Commentary Search

April raises awareness of domestic violence, child abuse

By Russell Cook, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager 2nd Medical Group

Child abuse and domestic violence are connected in a number of critical ways that have severe consequences for the safety of children. But with effective intercession and corresponding reactions to child abuse and domestic violence, Domestic Violence advocates, child protective workers, judges, school personnel and community members can help keep families safer and break the cycle of violence. In an effort to break the cycle and bring awareness, April is designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

There are many types of abuse that a child may have to endure. However, living in a home where Domestic Violence occurs between the parents, the child's risk of abuse is heightened. Sometimes a violent parent will intentionally injure children in an attempt to intimidate and control their adult partners.

These assaults can include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of the children. Living within violent homes may leave lasting emotional scars.

Domestic violence is the single most precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in the United States. In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children (US Advisory Council on Child Abuse and Neglect) (Family Violence Prevention Fund).

Even when child witnesses do not suffer physical injury, the emotional consequences of viewing or hearing violent acts are severe and long-lasting. In fact, children who witness violence often experience many of the same symptoms and lasting effects as children who are victims of violence themselves, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Children who are exposed to domestic violence experience feelings of terror, isolation, guilt, helplessness, and grief. Many children exhibit psychosomatic complaints such as headaches, stomach problems, and other medical problems. Children can experience problems with depression, anxiety, embarrassment, and, if exposed to violence for an extended period of time, ambivalence.

Children act out what they see and their demonstration of violent behavior can be a manifestation of their exposure to domestic violence (The Silent Victims of Domestic Violence).

Often the voice of the children is rarely spoken and heard even less. Their wounds run from the inside out and they need to be healed. Knowledge and communication are the foundation to breaking the vicious cycle overwhelming our children.

When children are raised by loving, caring parents, share an extended family and grandparents, and have opportunities to learn from others in the community - they have the best childhood has to offer.

For more information on signs to look for and what you can do to help victims of domestic violence and child abuse, call the Family Advocacy clinic at 456-6595 or National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Not only is April Child Abuse Prevention Month, but it is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator team is also doing their part to raise sexual assault awareness in the community.
The SARC team will have a booth at the Exchange here every Tuesday in April from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and self-defense classes at the Bell Fitness Center April 26 and 27 among other events. The SARC team can be reached at 456-6836 or their hotline at 456-7272.