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I’m experiencing family violence. What can I do?

It’s always tough to experience violence within our own family. Fortunately, there are solutions. Here is some information so you can figure out what kind of violence is happening, and our advice on how to get out or help a family member.

The different faces of violence

Family violence occurs between members of a nuclear or extended family. It can be physical, verbal, psychological, or sexual.

Spousal violence

  • This happens between two adults in a relationship, such as your parents. It can make you feel a storm of emotions: powerlessness because you aren’t able to stop it, fear, sadness, anger, disappointment, etc. It changes your perception of your parents, the other people you know, and what a spousal relationship is like.
  • If there is violence between your parents, it can give you the impression that that’s a normal way of solving problems in a relationship. It could lead you to use violence yourself to settle disagreements with other people or in your romantic relationships.

Violence toward a child or teen

  • This is a kind of physical, psychological, or sexual violence by a parent or other family member directed at a child or teen. It can also refer to neglect, which harms the young person’s development.
  • This kind of violence can have an impact on the whole family. In addition to stirring up your emotions, it can change your perception of your parents and other people. It can result in attention, concentration, and motivation problems at school. This violence might give you the idea that this is a normal way of expressing emotions and facing difficulties, leading you to use violence too.

Violence toward a parent

  • This is verbal, physical, or psychological violence that a teenager or child directs toward one of his/her parents: hitting, making unrealistic demands, manipulating his/her feelings and emotions, staying away from home to make the parent anxious, not showing any signs of affection, trying to control his/her life or the home, or breaking up his/her romantic relationships.
  • This kind of violence can have psychological impacts on the parent, the teen, and other family members. In this situation, the teen is taking control and the parent loses his/her role of authority.

What can I do if I’m experiencing violence?

Violence is unacceptable. If you’re suffering family violence, witnessing violence, or being violent to other members of your family, look for help.

If you or a member of your family is a victim of violence, tell yourself that…

  • It’s not your fault! You aren’t responsible for your relatives’ violent behaviours.
  • You don’t deserve to be a victim of violence.
  • You have the right to be safe.
  • You’re not alone: there are lots of people and resources to help you.

Here are some ideas to find solutions:

Even if it’s hard to do, talk to an adult you trust: a family member, a parent, or a counsellor at your school or Tel-jeunes.

Come up with a game plan. For example, figure out where you could go and who would take you in, in an emergency.

Call 911 if you’re in danger right now. You’ll get help fast.

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