For a child, it would be frightening and upsetting to live with behaviour like this for a day, but 12-year-old Alice* faced alcohol-fueled violence and abuse every day. She felt both unsafe and unloved.
Alice called Kids Helpline because there was nobody else she trusted.
“Hi, can I help?”
The warm and gentle voice she heard on the other end of the phone line belonged Claire*.
During that first call, Claire understood that Alice was only beginning to reveal what was happening in her life, and so she arranged to talk to her again.
Claire became the one person Alice could confide in.
“Children like Alice don’t instantly open up,” says Claire. “Their trust in adults has been shattered too many times before, but you just give them a little time and space, show them some respect and care, and they begin to tell you things. Not necessarily directly. You have to listen with great care.”
As Alice talked, it became clear to Claire that she blamed herself for what was happening at home.
“A lot of children don’t want to tell anyone that they’re being abused, emotionally or physically, because they know it will affect their whole family,” explains Claire. “They ask, ‘Will I have to go and live somewhere else?’”
Alice didn’t want to get her mother into trouble, so instead she endured the abuse - for years.
Claire helped Alice build a network of support.
For a start, Alice could always call Kids Helpline at any time of the day or night if she felt unsafe.
She’d been reluctant to approach her school counsellor. But Claire helped Alice talk through what she wanted to say and this led to her receiving more support at school.
As her life became more stable, gradually the calls from Alice tailed off.
Her problems hadn’t disappeared, but Alice was safer. Mum was still an alcoholic but Alice was able to cope. She wasn’t self-harming or having suicidal thoughts any more.