The Children Who Witness Abuse Program (CWWA) is open to children and youth 3 – 18 years and their non-offending parent/caregiver. The CWWA program provides short term education, information and supportive counselling on an individual and group basis to children and youth who have witnessed or experienced abuse. Children must be living in a safe environment away from the abusive person. Clients are provided with education and information regarding abuse, personal rights and responsibilities and parenting issues. A parallel program for parents or caregivers is available. It may include supportive counselling, parental education and/or group counselling. The services are provided to women and their children living the Langley, Fort Langley, Aldergrove and Cloverdale areas.
How Family Conflict Affects Children
Children who witness abuse of a parent or caregiver live in fear and anxiety for the next violent episode to occur. As a result of being exposed to family violence and/or conflict, some children will show overt signs such as aggression and/or depression. Other children may display less obvious signs; these children may have adjustment difficulties such as inappropriate attitudes about violence and/or problem solving skills. Regardless of the signs children show, they can benefit from the Children Who Witness Abuse Program.
Goals of the Program
- To end the inter-generational cycle of abuse.
- To dispel common myths surrounding family violence and marital abuse.
- To provide a non-threatening environment to talk about feelings and help teach healthy ways to express anger, fear, etc.
- To let children and youth know that they are not alone and help them share their thoughts and feelings.
- To define abuse (physical, emotional, verbal and sexual) and to let children and youth know their personal rights.
- To teach problem-solving and coping skills.
- To identify the causes and effects of conflict.
What you can do if your child has witnessed abuse
- REAFFIRM your unconditional love for your child. A big fear is that their behaviour will cause you to leave or divorce them.
- REASSURE them that together WE will manage all the changes.
- REDEFINE the word ‘family’.
- ALLOW your child to express a range of feelings in a healthy manner.
- HELP them to understand that they are not alone, and that others have handled similar situations successfully.
- REASSURE them that they are not responsible for the abuse.
- REASSURE your child that you don’t expect them to look after you.
- REMEMBER that while your child’s anger may be directed at you – it is often about other things.
- CREATE a discipline method that is respectful and leaves everybody’s dignity intact.
- REMEMBER your child is not the abuser. Do not tell them that they are ‘just like the abuser’.
When Violence does happen
If you or a child or youth you know is living with violence there are agencies that can help.
Help line for Children 604-310-1234
- Various groups are held throughout the year to help Children; summer camps and homework groups are available.
For more information on this program please contact:
Rena, Children Who Witness Abuse Program Coordinator
Contact CWWA Program 604-534-1011 ext 234, or ext 235
CWWA programs can be found throughout British Columbia. The program is developed and coordinated by the BC/Yukon Society of Transition Houses. CWWA is a program offered by Ishtar Transition Housing Society.
Funded by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.