EDITORIAL: Research is big step in right direction

Children are often the silent victims of family violence. These young and vulnerable people are often witnesses to unimaginable horror, often inflicted by the ones who should be protecting them.

They are also often the victims of this family violence.

So new information which raises awareness about how family violence – in particular domestic homicide – affects children, is welcomed news.

Children who lose a parent to domestic violence are often more psychologically damaged than previously thought, new research has found.

The research, released on Thursday, found most children are in the same building as their parents at the time of the murder, and many have themselves experienced undocumented domestic violence. The Monash University Accident Research Centre hopes the research, which used data from the Netherlands, can be used to raise awareness of the need to support children affected by domestic homicide in Australia.

For these children, witnessing something so horrific as the murder of a parent, is something that may never leave their psyche.

These children are young and feel helpless. They may sometimes feel somehow responsible for not being able to render assistance to the person being attacked. This is a heartbreaking realisation for many children who live with family violence.

These are young children who should be playing with their dolls or trucks, going to the movies with their friends, doing their homework at night. They shouldn’t be exposed to such horrors. But if they are, this latest research will go a long way to helping these children.

This support may never heal these young people of their heartache, but it will go a long way to helping them realise that support is available to them.

It may go a long way to giving back some of the power they may have lost at the time of the lives when they felt powerless.

This new research will also give authorities, experts in the family violence field, even teachers and health professionals, added tools to go a long way to understanding what these children are – and will probably continue – to go through.

Any step in helping children cope with the mental anguish of family violence is surely a big step in the right direction.

  • Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.