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Peace at Home

Importance of Having a Support System

When experiencing or recovering from domestic abuse, being able to talk to people you trust about your situation is invaluable. There are many benefits to having a support system, like reducing personal distress, gaining an outside perspective, receiving encouragement, increasing your ability to deal with stress, and even enhancing your mental health and self-esteem. Your support system can include whoever you trust to listen to and support you, and can offer genuine help or advice if you want it. This can include family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or professionals. You can also receive trained support from advocates or organizations focused on whatever your situation calls for.

There are also other ways you can find people to support you. Getting involved in social groups that meet regularly can connect you with others who are looking to form friendships, meet goals, or learn. This can take the form of fitness classes, crafting groups, book clubs, educational classes, volunteering, or support groups.

The purpose of having a support group is so that you don’t feel like you’re going through life alone. Receiving help can make a large difference in your life, and help can come in ways you wouldn’t expect. Even reaching out about something that seems unimportant can give you connections to resources that you wouldn’t have thought to ask about. Having people who care about you keeps you motivated and focused.

It’s never too late to start your own support group. It can begin as simply as picking up the phone and calling someone you trust- or even doing more research on how to get involved with others. You can contact Peace at Home if you have any questions about our services, or other local resources that may be able to help.



Peace at Home offers weekly support groups to survivors of domestic abuse. You can contact advocates at 479-442-9811 for more information. Groups are held in both English and Spanish.

Talking to Your Children About Domestic Violence

Children who are exposed to domestic violence can have a wide range of reactions. Even just being around any type of violence or abuse one time can leave an affect. The initial reactions of a child who has witnessed abuse is usually fear, confusion, and (depending on the age) self-blame. Children process experiences differently than adults, and often differently than how we would expect them to. It’s important to talk with your child about things that they might not fully understand, and to reassure them that they are not to blame for anyone else’s actions.

Other reactions that your child might exhibit can include:

  • Blaming others (for the abuse, or their own actions)
  • Acting out (physically, verbally)
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having trouble at school with peers or academics
  • Complaining of physical ailments/health issues (stomachaches, headaches, etc.)
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Avoiding people or activities

These are just a few ways that stress can be acted on. If your child begins acting differently than normal, that may be their way of processing what they have experienced.

Knowing how to start the conversation with your child about domestic abuse can be the hardest part. It’s important to know that you should take the lead in initiating the conversation- most likely, they are too scared or unsure to bring it up themselves. If you are not sure how you want to phrase what you should say, find someone you trust and talk with them about planning it out. Here are a few steps you can take in order to have a constructive conversation with your child:

  • Let them know that you care about them, and want to listen and support them.
  • Ask open-ended questions about what your child thinks happened, and how they felt about it.
  • Listen to what they say without interrupting or judging. You can help them identify some things that they might be feeling. (For example, “I can understand why this made you angry.”)
  • Tell them that what happened is not their fault.
  • Remind them that violence and abuse is not okay. Talk to them in a way that is appropriate for their age (for instance, saying “Sometimes people do bad things” is great for a young child, but a teenager will probably be expecting a more in-depth explanation).
  • Praise their efforts to communicate their thoughts and feelings. (For example, “I’m glad you are talking with me about this.”)
  • Be patient if your child has a hard time understanding, or doesn’t want to talk. You can have other conversations- just let them know that you care and are supporting them.
  • Stay calm, and ask for help if you ever need it. There are a lot of questions that one person may not have all the answers to.

A great way to encourage confidence in children is to talk through some things that they can do whenever they feel unsafe, anxious, or scared. There are lots of different types of safety plans, which can include going to a different place (like their room, or the neighbor’s house, etc.), calling someone you both can trust and feel comfortable talking to, participating in an activity like journaling or a sport, etc. Here are some things you can plan out together with your child:

  • Something they can do whenever they are reminded of violent or abusive experiences- “triggers” (loud noises, raised voices, or actions correlated to certain events). This can be listening to music, reading, or taking a walk.
  • Enrolling your child in a mentoring or out-of-school program where they feel safe, if they are comfortable with it.
  • Talk with them about where they want to do activities like homework, or what they want to read or participate in. Let them make decisions.
  • Encourage your child to talk to people that they feel comfortable with. They might choose to confide in close friends, or a trusted teacher, coach, or counselor.

Make sure that your child knows that they can trust you with their thoughts and feelings. Even if they want to have the more in-depth discussions with other people, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk about it ever again with you. Let them take their time in processing what they’ve experienced, and let them know that you will be there for them when they are ready.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Peace at Home can answer any of your questions, and direct you to local resources that can assist you as well.



You can find more specific information on talking with your child based on their age here.

