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Getting help

Supporting the young person in getting help

A meaningful and positive relationship with a young person may be the support and role modelling they need to learn what a safe, respectful and trusting relationship is like.

This can be a foundation for their understanding about healthy relationships, and by extension, healthy intimate relationships. This is especially true if the young person was or is hurt by domestic violence in their own family.

How to build a quality relationship

As with anyone, good relationships with young people are built on trust, respect and empathy. It can be frustrating and upsetting as a caseworker to see a young person you have been working with either using violence against a partner or being hurt by a partner.

Empathy is crucial in understanding a young person’s world. To assist a young person to get help, you need to have their trust. Try the following approaches:

  • Show them they’re important and that they are worth getting to know. Be curious about what they enjoy, what they like and the people who are important to them.
  • Understand their perspective and their values. You don’t have to agree with them but it is important you understand where they are coming from.
  • If a young man is using violence against a partner, remember that he has the skills to be non-violent and he has the capacity to change.
  • If a young woman is experiencing violence from a partner be prepared to listen. Many young people feel that adults don’t understand them or that they tell them what to do. You may need to do more listening than talking.
  • Young people have the right to participate in their case plans. Give them opportunities to speak up and make choices for themselves.
  • Do what you say you will do.
  • Expect that the young person has the capacity to change. When caring adults show young people they believe in them, they are more likely to believe in themselves and achieve better outcomes as a result.

Supporting a young person who is a victim

  • When working with a young person who is a victim of violence, let them know:
    • Violence is never their fault.
    • There are people who can help them to be safe from violence.
    • Everyone has the right to feel safe all of the time.
    • They are not alone — this happens to other people too.
    • Nothing is so bad they can’t talk about it with someone.

Supporting a young woman

Explore a young woman’s experiences of violence. The talking points in the previous sections can help you plan these conversations.

Consider appropriate referrals in partnership with the young woman:

  • Contact the local women’s resource centre or domestic violence service and ask if they have a youth-specific caseworker or know a good service working with young women and violence. Youth-specific services are best, but your area may not have youth services that have expertise in violence.
  • Find out if the school counsellor offers psycho-educational support about domestic and family violence.

Supporting a young person who is using violence

When working with a young person who is using violence make sure they know:

  • They can choose not to be violent.
  • They already have skills not to be violent – “I believe you can use these”.
  • Relationships need to be based on respect.
  • They can learn to be a different kind of partner.
  • There are people who can help them be a respectful partner.
  • You are here to help.

Explore how he is using violence and his beliefs about this. The talking points in the previous sections can help you plan these conversations.

Consider appropriate referrals in partnership with the young man:

  • Contact MensLine to find out about any appropriate programs for young men.
  • Find out if the school counsellor offers psycho-educational support about domestic and family violence.

Overcoming reluctance to get help

There are many reasons why a young person may not want to get help or feel that help is not available to them.

Some of the obstacles to seeking help include:

  • stigma and embarrassment
  • being unable to recognise that there is a problem
  • preference for self-reliance
  • confidentiality and trust
  • lack of available youth-friendly services
  • hopelessness

Research says that the following can help people seek help:

  • positive past experiences seeking help
  • social support and encouragement from others
  • emotional confidence

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