Family violence is a common problem. Every day. Everywhere.
Sadly, families do not all live together safe and secure all the time. As a result, there are many community services for families experiencing conflict and for youth and teenagers who are dealing with family violence.
Here are some ideas about who you can talk to:
- Emergency services - 911
- Social workers and child protection workers
- Doctors, nurses and health practitioners
- Community organizations and emergency shelters
- Faith organizations
- Family members, friends and neighbours
- The Internet
Sometimes the most difficult part is deciding who to talk to and what to tell them. Once you decide who is best for you to talk to, let them know that there’s something at home that is really bothering you and ask them if you can talk to them about it. You can also write them a note or e-mail letting them know you would like to speak with them if you find this easier.
Don’t be afraid to ask the person you’re talking to what they’ll do if you tell them about the abuse or violence and what will happen with the information that you give.
You may also want to ask them for help with a safety plan. A sample safety plan you could use to plan ahead can be found here (PDF Version 68KB, PDF Help).
Safety tip: If you print this sheet out, don’t write information on it that you don’t want your abuser to know unless you’re sure they won’t find it. Also be careful about writing down things that might make them angry to see.
Help is available
Call the Kids Help Phone at
Counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Help is free, confidential and anonymous.
for more information on areas of interest to kids & teens.
Information will not be shared with anyone outside of the Kids Help Phone. There is an exception, call or click to find more details.
Kids Help Phone does not subscribe to call display, does not trace calls and does not track IP addresses. You don’t need to give your name.
When you call the Kids Help Phone, your call is free and confidential. Someone who knows about family violence will talk to you about what’s going on and help you decide what to do next. You don’t have to give your name or say where you live. If you do, it will be kept secret unless you ask them to share it or if you or another child is in danger of being hurt. They will listen to you and help you sort out what you can do to help protect yourself and any family member from being hurt.
Emergency services - 911
If you are in immediate danger or need help right away, call 911 or your local emergency number (usually listed at the front of the phone book). The emergency operator will want to know why you’ve called, what’s happening and where you are calling from. They’ll want to know who’s involved and whether you know if there are any weapons there. They’ll also want to know if anyone is hurt. When the emergency helpers get to where you are, they’ll probably stay until everyone has calmed down. Depending on how serious the situation is, they may take the violent person back to the police station with them.
If you live in an area where 9-1-1 is not available, call the Operator by dialing 0, tell them it’s an emergency and ask them to connect you with the nearest police station.
If you don’t think anyone is in immediate danger, you may want to speak to an adult you can trust to help end the violence, like one of your teachers. Although you may not have heard them talk about it, most teachers, principals and school counsellors have a lot of experience helping young people who live with violence at home. They will likely know about help available in your community and things you can do to keep safe.
If you do tell a teacher, they won’t judge you or think less of you. Instead, they’ll want to make sure that you’re OK. To do this, depending on the circumstances, they may have to talk to other people about what’s happening to get you the right kind of help. You can help them by telling them what other people they can talk to and who you think they shouldn’t talk to. If they’re aware of physical or sexual abuse or feel your life is in danger, the law requires them to call the appropriate worker so they can help you.
Social workers and child protection workers
If a social worker is called, it will likely be someone very experienced in working with families with problems like violence. It’s important to tell the social worker everything about what’s going on at home and about how you’re feeling so that they can do their best to help you. Sometimes this means they’ll also have to talk to your parents or to other adults. A social worker will try to make sure that you’re safe.
You may already know a child protection worker or social worker who’s been working with your family. Their main goal is for children and teens to be happy, healthy and safe. They will know a lot about what type of help and programs are available in your community. Check out the following websites to learn about child protection services in your province or territory.
Doctors, nurses and health practitioners
Another person you can speak to about what’s going on at home is a medical professional, like your doctor. Medical professionals will listen to what you have to say and help you to find the services you need. They’ll likely want to talk to your mom or dad about your worries. If so, let them know which adult it would be safe to talk with. They might also suggest some people you can talk to. If they think you’re being abused or are in danger, they’ll have to tell the people who can get you the help you need to be safe.
Community organizations and emergency shelters
There are many organizations that provide services to young people. Youth Groups. Boys and Girls Clubs. The YMCA/YWCA. Local community centres. United Way agencies. There are people working in these organizations who are trained to help and are sensitive to what youth need. They provide a safe place to talk about what’s happening to you.
If you or someone you know is in urgent need of a safe place to stay or need some advice about where to stay, you can call an emergency shelter. Shelters are run by community groups. The beginning of the phone book usually has the phone numbers needed for emergency situations and the yellow pages may have useful listings under “Distress Centres”, “Social Services” or “Youth Protection”. Also, many local agencies have websites with contact information.
The leader of your church, synagogue, temple or mosque can offer a helping hand and comfort to people who are experiencing difficulties, including family violence. You may feel at ease talking to them about your concerns. Places of worship may be able to provide the help you need or let you know how to get help.
Family members, friends and neighbours
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to any of these people, try talking to another family member who you think will understand and be able to help you. Or you may want to talk to a friend or your friend’s parent, or a neighbour or coach who knows you and who you can trust.
Talking helps. It often makes things clearer. Tell them what’s going on in your home and your feelings about it. They’ll listen and maybe give you some ideas about what you can do. If they’re really worried, they may want to tell someone else to get you the right help. You can let them know who you think they can talk to.
Sometimes, though, they don’t know what to say or do, but you’ll likely find that just saying something out loud is a relief. If the person you decide to speak to doesn’t give you the help you are looking for, try talking to someone else. Whatever happens, it’s important that you work together with the person you choose. You want that person to be able to help you make sure you or the family member you are concerned about is safe.
You can look on the Internet for more information about family violence.
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