There’s a difference between arguments and what’s called family violence.
Most adults have arguments from time to time. They might get angry and disagree, and that’s okay, as long as both can respectfully say what they think and how they feel.
Family violence is when a parent or other adult yells, hurts, bullies and threatens another adult, or when any family member is physically, emotionally or sexually abused. It’s NOT OK for one adult to hurt or control another person in the family. Parents and other adults should always treat each other with respect, even when they’re angry or upset.
Different kinds of family violence include:
- physical abuse or physical violence, like hitting, pushing, kicking, slapping, or using physical force
- emotional or verbal abuse, like making someone feel bad with put-downs, or when one parent controls the other one
- sexual violence, which includes forcing a person to have sex or coercing them into performing sexual activities when they don’t want to, or when they’re too young to understand or consent
Seeing one parent or adult treat another badly can be really upsetting and frightening. If this is happening, it means your home is not a safe place for you and whoever else lives with you – no one should have to feel worried or frightened in their home.
What can you do?
People in your family might know about what’s going on and not do anything to stop it. They may even want to keep it a secret, and think you don’t know what’s happening, or that you don’t understand.
This is NOT OK – family violence is dangerous and damaging for everyone. You have the right to speak up and get support – there are people out there who can help!
Talk to someone you trust – If you’re not feeling safe in your home, you have the right to tell someone! Talking about this stuff can be scary and difficult, especially if the person is someone you care about – but speaking out is the only way things can change for the better. Find someone you feel comfortable talking to, this could be a family member, friend, teacher, counsellor, or a youth worker, and of course you can call 0800 What’s Up.
Protect yourself from violence – Don’t get in the middle – stay away from the fighting! If you, a parent, or anyone is in immediate danger, it’s important to contact the police on 111 right away.
Remember, what’s happening is not your fault! – An adult’s behaviour is their own choice and you can’t change the way they choose to behave. Even if your parent is angry, they can choose how they express their anger. Kids are never, ever to blame for domestic violence.
What to do in an emergency
If things get really bad, it’s really important you, and your brothers and sisters, don’t get hurt.
- don’t get in the middle – stay away from the fighting
- call the police on 111
- go and get help from an adult you trust, or hide in a safe place