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Helping Young NH Victims of Domestic Violence

November 12, 2007

Nashua, NH – Children frequently witness acts of domestic violence against a parent. If they don't get help dealing with the experience, advocates say it can set them on the path to becoming abusers in adulthood. Thanks to a major grant, domestic violence agencies in New Hampshire will launch a new program to identify and establish "best practices" for helping children in these tough situations.

The two-year project is being funded by the Endowment for Health. Its goal is to break that chain of violence. Dawn Reams is the executive director of Bridges Domestic and Sexual Violence Support, in Nashua.

"Women and men coming to us who have experienced domestic violence bring their children along with them. For a long time, their mental health needs were not addressed."

Reams says children often are aware of violence in the home, even if their parents don't realize it.

"People say things like, 'They were under the bed, they didn't hear anything,' or, 'They were upstairs.' I think that in order to break the cycle of violence, addressing it young is really critical."

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence will use the grant money to develop guidelines for caring for children caught up in family violence. Coalition executive director Grace Mattern says the additional services will be a big help to the children, as well as their parents who are victims of abuse. Last year, coalition member agencies served more than 400 children who had been exposed to battering in their homes.

John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NH