Hope for domestic violence victims in a pandemic

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year.” – Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Violent Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence in Adults, 2003. This static rattles me every time I report it. It feels gripping and overwhelming. October is the month set aside to honor victims of domestic violence and seek solutions. I am publishing this now even though it is January. As the pandemic rages through the country domestic violence is on the rise. Study Finds Rise in Domestic Violence During COVID

This article will focus on the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence the children. Many women believe that they can live in a home where domestic violence is present and keep it from their children. They believe that since all of the fighting happens after the children go to bed that they do not hear it. This is false. It is one of the many lies women believe when they are living with domestic violence. It is part of the domestic violence package. It comes from being in survival mode that one believes this. Just know that your children know and move on from there. Your honesty to them validates their reality. If you act as if nothing is out of the ordinary it can make them feel crazy. Because they know what they are hearing is not normal, and they know they are in danger. Children will look to you for answers and if you are wearing a plastic smile it is pure trouble for them. Be honest with your children, they will reward you with love, hugs, and truth. Even if you can not change their reality immediately validate it. I do not believe one should stay in a home any longer than is possible where there is domestic violence and children are present. Domestic Shelters https://www.domesticshelters.org/  is a wonderful agency that offers help. They have a database of every shelter in North America. Type in your zip code and the list of shelters in your area immediately appears. If you are not ready to leave the abuser yet consider these tools to protect your children. Make a concerted effort to find neighbors on your street or nearby that you can call when the children need somewhere safe to go. This is not something that happens naturally all of the time. Parents have to create this and it takes time, it well worth the time. You know the cycle of abuse in your family and you will know when you can have extra children in your home. Secondly, reach out to your child’s teachers. You do not need to get specific unless you want to. Saying to the teacher something along the lines of, “There is a lot of extra stress in our home these days because of ________. I would appreciate it if you could keep an eye on my child and let me know if you think there is something I need to be concerned about. Children will share things with teachers that they won’t with parents. I head of a story where a woman was hiding the abuse from her children, she thought they did not know. Her daughter went to school crying one day and told the teacher that; “Her daddy was going to kill her mother with a gun.” Teachers are mandatory reporters this goes a long way when women are not able to report. School personnel will report for families. Educate your children about domestic violence read my children’s book Anger is OKAY NOT Violence is NOT to your children more than once. This book is available at your local public library or at: www.juliefederico.com I am trying to educate families, offer hope instead of violence and help the 15.5 million children who are without a voice. I am quietly ending domestic violence one book at a time by getting children to report violence. Fourth and this may be the most challenging recommendation find a support system for yourself. People that you can call in an emergency or just on days when you need support. Most of the domestic violence shelters have outpatient counseling. If you are not able to find a support network a counselor is a great starting place. You do not need to stay at the shelter to receive these services. Do not try to do this alone, it is a very lonely path even when others are with you. To be completely alone is a recipe to never leave. Because no one is there with you to tell you what normal behavior is anymore. As time goes on your level of accepting dangerous behavior increases. Lastly, take some time to decide what type of home you would like to create for your children. What does it feel like? What does it look like? This is within your reach maybe not today but definitely in the tomorrows to come. It is never too late to create a happy home. Children need safety to develop and reach their highest potential. There is no greater gift a parent can give than the gift of safety. It is possible to get to higher ground.

Additional material:

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverly Engel

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder

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