noun; defined as “violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.”
Every 9 seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States. Domestic Violence (DV) is at epidemic levels across the country… and it doesn’t just happen “in someone else’s family.” This closed-door killer leaves permanent scars on the children and parents who find themselves victims of abuse at the hands of people with whom they *should* feel most safe… their parents, spouses or partners.
As a child forensic interviewer, I’ve talked with many children involved in cases of alleged child abuse or neglect. There are some cases, though, that simply haunt me… one such case involved DV where several children were alleged to have witnessed their mom raped and nearly killed at the hands of her boyfriend. That image is no doubt burned into the minds and hearts of those children for the rest of their lives. Mom survived, but didn’t press charges and stayed with her abuser. In fact, it’s my personal belief that she coached the children to say nothing about the awful events to which they had a front row seat. Scared for their mom and frightened for themselves, each remained silent. To this day, I have no idea where they are and worry about the safety of those kids…
Nearly 1 in 4 women will experience DV at some point in her life. Those figures may be low, though, as most incidents of DV remain behind closed doors and are never reported. Studies suggest that each year up to 10 million children witness DV. Often, children will try to intervene if violence is severe, placing them at greater risk for injury or harm. Frighteningly, each day nearly 3 women and 1 man fall victim to homicide, murdered by a current or former spouse or partner.
It is estimated that DV costs over $37 billion annually in law enforcement work, legal support, medical and psychological expenses for victims, and lost productivity at companies where victims can not work due to injuries sustained from DV. DV victims are mostly female, but can be male, and are often isolated from family and friends by their abusers, making it more difficult for them to seek assistance or refuge.
Sadly, it’s the children who get caught in the fray as they often witness these violent acts, 60% of which take place in their homes. Nearly half of the men who frequently assault their wives also abuse their children. Without intervention or help, girls who witness DV become victims themselves and are more likely to experience personal violence as teens or adults. Boys who witness DV and are not helped often grow into abusers, thus continuing the cycle of DV in future generations. The poem, “Children Learn What They Live” is sadly all-too true in DV cases.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Believe it or not, nearly 75% of us know someone who has experienced DV. Please help spread awareness of this all too common problem by sharing this and other DV information you come across this month (and beyond!). Find a domestic violence or women’s shelter in your area and volunteer or make a donation. Your simple act of kindness can really make a difference to children and their parents who find themselves caught in the horrific cycle of domestic violence and abuse.
*NOTE: Stories used in this and other gingerkadlec.com blog postings are based on actual cases, but details and names have been altered to protect victim and family privacy and identity.
Working to improve the world one child at a time, Ginger has made it her life mission to raise awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger can be contacted via her website “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids™” at gingerkadlec.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/gingergkadlec.
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