When & Where to Seek Help For Kids

Picture of two women and phoneIf you are in immediate danger, call 911. 

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, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund, 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.

When Do Children Need Professional Help?

Many children exposed to violence can resolve their feelings and concerns with the help of their mother, other family members and community. However, there are instances when professional help is needed. Consider seeking professional help in the following situations:

  • The child is vulnerable because of other stressful events or losses they have experienced.
  • Parents are highly upset and less able to respond to the child’s needs.
  • A child is physically hurting him/herself or others.
  • A child’s parent has been the victim of violence.
  • A child’s problems have gone on for 3–4 months with no improvement.
  • A child shows numerous behaviors listed in the effects section of this website.

If you are a parent worried about your child, remember that you know your child best. For referrals to programs in your area that can help visit: The National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

If you are worried about a child you know well, remember that you play a very important role!

Where Can You Seek Professional Help?

There are a number of institutions and agencies that provide help. Typically, all offer a specific set of services. For examples, courts provide services around legal matters. Below is a partial list of helping agencies:

  • Domestic Violence Programs
  • Health Care Providers
  • Schools
  • Courts
  • Mental Health Providers
  • Religious Institutions
  • Police Departments
  • District Attorney’s Office

Who Can You Contact for Help or a Referral?

Talk to someone who knows your child well. He or she may be able to provide counseling or a referral. Consider contacting the following professionals:

  • Domestic Violence Advocates. Domestic Violence Advocates can be found in health centers and hospitals, mental health centers, courts, and shelters. They are extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of domestic violence and can help navigate victims through many complex systems such as the courts. Many can assist victims of domestic violence help their children through direct service and referrals.
  • Health Care Providers – The Child’s Pediatrician. Pediatricians are committed to keeping their patients’ bodies and minds healthy. They can help parents to understand their child’s symptoms and behaviors, address medical and emotional concerns, and offer appropriate referrals. Many providers have a list of counselors, advocates or other resources to help children and families. They can also help the parent navigate the managed care system.
  • School Counselors and Administrators. School counselors are trained to recognize problems that may affect a child’s developmental growth and learning. Administrators include school principals, department heads, and head teachers. They may refer the family to experts in the field of children exposed to violence as well as set up teaching, learning, and counseling programs that take into account the educational needs of children exposed to violence.
  • Teachers. Most teachers see children everyday of the week. Children learn best when teachers can collaborate with parents and other service providers. Since their goal is to help children be successful in school, they can make classroom adjustments that help stressed children learn the material with which they are presented. They often are aware of local services that are available and can tell you how to access them.
  • Clergy and the religious community. Of course, clergy look out for our spiritual well being. They can help us keep our faith in the face of difficult times and that faith can serve as an important resource when we are worried about our children. Sometimes faith communities join hands in an attempt to end violence. Their goal is to create a network of congregations that are better equipped to respond to family violence.
  • Mental Health Providers. Mental health providers include social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, psychiatric nurses, and marriage and family therapists. They help adults and children cope with the emotional experience of being exposed to violence.
  • Police. The job of police is to keep people safe. Not only can they be helpful in relation to a crime but those departments with community policing programs are also very well informed about community resources. Some even have their own youth programs.
Reprinted from The Child Witness to Violence Project, Boston Medical Center