October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I hope our society will continue to grow in how we recognize and assist the persons affected as children or adults so they can give something better, SAFER, for their families.
‘Awareness’ is about;
- Acknowledgement; almost every person in our human society has either experienced some type of Family Harm or is dealing with this today. In America the Centers for Disease estimate that ‘1 in 4 homes’ are coping with some type of violence or abuse. Millions of children & families living in extreme, life threatening, harm or terror. If we look at this ‘human conditioning’ of tolerance as a disease; a human disease which we may have been taught as children to keep secret, we can see it encompasses our entire history. Most children are taught to protect, even respect, the person who is harming them or their family. It has been happening since the beginning of time. Unless we step in and teach our children a better, safer way of life; their kids are going to learn the very same types of behavioral harm and violence.
- We are supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet. However, it took us until Jan 2014 to finally enact amendments to Violence Against Women Act to provide services in aiding MALE victims. The amendments provided that ANY person, of ANY age or gender, ANY economic standing or place of residence, ANY ethnic origin or religious beliefs; there are no boundaries that divide an act of family harm or Domestic Violence, even trafficking/slavery of our partners and children; so now we have laws & services growing together to help make a difference in our worst ‘human condition’.
- Accept that we have a decade of studies by nationally recognized medical, psychological, behavioral, and reported acts that have been evaluated in every level to understand the lasting traumas and distorted behaviors; learned reactions as a result of having been someone’s victim. Our nation’s reports continue to climb and the depth of emotional trauma continues to be studied so that we develop the appropriate resources to help heal these wounds and rebuild to alter the ‘VICTIM’ state of learned behaviors.
- These offenses if beginning in the early years of a child’s life, even inside the womb, can and do cause an ingrained emotional alteration in our frontal lobe cortex. In young children you can see how living in this every day or week, month, year can affect every person differently. Some might become adult or teen offenders, others might stay in that trained sense of ‘VICTIM’ pattern and submissive behaviors. Either way these young persons grow up to become those who run our businesses, our police officers, judges, and political leaders of our nation. These are the people everywhere around us today, and we are creating the next generation of tomorrow.
- If you’ve ever lived with someone who has gone through these types of Family Related or Relationship Offenses, you know daily life can be challenging. Usually the result of a heightened anxiety, inability to level our stresses, which then results in emotional reactions that either bury the feeling of harm, triggers harmful behavioral outbursts or cause various types of self harming, even suicidal responses.
- Address these types of behaviors as if they are an illness within your family or circle of friends. The first way to begin combating this type of illness is to discuss the symptoms and provide a support system of knowledge, friendship, and resources to take care of this illness so that our loved ones know what it’s like to have a SAFE life and laugh without fear.
- We have pandemic measures of victims recorded for the past decade that prove 1 IN 3 AMERICAN CHILDREN (about 25Million) every year are trying to survive and understand what is happening inside their home or trusted circle. If we had any other type of DISEASE affecting this many children, (these are only the REPORTED cases); if these numbers were reflective of any other illness we would have rallies, legislation, and targeted specialists involving every small rural or urban community across the nation until we ended it’s plague. We would listen to every victim and develop continued working strategies to decrease those affected. We would ensure that somehow the message was connected across the country, courts providing justice, healthcare providing treatment, emotional support, and long-term behavioral life skills development so that new victims do not become tomorrows offenders. We would all talk together and work together because it would not be about how much money you can take in for helping, you would simply just have to help.
- Right now the annual estimated budget for providing prevention, intervention, and short-term recovery for these offenses is around $145Billion every year. Economically those harmed have trouble succeeding in a self productive manner to care for themselves and their families. If they are working with services, some of these CEO’S are bringing in 6 or 7 figure salaries but show few changes in how many victims they’re helping or how they’re changing the way they help them. Most are short-term recovery shelters to get you started, which give about 45 to 90 days. In this you have to get all your legal paperwork done, find a job, a place to live, apply for any state assistance, and figure out your own transportation. Have you done the ‘Walk in Her Shoes’ event anywhere? You definitely should so that you are fully aware of exactly what it’s like as a single young person in a homeless shelter or a mother of three trying to find somewhere to go and how to care for your kids.
