Domestic Violence PowerPoint

H. Norman Wright
Tristan, Princess & James
Jacob & Alex
The Risk of
Working with
1. Empathy
2. Trauma in our life – unresolved trauma
3. Children’s trauma
4. Mission failure—“I didn’t help them.”
Part of being human is the ability to be
affected by the people and circumstances
of our lives.
1. We are vulnerable to secondary stress. We
have already noted that the literature
suggests that trauma therapists often
manifest symptoms similar to their client.
The research says if you sit with trauma
long enough, it will traumatize you too.
2. We are vulnerable to spiritual struggles. Not
only can therapists demonstrate
symptoms of secondary stress disorder,
they can also reflect the person’s
struggles to hold simultaneously the
reality of evil and suffering with the
eternal truth of a loving and sovereign
If you do not ask questions, then its
doubtful that you have truly entered into
the other’s suffering. However, such
questions easily lead to wondering
whether or not God is good, whether or
not he is love.
3. We may find our voice silenced. Our voice
can be silenced when feelings become
numb and we make an effort to avoid
certain thoughts and activities. Voice can
be silenced when we must carry intense,
difficult material alone because of the
need for confidentiality and the absence
of anyone with which to debrief. Voice
can be stilled by thoughts such as, No-one
believes this anyway.
4. We may feel isolated. Isolation occurs when a
counselor or pastor experiencing PTSD
shows diminished interest in normal
activities or begins detaching from others.
5. We may feel powerless. We were meant to
have influence, to create, to govern. We
were not intended to be invisible, helpless
people who leave no mark. However,
trauma therapy can overwhelm us with
feelings of helplessness.
Dr. Diane Langberg
Loss is a
Part of Life
Loss of a favorite toy
Dropping an ice cream cone in the dirt
Not receiving an anticipated gift
A friend starts playing with someone else
Parents decide to move away from the familiar
A pet gets lost or dies
Divorce—Mom or Dad remarries
Being promoted to an advanced class and
leaving your friends behind
A teacher leaving in the middle of the
school year
A class mate dies
Having your friends promoted to an
advanced class and being left behind
Not making the Little League or soccer
Not getting invited to a birthday party
Not getting a favorite teacher of your
A grandparent dies
Gaining weight
Discovering you were adopted
Loss of innocence
Losing a library book
Catching the “tooth fairy” in the act
Five-year-old –
“What does dead
What are Children
Taught About Loss &
Grief? – Usually Five
1. Don’t feel
The Funeral Fable
The Anxiety Fable
The News Fable
The Bad Dream Fable
Sharing a narrative about a favorite activity
provides important information that may
reflect developmental and cultural
influences in terms of their comfort with,
and language abilities for, articulating
details and communicating with adults.
A baseline narrative, for example, might
reveal that the child has a very limited
vocabulary for identifying feelings and is
unable to offer more than three-word
sentence descriptions about the favorite
Therapist: I’m really enjoying getting to
know you, and I wondered if you would
tell me about an activity you participated
in recently that you really enjoyed. Can
you tell me about a favorite activity or a
party you went to recently that you
Child: Well, I could tell you about a
birthday party I went to this weekend,
but it wasn’t that much fun.
Therapist: That’s OK. I’d like to hear about
it anyway.
Child: OK.
Therapist: I didn’t go to that birthday party,
so could you tell me all about it? Tell me
everything that happened from the time
you arrived to the time the birthday cake
was brought out. And maybe you could
tell me how you were feeling and what
you were saying to yourself during the
As much as possible, allow the child to
provide a spontaneous narrative.
However, when there are very long
pauses or the child gets significantly off
task you may jump in with one of these
questions or statements:
1. Ask broad, open-ended questions:
“What were you thinking?”
“What were you saying to yourself?”
“How were you feeling?”
“What happened next?”
2. Make clarifying and reflective
“Tell me more about it…
“I wasn’t there, so tell me…”
“I want to know all about…”
“Repeat the part about…”
Repeat this exercise, this time applying it
to a traumatic experience.
