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Domestic Violence

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.

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.

Santa Sack is Coming Up Soon!

It's time to start planning Peace at Home's annual Santa Sack holiday event!

Santa Sack is an opportunity to support women and children (and also men and their children) who have successfully left abusive living arrangements.  These families often struggle financially and the parents worry that their children will not have a Christmas because they simply cannot afford to buy presents.

Members of the community make Christmas a reality by donating new toys for the children and new gift items for the adults.  On the day of Santa Sack, moms (or dads) pick out gifts for their children and the children pick out gifts for them.  It is a festive event for volunteers, staff and especially the families we serve.

Santa Sack is a fun-filled day where families get to pick out gifts, take Christmas pictures, and enjoy holiday activities! We need volunteers and donors to help make the event a success!

We hope you will be able to help us.  We need donations of new toys, gifts, wrapping paper, tape, and gift cards.  We also need volunteers to help set up tables, assist individuals picking out gifts, and wrap the gifts.  Enclosed with this letter is a list of gift ideas that would be appropriate for Santa Sack.

Santa Sack 2018 will be held on Friday, December 14, 2018.  Clients will be invited to come between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. We will set up the gift tables on Thursday, December 13 between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.  All gift donations should be received by noon on Thursday, December 13. Volunteers will be needed from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday and from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday.

If you are interested in helping us share Christmas with the families we serve, please contact Jean Kebis at 479 717-6417 or jkebis@peaceathomeshelter.com.

We hope you will be part of this fun and joyful holiday event!

“If you try to leave me, I’ll…” Threats in Domestic Violence

Often times, abusers will use threats to keep a victim of domestic violence from trying to leave the relationship.

Common threats that survivors have told us they have heard from their abusive partners include threats to  –

  • Abduct the children or seek sole custody
  • Get the victim fired from their workplace
  • Have the victim deported or destroy their immigration documents
  • Harm the family pet
  • Destroy any property or possessions left behind
  • “Out” the victim to coworkers or family members 
  • Commit suicide or other self-harm
  • Become more physically violent or kill the victim

It is important to remember that no one deserves to be or enjoys being abused and that leaving a violent relationship is the most dangerous time for the victim. Abusers often feel very much out of control at this point and tend to retaliate and become more violent as a result. Statistically, this time is the most dangerous for victims:

75% of women who are killed as the result of a violent relationship are killed after the relationship has ended.

The fear felt by many victims of domestic violence is why emergency shelter like Peace at Home Family Shelter is so crucial.

If your partner is threatening you to keep you in the relationship, we can help.

Find a safe phone and contact us at 479-442-9811 and remember to always call 911 if there is an emergency or you feel your life is in danger.

Domestic Violence and Housing – Your Rights

In Arkansas, a landlord cannot:

  • refuse to enter into a rental agreement,
  • terminate a lease,
  • fail to renew a lease, or
  • evict a tenant

if their decision is based solely on the fact that the tenant has been a victim of domestic violence.

In addition to anti-discrimination laws, Arkansas rental laws provide the following protections for tenants who are survivors of domestic abuse:

  • Changing Locks

Tenants who have been victims of domestic violence are entitled to have their locks changed, at their expense, as long as they notify the landlord and provide them with a new key.

  • Damages

Landlords can seek damages from the abuser caused by an incident of domestic abuse and for any unpaid rent owed by the abuser.

  • Law Enforcement

Landlords cannot prohibit or penalize tenants for calling the police or emergency services in a domestic violence situation.

  • Court Order

If the court orders the abuser to stay away from a victim, and the abuser lives in the same house as the victim, the landlord can evict the abuser or forbid them from coming into the home.

If you are a domestic violence survivor and you are facing a housing issue, you do not have to go through the process alone. Peace at Home’s legal department can help you find legal representation, accompany you to the court hearing, and help you develop a safety plan. Call 479.442.9811 to speak with an advocate about legal services.