- Services and rallies for adult males who have been harmed in childhood or in their adult relationships with either men or women; these guys still have very few resources as most shelters have been designed for women and children. They have little if any support and it is still an old traditional ‘hero’ thing if an older woman or girl teaches them about sex early in life; maybe an uncle or the neighbor they mow the lawn for once a week. We really don’t have true numbers of male victims because we’ve made it so difficult in what we teach them. Usually it’s about being a strong man; ‘Don’t you cry when you’re hurt boy, you get angry and you keep going’. It’s been this way forever and will be until every man, woman, and teen is involved in helping those in their circle learn about how to stop this mess and give the support, addiction recovery, and financial ability to live a better SAFER life.
I have taken my own past and use what I’ve experienced, along with Certifying Classes, to educate myself about how deeply wounding these acts can be and what little it takes from family and friends to actually make a difference in a person’s life. I try to share very personal and upfront knowledge about how detrimental these acts can become over a period of time; tragically thousands ending in homicide and millions ending in suicide. It is crucial to have just one supportive person in our lives who is willing to wipe our tears and help us help ourselves so that we become stronger as adults and parents.
Much like the 50 Million estimated Adult Survivors of Family Violence or Sexual Harm, my life has been a rollercoaster of disasters. Battling alcohol & marijuana addictions, depression, high anxiety, and constant panic. My adult relationships and marriages reflected the male dominant partner who committed emotional/physical/financial/sexual/life threatening acts which continued destruction and fear; control to the millisecond of my life. What I tolerated and lived with was based on the choices of what I knew as ‘normal’, which honestly was pretty violent and depraved. Sadly I lived in this until I was almost 40 years old. I became a young mother who believed that if the kids weren’t being directly harmed, then they were doing alright. However, how do you think they might have felt hiding in the closet in the middle of the night, waiting to see how badly their mother would be beaten, or would she even be able to come calm you down when the fight was over.
Would she live? Would you live? What if he got the gun out and was threatening everyone with it again? Who would you go talk to about what was happening? Would you be able to concentrate in school or get your homework done? What if both parents were drinking or using drugs, then either violence or sex began happening around you? How do you think our children would perceive life, what was expected of them, how to behave and how to treat others? What behaviors would develop in drugs, alcohol, violence, street gangs, sexual respect, or your emotional wellness? All of it would be altered until that person was in a circle of help that provided a SAFE ZONE, open discussion and support.
What you and I can do is to look at our family circle. Think about how you were raised; was it violent or amazing? Use what you know to begin making a difference today. If you have the same couple in your apartment building or neighborhood where you hear or see violent acts, the kids are screaming and crying; please call someone who can help intervene. If you’re a teacher, healthcare worker, law enforcement, minister or other community member; just take a few moments of gut knowledge and watch a child behave over time. See how many of the behavioral silent warning signs you know and how you remember behaving in what you’ve gone through yourself or seen in the numbers of victims and families you’ve helped. Communication & Community are crucial in helping change the future for our kids. If we don’t focus on the root of the problem at home, then we will never be able to change what is happening in our society. Sadly this ‘human conditioning’ will simply continue.
I hope something I’ve written will touch the heart of others around the country, as well as those areas closest to me. We can make a difference and I really hope that it begins right in this moment for you.
Patricia A McKnight
Breese, IL 62230
A child may try to avoid situations which place them alone with their abuser such as; not wanting to interact with a particular family member or friend; not wanting to hug or sit on their lap; not wanting to go places with them or where the abuser will be; remember to watch for signs of what your child IS NOT telling you. They may not know exactly how to verbalize their dislike, distrust, or what is happening to them. Pay attention to their actions and reactions around others
1) National Centers for Disease/Domestic Violence & Child abuse – http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/prevention.html
2) National Child Traumatic Stress Network http://www.nctsn.org/resources/audiences/parents-caregivers/understanding-child-traumatic-stress
3) National Post Traumatic Stress Alliance https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/treating-hidden-wounds-trauma-treatment-and-mental-health-recovery-victims-human-trafficking
4) National Alliance of Mental Illness http://www.nami.gov
5) Department of Health & Human Services; Domestic Violence & Children’s Bureau http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb
National Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
Safe Kids Now National Network
Founder: Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery