often interrogate children about their mother, including trying
to get information about her new address, phone number, place
of work, new boyfriend, or source of support. Moms may help
their children respond to such interrogations by helping them
prepare answers in advance.
- Information about how to respond if dad asks about
Ex: “Please don’t ask me about mom. It’s
uncomfortable for me.”
- Information about the impact of drugs or alcohol
on their dad so that they have coping strategies for when
he is intoxicated.
Ex: Tell the child, “When dad is drinking a lot, he
may start slurring his speech, walking unsteadily, etc. He
may not be able to take care of you. You can call Grandma and
ask her to take you to her house”.
- A plan for calling you or another family member
who can help. They should know how to use the phone, how
to make a long distance or credit card call, and how to
ask an operator for help in making a call.
- Understanding that they may feel torn between
loyalty to you and loyalty to their dad.
- How to call 911 and what to say.
- If you have two or more children, you can talk
to them about ways they can help to protect each other.
Source: Helping Children Who Witness Domestic Violence:
A guide for parents. Instructor’s manual. By Meg Crager
and Lily Anderson. Funded by the King County Women’s
For more information call 800.838.8238 or email Hotline@vsdvalliance.org. E-mail is not a secure form of communication. To ensure confidentiality please call the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.838.8238 (V/TTY).