What to Expect After Escaping Domestic Abuse

What a survivor experiences while in an abusive relationship does not go away as soon as the relationship has ended. While there may no longer be the threat of actual physical harm, the lasting effects from emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, and any other abuse that occurred can stay with a survivor for a long time. The amount of stress experienced while living with abuse takes time to fully understand and sort out. This may seem like a lot of work, but getting out of an unhealthy relationship is always worth it. There is not anything an abuser can give you that matters more than your health and safety.

The most basic steps to take after leaving an unhealthy relationships is to find a safe place to stay, cutting off contact (as completely as possible for your situation) with the abuser, and making sure you can support yourself and others that may be in your care. You will also want to surround yourself with people who care about helping you. Having a support system can look like many different things- your friends, family, joining a support group, getting a counselor or therapist, etc.- but they each can be incredibly helpful to you while you work through regaining your independence.

Do not blame yourself for any of the things that you experienced. Be kind to yourself and take time to do things that you enjoy, even if they seem unimportant or silly. Use positive language when thinking or talking about yourself, and remember that you are stronger than you may believe. When you’re ready, go out of your way to have new experiences and conversations with others. Healing will look a little different for everyone, so take your time and do not put unrealistic expectations on yourself. It’s normal for people who have experienced abuse to have certain drawbacks and hesitations about things that may seem very casual to others.

At the end of the day, you are in charge of the decisions you make. Being a survivor of domestic abuse does not have to define who you are. Do not be afraid to ask for help, talk about your experiences, or continue living your life. It may take some time before you feel completely safe or “normal”, but healing from any abuse is worth the effort. You can expect to live a happy, healthy life after leaving an abusive relationship.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Peace at Home’s Crisis Hotline at 479.442.9811. We offer several different services, and can refer you to local resources as well.

“What do I do if my friend needs help?”

Abuse or assault is not a fun thing- to go through, to talk about, or to deal with. It can be hard to know what the right or wrong thing to do or say is. If someone trusts you enough to share that they have been abused, you can help them in a lot of ways.

1. Listen to and believe them.

Sharing their story can sometimes be just as traumatic as the actual event, so if a survivor wants to talk about it, listen. Try not to ask a lot of questions, and let them know that you care about them.

2. Know abuse is never the victim’s fault.

Sometimes it can be easy to believe that something ‘set off’ or ‘caused’ the abuser to act. The only person responsible for the abuse is the person who abused. Let your friend know that they are not in the wrong, and deserve to be treated better.

3. Find local resources that offer help.

It can be hard to know where to start when dealing with a stressful situation. Reach out to organizations that can help in relation to the abuse. The Peace at Home Shelter offers transitional housing, legal representation, and support with finding employment and support groups. We also offer community referrals. Other organizations have many of these same resources. You can also suggest making something like a Family Safety Plan, which is easily tailored to fit whatever emergency that may occur.

4. Respect their decisions.

Many survivors do not want to report the assault or abuse, or tell anyone else about what occurred. They know their situation better than you do, so let them make the calls.

5. Continue to support and help them.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a survivor is be their friend. Being able to discuss what’s happening with someone can help release stress, clear up any confusion about the situation, and re-establish healthy connections. Do your best to genuinely be there, even after the situation is resolved.

If you have any questions about domestic abuse or assault, or need help, contact Peace at Home Shelter’s Crisis Hotline at 479-442-9811.

National Teen Dating and Violence Awareness Month

February is National Teen Dating and Violence Prevention and Awareness Month! While our primary focus here at The Peace at Home Shelter is empowering survivors of domestic violence, it’s important to know that relational abuse does not occur only between adults. In fact, it’s estimated that over 1.5 million high school students have experienced physical abuse in their relationships. The cycle of abuse is a learned behavior, and there is not any specific cap determining to or from whom, and where, it can happen.


(Graphic provided by BreaktheCycle, which has a lot of information on both domestic abuse and teen dating violence.)

Many signs of abuse in teenage relationships are similar to domestic abuse. A relationship may be unhealthy or abusive if a partner:

  • is extremely jealous/possessive
  • has an explosive temper or constant mood swings
  • uses technology/social media to stalk, threaten, or intimidate you
  • isolates you from family or friends
  • lies, ignores, or accuses you falsely of things
  • physically inflicts pain or threatens to hurt you
  • pressures you to to engage in activities you do not want to do

Any type of abuse is never caused by a survivor’s actions, despite how the abuser may defend themselves. If you or someone you know is at risk, there are many things you can do to get help.

  • talk with an adult you can trust about your relationship
  • end contact with the abuser/partner
  • block abuser on social media
  • change your phone number

Surviving and recovering from an abusive relationship takes intentional effort. Having the courage to get help and talk about it is the first step. A support system is very helpful for someone who has experienced dating violence or abuse. There are many resources available to help you navigate what can a scary, unsafe, and emotional situation. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about what teen dating violence can look like, check out Love Is Respect or the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

Peace at Home Family Shelter cannot provide shelter to unaccompanied minors. Please contact us at 479-442-9811 if you have any questions or are in need of help.