Therapist: Can you tell me why your mom
brought you to see me?
Child: I think she wants me to ask to talk
about what happened when the police
took my dad away.
Therapist: I’d like you to tell me more
about that. You did such a good job
telling me all about what happened at
the birthday party. Now I’d like you to
tell me about everything that happened
on the day the police came to your home.
Would you like to tell me about what
was happening before the police came or
what happened after the police came to
your home?
Child: I’ll tell you what happened after the
police came ‘cause I don’t think you want
to hear the scary stuff before they came.
Therapist: I’d like to hear about the scary
stuff too, but today I’d like you to tell me
everything that happened from the time
the police arrived at your house until
they left with your dad. And please tell
me what you were feeling and what you
were saying to yourself while all this was
Child: OK. I’ll try.
2. Replace the Loss
“Mr. Hamster you were a good hamster.
I’m sorry for the times I didn’t clean your
cage. I was mad the time you bit me, but
that’s okay. I wish you didn’t have to get
sick and die. I wanted to play with you
more. I loved you, and I know that you
loved me. Good-bye, Mr. Hamster.”
Completion is the action of discovering and
communicating, directly or indirectly, the
undelivered emotions which attach to
any relationship that ends. Reviewing a
relationship helps children discover the
feelings they wish had ended different,
better or more.
The review will also reveal unrealized
hopes, dreams and expectations about
the future. The child will discover things
they wish they had said or done and
things they wish they hadn’t said or
After uncovering those areas that are
emotionally incomplete, there is one
more step before those undelivered
emotions can be communicated. They
must be converted into one of four
emotional categories, which lead to
The categories are simple:
significant emotional statements
fond memories.
Apologies – Mr. Hamster, “I’m sorry for the
times I didn’t clean your cage.”
Forgiveness – “Mr. Hamster, you were a
good hamster…I was mad the time you
bit me, but that’s okay.”
Significant emotional statements – “Mr.
Hamster, you were a good hamster. I
wish that you didn’t have to get sick and
Fond memories - “I loved you and know
that you loved me.”
3. Grieve Alone
4. Be Strong
5. Keep Busy
I am not sure exactly how it works, but this
is amazingly accurate. Read the full
description before looking at the picture.
The picture below has 2 identical dolphins
in it. It was used in a case study on stress
levels at St. Mary’s Hospital.
Look at both dolphins jumping out of the
water. The dolphins are identical. A
closely monitored scientific study
revealed that, in spite of the fact that the
dolphins are identical, a person under
stress would find differences in the two
The more differences a person finds
between the dolphins, the more stress
that person is experiencing.
Look at the photograph and if you find
more than one or two differences you
may want to take a vacation.
What is
The “crazy” feelings of grief are actually a
sane response to grief. The following
examples are all symptoms of normal
• distorted thinking patterns, “crazy
and/or irrational thoughts, fearful
• feelings of despair and hopelessness
• out of control or numbed emotions
• changes in sensory perceptions (sight,
tasted, smell, etc.)
• increased irritability
• may want to talk a lot or not at all
• memory lags and mental “short-circuits”
• inability to concentrate
• obsessive focus on the loved one
• losing track of time
• increase or decrease of appetite and/or
sexual desire
• difficulty falling or staying asleep
• dreams in which the deceased seems to
visit the griever
• nightmares in which death themes are
• physical illness like the flu, headaches or
other maladies
• shattered beliefs about life, the world,
and even God
Grief will take longer than you’ve
imagined. It tends to intensify at three
months, special dates and the one year
Grief is a journey, a process and there is
A seven-year-old girl lived with her mother
and her mother’s live-in boyfriend, who
hit her mother on an ongoing basis.
The seven-year-old child called the 911
dispatchers. She was articulate and quite
knowledgeable. She lived with her
mother and her mother had passed out
on the floor. The little girl described the
symptoms and then said her mother
wasn’t breathing.
The dispatcher heard the little girl go over
and check the mother’s pulse and then,
over the phone, heard the little girl give
her CPR. Unfortunately, the mother died.
