Pop quiz: Are you a kid? This is technically anyone under the age of 18, so yes, teens, even you are “kids.”
Second question: Do you feel safe at home? Do you know your home is a place where you can go for unconditional love and support, where even if your big brother teases you, you know he loves you? Or, do you sometimes feel unsettled, scared or anxious when it’s time to go home?
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Feeling unsafe means there’s someone in your home who makes you afraid. They might yell, scream or throw things when they’re angry. They might insult you and make you feel bad about yourself. Or, they could be completely absent—a parent or caregiver who isn’t there physically or emotionally, forcing you to take care of yourself, or who ignores you when you ask for help. This might be a person who threatens you with harm or does you harm, maybe by shoving, kicking, slapping or hitting you.
The main indicator of an unsafe home: When you walk through the front door, you feel fear—your palms are sweaty, your heart starts beating faster, your stomach hurts.
This type of home could mean that domestic violence is occurring. Domestic violence means there is a pattern of abusive behavior used to assert control and power over someone else—potentially over you or another parent or caregiver.
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Parents and caregivers can get upset once in a while. They may argue or even yell at each other. This is normal. But when this is constant, or directed at you, or there is violence involved, or the police have been called on one or more occasions, then this can be domestic violence.
Are These Statements True or False?
A quiz from The Hideout poses nine questions that can help you determine if there are warning signs for domestic violence in your home. For each of the following, answer Always, Sometimes or Never.
- My family has arguments and fights. Always Sometimes Never
- I feel safe and supported at home. Always Sometimes Never
- One person in my family hurts another.Always Sometimes Never
- I trust people in my family not to hurt me. Always Sometimes Never
- My family treats each other with respect. Always Sometimes Never
- Home is a place where I often feel scared. Always Sometimes Never
- Everyone in my family is cared for and made to feel important. Always Sometimes Never
- People call each other names which upsets me. Always Sometimes Never
- One person makes the other feel bad. Always Sometimes Never
Warning signs that domestic violence may be happening include:
- If you answered Always or Sometimes to questions 1, 3, 6, 8 and/or 9.
- If you answered Sometimes or Never to questions 2, 4, 5, and/or 7.
Even one warning sign could mean that you aren’t feeling safe at home.
What You Need to Know
Domestic violence is not your fault. You are not responsible for stopping it or preventing it. But here’s some things you can do.
If you’re scared to go home ….
Tell a trusted family member, teacher, friend’s parent or neighbor. Explain to them that someone at home is making you feel unsafe and you’re not sure what to do. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone in your life about this, you can call a local helpline (find one here) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 where you can speak to someone 24 hours a day. You don’t have to give your name or any personal details—you can simply talk to someone about what’s going on. You can also go to their website and access a chatting feature (click “Chat Now” in the upper right corner), if you’d rather not talk on the phone.
If someone is fighting in your house ….
Go to a safe place and call 911. This might mean hiding in a closet or running to a neighbor’s house. You do not need to break up the fight or protect a parent who might be getting hurt. This could put you in more danger.
If you’re considering running away ….
Talk to someone first. Running away might seem like the best option, but there’s a lot to think about if you leave home. Where will you go? What will you do for food, shelter and transportation? Is there someone else’s house, or a shelter, that would be a better option than living on the streets?
Consider reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline online or at 800-RUNAWAY to speak to someone about your options. They promise non-judgmental help and support, 24/7.
Feeling alone? You have support. Read author and Childhood Domestic Violence Association founder Brian F. Martin’s “Open Letter to Young People Growing Up With Domestic Violence.”
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