Domestic Violence ~ It is not just about that moment, it is the impact on our future.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. BDA invites you to our virtual town hall and vigil on Oct 28th, 6-8pm cst, via ZOOM. Watch our Facebook event page for more information and the link to join the conversation live!

Unfortunately, the year of 2020 is unlike any other; mandatory quarantines and job loss created a toxicity of stress factors much worse than what we have seen in the past century. This year our loved ones, neighbors, especially the kids are at a much higher risk than some can imagine.

Maybe you think it can’t be that bad. ‘Certainly the police or someone would be involved if there was any real problem.’

‘Sure they fight with each other; I’ve heard it go on for years’

‘Sure we get called to that house four or five times a year, maybe more’

‘Sure I’ve noticed some changes in this student; they seem distant, don’t finish their homework, their appearance and their behavior have changed. They seem easily agitated and act out in class.’

These are just some of the comments from family, neighbors, law enforcement, educators. All witnessing basic Warning Sings of some type of abuse or struggle in their life, but most of us aren’t really sure if we should get involved. As a child who grew up in constant fear, a woman, a mother, a wife who desperately walked on eggshells every day and was actually terrified of the one who said ‘I love you’; decades of my life were spent silently praying for someone to help me find a way out, not just for me, but more importantly to change the environment for my children.

Domestic Violence isn’t just about the direct violence in the relationship. It involves completely dominating your partner’s life. It’s verbal insults, accusations, and degradation. It’s threats of harm to other persons or perhaps the pets or employer, coworkers. It’s blaming and shaming victims to all others so the abuser can make themselves seem perfect. This is all a tactic to keep their victims in their control and ensure that neighbors, family, schools, and even law enforcement stay out of the ‘family business’.

Abusers and their victims may suffer from anger, depression, anxiety. They may react in outbursts of rage, punch walls, throw things around, make threats with weapons, suffer substance use problems, or their own long term mental illness or trauma related behaviors and triggers. Domestic Violence can lead to a destructive future and a learned tolerance of harm that just might become the only ‘normal’ our children learn. It leaves us vulnerable to other abusers. It causes kids to be lured into other dangerous or risk taking behaviors; internet meet ups, in appropriate pictures or interactions with online predators, perhaps they learn to use drugs, alcohol, cutting, and eating problems as a coping strategies to mask their true suffering.

We don’t have to feel helpless in these situations. There are more resources of help than ever before. There is rebuilding and support for recovery; there is education and training for professionals. There is always something we can do when we suspect possible harm or struggles. First we have to recognize changes and address them directly.

Family and friends; ‘As someone who cares about you, can I ask if things are okay? I’ve noticed a few things that make me a little concerned. Is there anything I can do or would you like to talk about things?’

Law enforcement, Children’s Services, Advocates; ‘What do the adults say about what’s happening? What do the children say? What did they see or hear in the heated moments? Has anyone made any threats, pulled a weapon, or caused direct harm? How long has this turmoil been happening?’ Maybe you will do an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) evaluation? Maybe you need to provide a Lethality Assessment? Either of these tools can be found on the internet and are quite useful to help give victims a proven perspective about what’s really happening and just how much they are minimizing the actual level of harm. I commonly use both of these assessments when I talk with victims of violence or sexual harm.

The ACE score represents their past, what types of fears and traumas they’ve experienced that might cause them to believe things really aren’t that bad.

The Lethality Assessment gives a real look into the relationship or the offender’s actions. Allows victims to see just how dangerous things really are and how they might be escalating. This assessment should always be provided in Domestic Violence, along with hotline numbers and local responding advocacy services.

Educators you play an important role in your student’s life. You see them day after day, so other than parents and siblings; you likely interact more with them than any other person. When you see a collective of changes in a student, you can help by first trying to build a closer circle of trust with that student. List your concerns; late or incomplete homework, changes in appearance, signs of neglect, anger, bullying, or shutting down, isolating themselves from friends or being constantly distant. You can take your list and ask other teachers who associate with the student if they’ve noticed any changes. You can team up on behalf of the student, take your concerns to school social workers and administration. If you submit a report to Children’s Services, please explain it to the student. Help the understand that it might be a little scary, but it’s important to get help so they and their families can get better.

Community members can help by being vigilant, especially for the children in your neighborhood. You might not see the children for days, but when you do something seems different about them. You hear fighting but no sure if someone is being hurt, you can always call for a well check and report what’s happening. Remember that only a very few will actually be privy to the abuse or witness an act of harm. What you see from a distance is just the outside layers of what is probably something much worse behind closed doors.

As we speak out across the nation for equality and safety, we as a society must choose to do the right thing when we suspect an abusive or violent situation. We must realize that in all the protests for our human rights, we cannot dismiss those who suffer in these types of environments. Domestic Violence changes all of those in the family, so in rebuilding and supporting to keep ‘Family First’ in tact, we will have to help victims feel safe today, but we will also have to help them reclaim their own identiy and rebuild their dreams for an independent sustainable and productively positive direction forward.