The phone line was kept open and the
dispatcher heard the sheriff’s deputy
arrive and heard him pick up the little
girl and hold her and talk to her for
twenty-five minutes.
Describe how you would introduce
yourself to the child.
Describe what you believe this child has
What information do you need at this
What is your goal in working with this
5. What questions might you ask? What
questions might the child be wondering
but not asking? How would you bring
these questions to the surface as well as
answer them?
6. What is your response if she says,
“Mama’s boyfriend hit her?”
Be sure to get down on the child’s level
or sit next to her on the couch. Ask her
name and then say, “My name is
and I came over to spend
some time with you to see if I could help
in any way. Tell me a little about you.”
Just being there, being present and
providing safety for the child is our task.
I might ask if she has a favorite stuffed
toy she would like to hold and if so send
someone to bring it.
2. The child has been traumatized. Not only
has she seen her mother die in front of
her but she wasn’t able to save her. Here
are some possible results of this
experience. Her thinking process has
been distorted. She could experience
confusion, a distortion of time,
difficulties in solving problems and in
figuring out what’s best to do next.
In other words, as a result of trauma,
something happens in the brain that
affects the way she processes
information. It affects how she (or any
person, for that matter) interprets and
stores the event she’s experienced. In
effect, it overrides her alarm system.
Hypersensitivity can actually become
wired into her basic brain chemistry and
bodily functions. Her body is out of sync.
Her heart could be pounding. She could
experience nausea, cramps, sweating,
headaches, and even muffled hearing.
Emotionally she’s riding a roller coaster.
She could be irritable, afraid, anxious,
frustrated, and angry or just numb.
You may eventually expect extremes of
behavior—either overresponding or
underresponding. Either way, her
behavior may be off. She’s probably
slower in what she does, wanders
aimlessly, is dejected, has difficulty
remembering and could be hysterical,
out of control and hyper. These are all
3. There are a number of practical matters
such as caregiving for this child as well
as continued counseling in the weeks
ahead. It’s as though you have a dual
role of interacting and helping the child
as well as making sure she’s safe and
taken care of in the future.
4. A counselor’s goal is to provide support,
comfort and safety for this child. There
are many questions we could use to help
her at this time. When you ask these it
will be at your discretion.
When children experience a crisis or
trauma it’s important to help children
feel free to speak freely and to
voluntarily tell you about their
experiences of what happened. Never
force or pressure them to tell you
anything they are not yet willing to
verbalize. Once they feel safe and
comfortable, they may want to share
with you what they went through.
Here is a list of what you can say to
support children who are ready to tell
their story. You may need to talk in this
It’s often helpful to talk about what
Talking about what happened can help
you let go of painful thoughts and
Draw a picture of what’s in your mind.
Who would you like to spend time with
now? Write a story about what’s in your
Thoughts cannot make bad things
happen or prevent them from
I can handle whatever you would like to
tell me about. Your thoughts don’t scare
or worry me.
Anything you think about is normal for
what you have been through. Who
would you like to tell your story to?
Having frightening thoughts does not
mean you are going crazy. What
happened was crazy, you are not.
What do you think happened?
What do you wonder about it?
What most concerned you?
What’s your most painful moment or
memory? Where is that pain right now?
What was your first reaction?
What’s not being talked about?
Are other people right or wrong about
what they’re saying happened?
What was handled well?
Who was helpful and why?
All of your thoughts before, during and
after this event are normal.
5. It’s difficult to predict their questions but
here are some possibilities:
“Did I cause my mommy’s death?”
“Isn’t she just sleeping and will she wake
up soon?”
“What happens when someone dies?”
“Why didn’t God save her?”
“I keep hearing her breathe, when will that
“What will happen to me now?”
“Can I go where they’re taking my
“What did I do wrong?”
“Can I talk to my mommy if she’s in
Please forward to cat lovers everywhere
who, like myself, are very concerned
about their hygiene.
Thoroughly clean the toilet.
Add the required mount of shampoo to
the toilet water, and have both lids lifted.
