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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 11:18 GMT
Girl's fear of violence at home
By Selma Chalabi
BBC Wales New Media

Domestic violence (generic)
A charity says 49% of children in refuges have witnessed violence
Imagine a childhood where you constantly live in fear of your father hitting your mother.

You might lie on your bed hiding your head under the pillow, pretending you can't hear the violence taking place.

You eventually walk downstairs and see your father beating your mother and are screamed at to get back to your room.

For one Welsh schoolgirl, who talked about her experiences as part of a BBC Wales project on domestic abuse, this was harsh reality.

The girl, who is now 13 and doesn't want to be identified, said: "That's the only time he would hit her was when we were upstairs.

"As soon as we came down, he'd still be hitting her, but he'd scream at us to get back upstairs.

CHILDREN AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
1,001 children and young people accommodated in refuges
49% of children in a refuge witnessed domestic violence
10% of children in a refuge on at risk register
41% of children in a refuge had been abused themselves
Statistics for Wales, 2006-2007. Source: Welsh Women's Aid

"I used to go to my bed because that's where I felt safe.

"When I was in my bed snuggled under the blanket with my head under the pillow, I couldn't hear any of it, hiding away from it all really."

She said her mother eventually decided to leave her father after one particularly horrific attack with a knife.

"All you could hear downstairs was my mum choking because her tongue was swollen.

"I ran downstairs, and you could just see my dad with the knife in his hand with blood on it. He could have killed her.

"She said enough was enough and she left him."

Cheryl Martin of the charity Welsh Women's Aid said she hoped BBC Wales's "In The Frame" internet project, where domestic abuse victims recorded themselves talking about their experiences, helped offer people an insight into the problem.

Flashbacks

She said: "Children and young people feel ashamed and very guilty about what is happening at home.

"We hope that this young girl talking about her experiences will encourage other children to talk to someone if they are experiencing domestic abuse at home."

The teenager's mother got in touch with Welsh Women's Aid, which helps families that have suffered domestic abuse, and the charity helped the family rebuild their lives.

She said: "I have load of flashbacks about what used to happen. It wasn't very nice, but it's all over now.

"That's what I'm glad about really. It's better really, life is for me now.

"I hope I have a nice family, a good career. Basically what everyone hopes for, peace in their life."

  • The Wales domestic abuse helpline is 0808 80 10 800.


    SEE ALSO
    Evening 'classes' for violent men
    28 Sep 07 |  North East Wales
    Abuse patrols during rugby games
    09 Sep 07 |  South East Wales
    Advocate to advise abuse victims
    04 Apr 07 |  North East Wales

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