As a domestic violence victim advocate, I spend a lot of time talking about the effects of domestic violence on children.

Explaining to a survivor that children can end up repeating the cycle of abuse in their relationships if they do not get help is never an easy conversation. Coming out of domestic violence can be hard enough without hearing that your children could become abused or abusive. This is a subject I take very seriously. Victim advocates hope to work themselves out of a job one day by ending intimate partner violence. This will not happen without addressing the needs of survivors and children. They are our future without violence. They are the breakers of cycles and the bringers of change.
The most important thing to do for a child that has experienced the trauma of domestic violence is to listen to them. Talk with them about why abuse is never okay. Get them into counseling with someone so they have a safe place to share all of their feelings without the worry of protecting someone. Make sure they know that this is never their fault. Children sometimes think that if one of their parents is violent that it could mean they are violent or bad in some way. Ensure the child that they do not have to repeat this pattern of abuse. Teach those children healthy coping skills and how to have healthy relationships.
If you or someone you know have experienced domestic violence and have children at home, I encourage you to reach out to your local domestic violence program. There are advocates that can help you get through this difficult process and help you rebuild your life. So many survivors state that they stayed because they wanted their children to have a family, and they were scared that they would lose custody. They never stopped to realize that witnessing the violence at home was doing more damage than a divorce ever could.
I just finished a novel that struck a chord with me. A.S. King’s “Still Life with Tornado” follows the story of a 16 year old girl who finds herself in an existential crisis. Through wonderful character writing, King poetically explores the world of domestic violence through the eyes of a teenager. I encourage everyone who is interested to read this book. It is an eye opening account about domestic violence hiding in plain sight. King ends the book with a message of healing and hope; however, she explains that what is done can never be undone. “My scars will tell stories until the day I stop breathing.”
Crisis Services of North Alabama is a non-profit organization that provides services to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We have locations in Jackson, Madison, Morgan, and Limestone Counties. Crisis Services also has a HELPline available 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. We respond to families and individuals in crisis.
Crisis Services of North Alabama Jackson County office can be reached locally at 256-574-5826 or after hours at our HELPline at 256-716-1000. Advocates provide free, confidential crisis counseling, support groups, court advocacy, relocation assistance, and support. If you or someone you know is in need of these services please do not hesitate to reach out for more information. If you or your organization is interested in learning more about domestic violence and sexual assault we would love to come speak with you about services and how to get involved locally to help make change possible! Remember October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we would love to talk with you about how you can be a part of it!

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