to break the cycle of violence.
VIBS offers counseling for children as young as age 3 who have witnessed violence. Counseling 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 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.
To learn more about the VIBS Children’s Program or to schedule an appointment call our 24/7 hotline at (631) 360-3606.