Staying safe

When my mom and step-dad get into a fight, I head for my bedroom and stay there until things settle down. I can’t help hearing them screaming at each other. My step-dad says some terrible things. My mom sobs and pleads with him. I’m getting pretty good at knowing if it’s the kind of fight that has my step-dad driving off somewhere or mom coming to get me to say we’re sleeping at Aunt Jo’s.

Fighting hurts and listening to a fight hurts, too. Even though the fights have nothing to do with you, you may feel responsible when your parents start arguing. It is normal to wish that your parents wouldn’t fight and to feel guilty, sad, and angry when they do.

Sometimes, you may try or want to try to stop parents from fighting. You may try to get one of them to apologize. Or, try to step into the middle of the fight to break it up.

However, it’s important to watch out for your own safety. Leave the room and go somewhere safe. If the fight becomes violent, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number and tell them what’s happening. If one of your parents is physically assaulted, that’s a crime, and the police take it very seriously. It’s also a crime if one parent threatens to seriously harm of kill the other parent.

Your community may have an emergency shelter for family members to go to be safe when family violence has happened. If so, you may be able to find the number at the very beginning of your phone book.

It’s also a good idea to talk to an adult you trust about helping you make a safety plan of things you can do to help keep your self safe when things get violent at home. This can include keeping a list of phone numbers you think you might need; having a safe place to go when things are violent; and knowing who you’d like to call in an emergency. A sample safety plan you could use to plan ahead can be found here. (PDF 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.