Calling all early birds! Tomorrow, on Thursday, November 29th at 7:00am (yup, 7:00am) local Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor, Edwina Reyes, http://www.edwinareyes.com/ will be co-presenting with the Safe Start Center’s, Elena Cohen, on the issue of Domestic Violence & the Parent-Child Relationship sponsored by the absolutely awesome National Alliance to end Domestic Violence. http://www.jwi.org/Page.aspx?pid=374
The hour and a half webinar will focus on the effects of domestic violence on the relationship between a parent and a child and the outcomes of children exposed to violence. Edwina and Elena will also talk about how violence affects both the survivor and the perpetrator’s abilities to parent. To address these issues a trauma-informed care framework and relevant resources will be illustrated that can benefit both parents and children. For clinicians, CEUs are available for this webinar.
I would strongly encourage all who work with DV victim-survivors to join in on this webinar because it truly couldn’t be presented at a better time. The impact of domestic violence on children is more damaging then one might imagine and after leaving my own situation, I was simply floored at the long-term ramifications that lasted long after the last incident of witnessed abuse. Several times in the course of my recovery I was brought to tears when it was shown to me how all my attempts to shield my children from the abuse were completely ineffective.
Most popularly a victim believes if the children are asleep, in their rooms with their doors shut, watching a movie or TV with the volume all the way up that it somehow cancels out or drowns out the sound of the fighting; that they won’t hear the terrible things their mom is being called, they won’t see the rage, the fists or the tears and won’t feel the tension, hostility and fear that’s all contained within an act of DV. Whatever the aftermath the victim feels some form of assurance that at least the kids weren’t exposed to it, which is often the only source of solace and comfort that a victim can hold on to after a DV incident. To find out after the fact that all that safeguarding did nothing is simply devastating; you walked away thinking you succeeded at protecting them but learn the truth that you failed.
In my own case, I remember Su Atta from PACT’s Family Peace Center http://www.pacthawaii.org/oahu_peace_center.html talking to me about the effects of DV on small children. My kids were 3 and 5 years-old at the time. I went to Su with no illusions that my daughter and I were definitely damaged and traumatized by what we had been through but said with pride “…but at least I left in time to save one of us” referring to the youngest, my son. Su then pulled down a chart of some kind and began describing the effects of abuse on an unborn fetus and the impact of abuse on an infant’s development. I sat frozen in my chair as she described each and every detail of my son’s pregnancy, birth and first two years of life.
Poor Su – my lips started trembling, nose starting running, eyes filling with tears – I can just imagine what I must’ve looked like because I’ll never forget the look of alarm on her face as she went running for a tissue box. I can only describe it as crumbling. Before the chart came out, I was happy, secure and reassured that I had at least saved one of my children, but to learn that he was actually the most affected? It was like the image of my beautiful baby was melting down from my head and turning into crumbled pieces in my chest.
About half a year earlier, I had been talking with a pediatric gastroenterologist who had hospitalized my son for GI problems. She told me “We did the million dollar work-up and the only thing we haven’t ruled out is psychological problems”. Having no idea I was in an abusive situation at the time, I looked at her like she was nuts and said “Psychological problems?! What psychological problems could an 18 month-old possibly have?” Sitting with Su, I found out.
The road to healing was a long, drawn out and painful one, but I think it’s all paid off: my daughter’s happily in her freshman year of college while my “little boy” now towers over me; I cannot even fathom what any of us would’ve been and would be like had we not left when we did because even when we did, in terms of the impact on my kids, it was already too late.
To register for tomorrow morning’s webinar, click here: http://www.jwi.org/na?erid=2557249&trid=1dd1db4d-d291-4dea-917f-3d7ef8e595bd