Our Family Secret is a Shared Pain

The struggle of surviving domestic violence and raising my kids

FACT: 4 in 10 people will experience intimate partner violence in their lives.

FACT: 90% of children in families with domestic violence are eyewitnesses to the abuse.

FACT: The long-lasting effects of domestic violence pump through my veins – and my children’s.

A recent study by the University of Limerick, Ireland has found that children exposed to the parental domestic violence have a higher rate of anxiety, social isolation and depression. But children who witnessed only psychological abuse of a parent – like name-calling, yelling, coercion, intimation and isolation – had significantly higher rates of negative side effects in early adulthood than children who witness both psychological AND physical abuse.

This seems counterintuitive to everything I thought I knew about my lived experience. Or maybe I just always wanted to believe that the opposite was true - because my domestic abuse didn’t leave visible scars, that meant maybe my kids would also get away unscathed. Science tells me this isn’t going to be the case.

I have triggers.

Doors opening unexpectedly or slamming loudly, a car that looks too familiar in a parking lot, seeing a can of Grizzley chewing tobacco. Does this mean my sons have triggers too?

Do they know the reason they’ve slept with white noise machine their whole lives was to drowned out the sounds of late-night arguments?

Do they know that mom has counted every single day she hasn’t had a blow-for-blow screaming match or passed out in exhaustion from a night of violent crying? It’s 651.

Do they count those days too?

I will need to work even harder to ensure that my sons get as much help and support as I do because we are ALL survivors of domestic violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to empower victims and survivors to find safety and live free of abuse. Resources and help can be found by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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