Obtain the cat and soothe him while you
carry him towards the bathroom.
In one smooth movement, put cat in the
toilet and close both lids (you may need
to stand on the lid so he cannot escape).
CAUTION: Do not get any part of your
body too close to the edge, as his paws
will be reaching out for any purchase
they can find.
Flush the toilet three or four times. This
provides a “powerwash and rinse”
which I have found to be quite effective.
Have someone open the door to the
outside to ensure that there are no people
between the toilet and the outside door.
Stand behind the toilet as far as you can,
and quickly lift both lids.
The now-clean cat will rocket out of the
toilet, and run outside where he will dry
Domestic violence is a pattern of control
over the behavior, emotions and choices
of a partner. The methods of control can
include physical abuse, sexual abuse,
psychological abuse, financial abuse,
social restrictions and the destruction of
property and/or family pets.
Being exposed to domestic violence affects
children’s emotional, developmental and
physical well-being. These children are more
likely to be abused themselves, may be caught
in harm’s way during a violence episode and
be inadvertently injured, may experience
behavioral problems related to anger,
aggression and oppositional behaviors and are
more likely to experience depression and
anxiety than other children.
They also tend to spend less time with their
friends, worry more about the safety of
their friends, and are less likely to have a
best friend. At school, children exposed
to domestic violence may present with
elevated rates of behavior problems,
hyperactivity, social withdrawal, and
learning difficulties.
Children exposed to domestic violence are
also a higher risk of being exposed to
other forms of abuse.
Exposure to domestic violence may also
cause other long term effects such as an
increased risk of entering the juvenile
justice system, attempting suicide,
committing sexual assault crimes, and
abusing drugs and alcohol.
A crime against one’s own family—against
a spouse or a child—shatters the trust
upon which healthy families are built. It
cause psychological and emotional
damage that often cannot be repaired. It
can be the most damaging and
debilitating force in a child’s life.
How does this impact a child? This kind of
violence is very damaging. It robs the
child of the feeling of personal safety.
A child loses the sense that the world is a
safe place.
Children have the psychological choice of
remaining helpless or identifying with
the aggressor.
Aggression has been their only model
Children may become fearful and
Young children often blame themselves for
causing a parent’s anger.
Older children may blame themselves for
causing a parent’s anger.
Older children may blame themselves for
not intervening
Children may “tune it out”
Children often have difficulty
concentrating at school
Children who accompany their mothers to
take refuge in shelters continue to have
problems, even in a safe environment.
Children may suffer from post-traumatic
The adults may not be able to help their
Young children may accept family violence as
a normal way of life.
There may be severe problems in these
In general a child grieves differently from
an adult.
Instead of experiencing ongoing and
intense distress, a child is likely at first to
deny death, then grieve intermittently for
many years.
Other features include the following:
Grief comes out in the middle of
everyday life that can’t be predicted
A child can put grief aside easier than an
One question may be about her
grandfather’s death, the next will be
about her doll
Grief comes out in brief but intense
Being limited in verbal expression, a
child expresses his grief in actions
A child often postpones her grief—or at
least part of it
A child’s grief often lasts throughout
childhood; pieces of it last into adulthood
1/2 grapefruit,
1 slice whole wheat bread
8 oz. skim milk
4 oz. lean broiled chicken,
1 c. steamed zucchini,
1 Oreo cookie, herb tea.
Afternoon snack:
Remainder of Oreo package,
1 qt. Rocky Road ice cream,
1 jar hot fudge.
2 loaves garlic bread,
large pepperoni pizza,
3 Milky Way bars, and 1whole frozen
cheesecake, eaten directly from freezer.
What is it to a child? Types and Causes
Trauma for a child is
Sexual Abuse
Physical Abuse
Family Violence
National Disasters
Illness and Injury
Trauma by Proxy
When the actual catastrophic event
happens to someone else, but the child—
who could be miles away and who may
not know the victim—develops
posttraumatic symptoms almost as if the
trauma happened to him or her, it’s
called trauma by proxy.
Children are more vulnerable than adults
to being traumatized by distant events.
