Sam's story

Topic Selected: Domestic Abuse

General Article icon Type: General Article

Sam, aged three and a half years, arrived at Refuge with his mum and three sisters. His mum met with the pre-school psychologist soon after their arrival and discussed her concerns about Sam and his fear of going to the toilet. Through talking with the psychologist it emerged that Sam also had difficulties sleeping and was very quiet and withdrawn. He had regressed to younger behaviours of wearing a nappy and wanting a bottle: he also displayed many symptoms of post-traumatic stress, including being very jumpy and having nightmares about violence.

When the family lived at home much of the violence occurred late at night. Sam would often get out of bed and stand at the top of the stairs to listen and see what was happening. He saw his father screaming, shouting, throwing objects, breaking furniture, as well as hitting his mother. Sam would stand there, frozen and shaking with fear, or sometimes crying and screaming. Not surprisingly, he continued to have sleep problems and wo

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