Resources for Families

shutterstock_178357874The most important protective resource to enable a child to cope with exposure to violence is a strong relationship with a competent, caring, positive adult, most often a parent, (Osofsky, 1999).

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Hotline advocates are available 24/7 for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.

Futures Without Violence does not offer services directly for victims or survivors of abuse, however many national and local organizations do. If you would like to speak to a domestic violence counselor, contact the resources on this list for free, confidential support. These organizations are available from anywhere within the United States. Many operate 24 hours a day and in various languages.

The Magic Of Everyday Gestures:

8 Ways Parents and Caregivers Can Support children’s Healing

We know you want the best for your child, and are trying to keep them safe and healthy while they grow. Still, it’s hard being a parent, and it’s even harder when your family has experienced violence. There are simple ways to connect with your child and help them feel loved. Download the brochure in English or Spanish here or order printed copies

  1. Play with your child and enter their world. Find activities that you can do together, like reading stories, playing video games, playing pretend, drawing, or playing sports.
  2. Listen to your child to help them feel seen, heard and valued. Show them you are listening by bending down to their level, making eye contact, and putting down your phone.
  3. Be your child’s cheerleader. Tell your child what you love about them. Inspire your child to discover activities that interest them, like sports, art, music, or theatre.
  4. Comfort your child when they feel scared or overwhelmed, and practice techniques such as taking deep breaths and counting to ten. Help your child find other people and places that help them feel safe and supported.
  5. Talk to your child about their feelings. Help them to be able to label their emotions by using a feelings chart, and model healthy ways to express feelings. Ask your child about events from their day and how they made them feel.
  6. Create calm and predictable environments. Help your child know what to expect whenever possibly by creating habits and routines. Ask yourself, what rituals would work for my family each day to make it more predictable?
  7. Set clear rules and expectations about your child’s behavior and use positive reinforcement whenever possible. Clear rules might include “no name calling” and how often they can watch TV. Reward your child’s efforts to follow family rules.
  8. Create a network of support for you and your child, and be a support for other parents. At some point, we all need to ask for help. Whether your’s helping someone else or needing it yourself, it’s good to know what health, counseling, and recreation resources are part of your community.

How to Support a Child or Teen:

  • Healing begins with relationships. The adult helping relationship is the most powerful tool we have to assist kids in healing from traumatic events. Allow children and teens to stay close to their parents.
  • Help children and teens know what to expect. Provide a highly structured and predictable home and learning environment for children.
  • Let the child know that it is OK to talk about what has happened.  When children are ready, it helps to be able to talk about the violence in their lives with trusted adults.
  • Give parents support. Help parents understand that young children think differently than adults and need careful explanations about scary events.
  • Foster children’s self-esteem. Children who live with violence need reminders that they are lovable, competent and important.
  • Pay close attention to non-verbal cues. Providing positive verbal reinforcement whenever possible.
  • Give children and teens choices whenever possible. Allowing children to feel in control can help alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed and restore a sense of safety.
  • Don’t try it alone. Identify and collaborate with other caregivers in the child’s life.
  • Teach alternatives to violence. Help kids learn conflict resolution skills and about non-violent ways of playing.
  • Model nurturing in your interactions with children and teens. Serve as role models for children in resolving issues in respectful and non-violent ways.

Adapted & Reprinted from The Child Witness to Violence Project, Boston Medical Center

Additional Strategies for Promoting Resiliency Among Adolescents/Teens:

  • Answer questions honestly.
  • Find ways for teens to express feelings, i.e. writing, journaling, poems, art, etc.
  • Talk to teens about healthy relationships and help them understand the warning signs of an unhealthy dating relationship.
  • Support the creation of strong social support networks with peers, teachers, coaches, extended family, etc.
  • Actively work on repairing or creating a supportive parent-child relationship through spending time together.
  • Seek a committed mentor or other person from outside the family.
  • Advocate for positive school experiences and accommodations if needed.
  • Create opportunities for the teen to achieve a sense of mastery and a belief and one’s own efforts can make a
  • Participation in a range of extra-curricular activities such as music, sports, theater, art, volunteering, etc.
  • Create opportunities to  to ‘make a difference’ by helping  others or through part-time work.
  • Do not excessively shelter teens from challenging situations that provide opportunities to develop coping skills.
  • Expect to have to do these things again and again.

That’s Not Cool is a national public education campaign that uses digital examples of controlling, pressuring, and threatening behavior to raise awareness about and prevent teen dating abuse. The interactive website is geared towards helping teens draw their “digital line” on what is a healthy and unhealthy dating relationships.

These tip sheets created by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health provide information on the ways that experiencing abuse can affect how we think, feel, and respond to other people and the world around us. The series also provides tips on how to seek support for yourself and how to help if someone you know is being abused.