Kids are particularly at risk of
developing posttraumatic symptoms
after being exposed to events in which
they identify with the victim.
Kids who have intense emotional and
behavioral reactions to traumatic events
that happen around them but not to them,
such as these:
 A schoolmate dies in a car accident or fire.
 A teenager in the child’s school or town or
even in a neighboring community commits
 A classmate develops cancer.
A sibling or friend who has been through
a traumatic experience “spreads” his or
her posttraumatic symptoms by sharing
graphic details of the event with peers,
which leads to “contagion” of the
posttraumatic reaction.
A schoolmate is seriously injured in
school violence.
Random violence in the community
confronts the child every day.
A parent of a friend develops a fatal
A parent of a friend is injured or killed in
a workplace accident.
A parent of a friend is injured or killed in
a car accident, plane crash or commuter
railroad accident.
What is complex trauma and what makes it
different from all other forms of
psychological trauma? Complex trauma
generally refers to traumatic stressors
that are interpersonal, that is, they are
premeditated, planned and caused by
other humans, such as violating and/or
exploitation of another person.
In general, interpersonal traumatization
causes more severe reaction in the victim
than does traumatization that is impersonal,
the result of a random event or an “act of
God,” such as a disaster (i.e., a natural
disaster such as a hurricane or tsunami, a
technological disaster) or an accident (i.e.,
a motor vehicle or other transportation
accident, a building collapse) due to the
deliberate versus accidental causation.
A third type of trauma, a crossover between the
two, refers to accidents or disasters that
have a human cause.
When trauma occurs within the family
between family members or in other closed
contexts that involve significant roles and
relationships, it is usually repeated and can
become chronic over time. Child abuse of all
types (physical, sexual, emotional and
neglect) within the family is the most
common form of chronic interpersonal
Rather than creating conditions of
protection and security within the
relationship, abuse by primary
attachment figures instead becomes the
cause of great distress and creates
conditions of gross insecurity and
instability for the child including
misgivings about the trustworthiness of
When abuse occurs with a member of the
family or someone else in close proximity
and in an ongoing relationship with the
child (i.e., a clergy member, a teacher, a
coach and a therapist), it often occurs
repeatedly and, in many cases becomes
chronic and escalates over time. The
victimization might take place on a
routine basis or it might happen
occasionally or intermittently.
Whatever the case, the victim usually does
not have adequate time to regain
emotional equilibrium between
occurrences and is left with the
knowledge that it can happen again at
any time. This psychological energy that
would normally go to learning and
development instead goes to coping and
Recent studies have documented that abuse
and other trauma result in changes in the
child’s neurophysiological development,
that in turn, result in changes in learning
patterns, behavior, beliefs and
cognitions, identity development, selfworth and relations with others, to name
the most common.
What happens
to us in trauma?
100 Year Flood
After trauma, even gentle showers of
information from everyday experiences
may end up flowing in the streams
formed by trauma.
The brain of the traumatized child, forms
itself quite literally around the
experiences it encounters. The child
responds accordingly.
When information comes into the brain that
approximates past experiences of terror,
the brain rapidly process the information
and the child responds accordingly.
One of the primary ways the child
continues to experience trauma long after
the offender is gone or the incident has
ended the continuing stress response
within the child’s body. Memory of
trauma is stored in multiple ways and in
multiple places within the brain.
The body often remembers much more
through feelings, smells, sensations and
the body responses (often called state
memory) than the cognitive brain can
In a variety of ways the brain signals the
body long after the initial trauma has
ended that the trauma is still occurring.
The signal keeps the child in survival
mode continuously.
On a continuum from mild to extreme, the
brain of a traumatized child is caught in
a reactive cycle of perceived threats.
Many abused children do not understand
what they feel or why they act as they do.
As adults, one of our most frequent (and
unhelpful) questions we ask is, “Why did
you do that?”
