Ruba* and her children's story of experiencing domestic abuse

I remember my son Shiya*, who is three, being in my arms as his father hit me. He’s so young that I didn’t think he would be impacted by what he saw. I was wrong.

When I entered Hestia’s refuge earlier this year with Shiya and my daughter Masira*, (two) they had trouble settling.

Shiya was incredibly shy around everyone. He wouldn’t talk to anyone, but he also wasn’t listening to anything I told him to do, his behaviour became erratic.

Masira used to be a bubbly toddler, but after our the last few months she became so quiet and didn’t want to play or even cuddle me. Parenting them alone and in this new environment, with everything that we’ve been through, has been more challenging than I ever would have thought.

We’ve lived in the refuge for a few months now, and things have improved slightly. Shiya and Masira are both at nursery together a few times a week and their confidence is growing, but I still see an uncomfortable change in them as children.

While at nursery, they only talk to each other and about the abuse we have experienced. I’m worried about how much it’s affected them.

I’m working with one of Hestia’s Children & Family Workers on managing their behaviour, but I know they need more support.

I’ve been considering play therapy as a means of encouraging them to open up and talk about their experience in a healthy and natural way. I’m hoping we can get access to a counselling soon, but I’m worried that while we’re waiting, things might get worse.

*Names have been changed to protect their identities

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