Domestic violence has a profound and traumatic effect on children – and some bear the brunt themselves. Jane and her husband Mal were shocked to learn their grandchildren were being abused at home.
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‘I don’t want to go home.’
Those words haunt me. I still hear them as our two grandchildren left us to return to a house of abuse.
Our daughter Sarah married an alcoholic. After 10 years of physical abuse, the marriage ended. We didn’t know about the violence, as Sarah projected that everything was okay.
Soon after, David moved in. Our grandson Jack was 8 and granddaughter Sophie was 6. Thinking back, often when I rang Sarah the call was cut short because of screaming or crying. If Sarah wasn’t nearby, David attacked the children.
We arranged to pick them up from school weekly, helped with homework and stayed until Sarah finished work. Once David arrived home first, and Sophie asked, ‘Could you please stay a while?’. This was when we realised something was wrong.
It was a shock. Jack was repeatedly being hit and forced into his room. Sophie’s way of coping was to keep out of David’s way.
We told Sarah what the children said, how David was hitting them, using foul language, and frightening them. Sarah told David and things got worse for Jack and Sophie.
We started having them stay with us more often. Each time they left, the words ‘I don’t want to go home’ echoed in my head and I cried.
I took notes of what Jack and Sophie told us. David would say things like ‘tell anyone and I will rip your head off’ or ‘if I had my way I would throw you under a bus’. He has verbally abused Sarah, too.
Two years ago the school counsellor contacted us as our grandchildren were too frightened to go home. They stayed with us for eight months before deciding to return home.
Because the state department for child protection eventually became involved, David is now careful not to touch the children. But they are constantly harassed and reminded he wants them out of his life.
Our grandchildren are amazing young people, now 18 and 16. There is no sign of the anger, hatred and violence they have experienced. We try to fill their lives with love and encouragement. We pray for them every day. And, above all, we thank God for his guidance through this traumatic time.
The names have been changed but this is a true account by an LCA member.
Call 000 if anyone is in immediate danger.
1800RESPECT – family violence & sexual assault counselling 1800 737 732
Lifeline – crisis support for domestic abuse and family violence 131 114
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