Abused children have had a computer chip
installed in their brain by their abuser,
which continues the experience of abuse
long after the perpetrator is not in the
child’s life. This is an analogy of what
Emotions that arise from past trauma have
neural pathways that bypass cortical
processing. In these cases the
traumatized child feels stress, threat,
terror and a host of other associated
feelings instantaneously, without
necessarily involving the thinking
regions of the brain.
The fact that the brain develops sequentially—
and also so rapidly in the first years of life—
explains why extremely young children are
at such great risk of suffering longs effects of
trauma; their brains are still developing. The
same miraculous plasticity that allows young
brains to quickly learn love and language,
unfortunately, also makes them highly
susceptible to negative experiences as well.
At any age, however, when people are
faced with a frightening situation their
brains begin to shut down their highest
cortical regions first. We lose the capacity
to plan, or to feel hunger, because neither
are of any use to our immediate survival.
Often we lose the ability to “think” or
even speak during an acute threat. We
just react. And with prolonged fear there
can be chronic or near-permanent
changes in the brain.
The brain alterations that result from
lingering terror; especially early in life,
may cause an enduring shift to a more
impulsive, more aggressive, less
thoughtful and less compassionate way
of responding to the world.
This is because systems in the brain change
in a “use-dependent” way as we noted
earlier. Just like a muscle, the more a
brain system like the stress response
network gets “exercised,” the more it
lunges and the more risk there is of
altered functioning. . At the same time,
the less the corticol regions, which
usually control and modulate stress, are
used, the smaller and weaker they get.
Exposing a person to chronic fear is like
weakening the braking power of a car while
adding a more powerful engine: you’re
altering the safety mechanisms that keep the
“machine” safe (from going dangerously out
of control. Such use-dependent changes in
the relative power of different brain
systems—just like the use-dependent
templates one form’s in one’s memory about
what he world is like—are critical
determinants of human behavior.
Traumatic Dreams
Memory Disturbance
Persistent Intrusive Recollections
Anger Irritability
Dazed or Numb Appearance
Panic Attacks
Phobia Formation
Startle Response
1. Ask for just one detail about the trauma
(“Just tell me one thing.”)
2. Agree on a certain amount of time to be
spent on the trauma narrative (“only 5
3. Plan a fun activity for the end of the
session after working on the trauma
narrative (e.g., telling jokes, sharing a
4. Encourage positive self-talk (e.g., “I can
do this”; “I was very brave for telling.”)
5. Joke (“You don’t remember anything?
You gotta be kidding.)
6. Emphasize that you know how hard it is
to write this story (“I know that this can
be hard, but you’ve shown such courage!
I know you can do this.”)
7. Praise (you are one of the bravest kids
I’ve ever known.”)
8. Share your personal experience with
trauma to model talking about it (if
9. Use funky art techniques (we had a kid
write the whole trauma narrative on a
scarf; another agreed to write it on one of
the author’s [J.A.C.] arm but when she
said it would be tough to photocopy, he
agreed to go with paper).
10. Create the narrative with songs, colors,
etc. Let the child pick a song, color,
flower, animal, smell, etc., that describes
an episode, adding to it gets easier.
11. Use the computer to create the narrative
and agree to 10 minutes of a computer
game of the child’s choice (within reason)
after working on the trauma narrative.
12. Young kids; Let them show you what
happened with dolls or puppets, then
write it down and read it to them the
next session, letting them correct/change
your narrative so that it accurately
reflects what happened.
13. Ask the child to explain what he/she
thinks will happen if he/she talks about
the trauma.
14. Praise the child for small steps, such as
writing one sentence or talking about the
trauma in the abstract.
15. Use the “riding the bike” analogy—“It’s
had at first but gets easier as you
practice” (make sure the child can ride a
bike first).
16. Do a “life narrative” instead of a
“trauma narrative.”
17. Use the Storybook weaver Deluxe
computer software program (available at and let the child
make illustrations for each chapter
18. Let the child use window magic
markers to create a “public service
announcement” about the trauma.
I need some help. My cousin’s cat had
kittens and he was able to give away all
but 3 of them. I told him I would help him
find homes for the last 3. I can’t take any
because I’m allergic, but if 3 of you could
take just 1 it would be such a help and
the kittens could have a nice home.