When we choose to do nothing. When we choose to tolerate the harm and ignore the suffering of others, this is when we give power to the generational trauma and harmful behaviors that have existed throughout human history. All things are possible and you really can make a difference, but we first have to be part of the equation!!

Thank you for reading. Please visit http://www.thehotline.org for resources and 24/7 crisis support across the country. You can find out more about Butterfly Dreams Alliance and the different topics we are here to help change by visiting our website; http://www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

Abuse and violence, sexual harm and human trafficking, are all power and control over another human being. You can give that person back at least some of their power, when you stand with them, acknoweldge them, ensure their rights to a safe home, while we help others heal from past trauma to be more positive parents for their children.

We all have the power to do something! You just might be the hero who changes the direction and helps heal the trauma, which will then create a new ripple effect of goodness for generations to come.

‘Trish’ McKnight

CEO; Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP

Advocate/Author/Survivor

Published by @ButterflyTrish

I am a survivor of over thirty years trapped inside the silence and brutality of Family Crimes, Child Sex Trafficking, and a life lived pattern of tolerance for over 30 years in almost murderous relationships. In Feb. 2011 I chose to publish the truth about what happened in our home, the community around me, and the learned patterns of self-hatred and tolerance which became such a huge factor in my life. My life today was built through publishing 'My Justice'. I never would felt worthy of life, breathing, love & respect with first healing myself. There were many things the traits and tragedies that influenced my life seemed to control everything inside me and it was nothing but sadness and fake emotions. Only by facing the horrors I went through, the choices I made as a woman & mother, then relating to the greatest guilt I have; how the trauma behavior has affected my children's lives. It's my hope to help others get through their battles, regardless of the type of trauma because when we hurt our lives are forever changed. This graphic, violent memoir is NOT SUGGESTED FOR ANYONE UNDER 14 years of age. It discusses the permanently wounding life and the cycle of destruction that held me in expecting/tolerating ridicule and violence in my adult relationships. This truth was published to inspire others to take an in-depth look at their life and behaviors as a result of their past. Connect the dots of your rebuilding in understanding the pattern of adult choices in coping addictions, parenting, and partners; even affecting our careers and self-sustainable life. I'm so honored to have 'My Justice' used at the collegiate level for psychology classes, upcoming therapists and educators. Today my life is very blessed. I'm finally safe, finally truly loved, finally feeling the magic of what life is supposed to be like. My greatest power only began to show when I first made the choice to end the violent relationships and behaviors around my children; to give them something better, something SAFE!! In choosing to share my own story, I've also gone that serious extra step to educate myself through years of research, attending training opportunity, and collaborating with other advocate resources, abuse, sexual harm, and the experts digging deep to recreate help and healing. I've chosen to use my past as a way to inspire a greater good; hopefully somehow change the cycle of tragedy in our homes so that we empower our kids to live a more positive path. The best education we can give, is a survivor of traumatic experiences who can use what they felt then and what they wish they would have had available; those who could have and should have said something. We can change things for our life today, but best of all in healing our wounds, we give communities a supportive working strategy in assisting the people in our lives. One step at a time, one caring soul at a time, we can give them a path to changing our human society as a whole. This is a tell all, which was written in the midst of my third nervous breakdown as I struggled to put all my distorted pieces back together, help my children understand how the violence I tolerated against me invaded their emotional well-being. My children have always been my world, but my behaviors, lack of healthy parenting and life skills, and an inability to remain stable has caused another generation of suffering for my grandchildren. This is a very difficult thing to watch and the continued tragedies that seem to keep affecting the choices in my family. Writing this book was only the beginning of trying to release all that has haunted me for so many years. I have finally removed his thick, cruel, coal stained hand which trapped me in fear for decades. Those hands and his evil, her housemaid and caregiver; they created a slave and that slave submitted to horrific and brutal attacks but always felt it was her burden to bare. I lived with that hand holding me down to terrorize and steal away my voice, holding me captive in the dysfunction of the aftermath and casting a shadow of darkness on everything good in my life. Living in the true spirit of freedom, I have now become a strong advocate against the life cycle of human destruction. We cannot live stuck in the tragedy of hardships and pain. Life is meant to be lived, to be enjoyed, to see what you can do and what you can achieve, to find out what is important to you. We all become adults. We all have a burden to bare. Stand up and keep moving, keep living, keep dreaming. You have two choices in recreating and rebuilding yourself. Do you stay stuck in the dark shadows of your past? Do you dig deep and find that spirit that kept you alive so that you could become the proud, strong, capable, resilient, kind human being ? Which do you choose and how will that choice affect your children and theirs? We can be supportive, provide resources and suggestions for help so that families suffering with addiction or past trauma themselves can find a recovery balance to rebuild their family in a more positive life pattern. We will recover, we will rebuild, we will conquer the pains of yesterday to live in the true sense of life, freedom and safety today. Patricia 'Trish' McKnight Author: 'My Justice' Fndr/CEO: Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP Mentor/Advocate/Speaker/Survivor

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