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‘I was scared’: A young girl’s struggle to feel safe at home

Mya hides in the corner of her home when the quarrelling starts. 

Her mother and father have been fighting every day for four years, since she was 10 years old. Sometimes her father would come home drunk and beat her mother.

“Their fights became pretty bad when I was in Grade 8,” Mya says. “When my Dad was drunk, he shouted at everything and everyone including me, even when I was studying.

“I was scared and couldn’t learn. I was so depressed.”

A member of ChildFund Myanmar’s child protection group, which has been established in Mya’s village, heard of Mya’s situation and referred her to Htet, a case officer with ChildFund’s local partner Future Light.

For the past three months, Htet has been helping Mya and her parents access counselling. As the sole income earner for his family, Mya’s father works odd jobs and has felt the immense stress to provide for his family and support his daughter’s education. The counselling sessions, however, have helped him understand his drinking problem and the impact it is having on his life and on his family. Since attending the counselling sessions he has significantly reduced his drinking, Mya says.

He no longer beats his wife. Mya says speaking to Htet and her counsellor have helped her relieve her emotional distress and understand that she is not alone in her situation. Mya has also learnt how important it is to continue focusing on her school studies so she can realise her dream of becoming a teacher.

ChildFund’s Myanmar’s child protection projects are supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Mya found it difficult to study when her father came home drunk and shouted at her. Speaking to a counsellor has helped her relieve her emotional distress and understand that she is not alone in her situation.

“I am not the only one who experiences this kind of problem; some are worse than mine,” Mya says. “After many conversations with Htet, I became more confident and I am less nervous.”

Htet says since ChildFund and Future Light began raising awareness on child protection issues such as domestic violence in Mya’s community, many cases like Mya’s have been brought to light.

“The most common cases in my assigned township are related to domestic violence,” Htet says. “We share that getting help is confidential and this has helped families to trust us and open up to us.”

Families are now confident about reporting any suspected cases of abuse and violence in their community.

Htet says there is still a long way to go for Mya and her family, but there have been noticeable improvements in their wellbeing since the counselling sessions.

Mya is encouraging other children and teenagers like herself who have witnessed or experienced violence in their family to share their feelings and seek professional help. “It will benefit you more than you think,” she says.

Family violence support services:
1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
Women’s Crisis Line 1800 811 811
Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491
Lifeline (24 hour crisis line) 131 114
Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

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