Since he lives up by the San Mateo Nuclear
Power Plan I’ll go pick them up for you.
I’ve attached pictures of the last 3 kittens.
Will you help?
What are Some Common
Behavioral Symptoms of
Child Who Has Been
Exposed to Domestic
Very young children who have been
through a traumatic experience may
exhibit the following signs of distress;
 They may fuss more
 They may “lose” developmental steps
already acquired
 They may fail to learn new and expected
developmental tasks
Bullying, physical aggressiveness and
insulting behavior toward peers
Withdrawal from peers and social
contacts and overall poor peer
Difficulty separating, especially from the
battered parent
Oppositional and defiant behaviors with
authority figures, especially with the battered
Increased verbal aggressiveness/talking back
Bed-wetting daytime “accidents,” “baby
talk,” or other regressive behaviors
Difficulty focusing and learning while at
Loss of appetite or changes in eating patterns
Failure to thrive in infants
Nightmares, insomnia or other sleep
Increased violent behavior toward
siblings and peers
Running away from home
Role reversal: taking on parental role
Physically, verbally or sexually abusing
their dating partners
Being victimized physically, verbally or
sexually by their dating partners
Violence toward the battered
parent/imitating words and behaviors of
the abuser
Acting as the battered parent’s “protector”
Drug and/or alcohol abuse
Poor peer relationships and choices
Increased nervousness, anxiety and fear
Depressed mood and suicidal thoughts
Feeling responsible for protecting the
battered parent and siblings
Excessive worry about the safety of
Embarrassment (not wanting peers to be
aware of family violence)
Resentment toward the battered parent
and siblings
Fear of day-to-day arguments
Fantasies of standing up to, or hurting
the abuser
Desire to have the same power as the
Confusion regarding “loyalty” to both
the abusive and abused parent
How Do
Children Respond
They may become anxious and clingy,
not wanting to separate from their
parents at nursery school or the babysitter’s house.
They may seem to take a step backward
in development.
They may become aggressive in their
play with other children, with their
parents, or with their own toys.
They may play the same game over and
They may express magical ideas about
the event. (“The storm came because I
was so mad” or “Daddy left because I
was bad”).
They may revert to developmentally
earlier coping mechanism, such as an
ego-centered view (i.e. thinking that
someone died because they had bad
thoughts about the person).
They may compensate for feeling
helpless during the crisis by blaming
themselves for elements of what
Their lack of control over the trauma may
make them feel that their future is unsure,
which can lead some children to act
They may experience a significant change in
school performance. It’s not uncommon for
a child to have difficulty concentrating and
performing in school after a traumatic
event. On the either hand, they may become
intensely focused on schoolwork to the
exclusion of having fun.
They may test the rules about bedtime,
homework, or chores.
They may have an interruption in
relating to a best friend.
They may experience sleep disturbances.
The child might have nightmares or
difficulty falling asleep.
They may join in reckless play.
They may talk about the supernatural.
Magical thinking still exists in this age
group, though it takes a different form.
Adolescents, or “almost adults,” are an
inherently erratic bunch, and their
responses to trauma reflect their nature.
They have a grown-up grasp of the
reality of the traumatic situation, but
their reactions can swing wildly from
that of a mature adult to that of a young
child. One minute they’re asking what
they can do help out, and the next
minute they’re acting recklessly.
They often feel that only their peers can
understand what they are going through,
and they go to their peers for support.
They may get involved in risky
behaviors, such as experimenting with
drugs, becoming sexually active, or being
truant from school, as a way of handling
their anxiety and countering feelings of
helplessness. Teens behave this way
because after a trauma they often feel
their future is limited.
They may develop a negative self-image
because they were not able to avoid or
alter the situation.
They are likely to engage in revenge
fantasies against the person or people
they hold responsible for the trauma and
then feel guilty about their vengeful
They may experience a shift (either an
intensification or withdrawal) in the
normal developmental tasks of their age,
such as dating, friendships, or sense of

similar documents