“You are such an idiot, I hate you!” my youngest spat angrily.
“Shut up, you jerk!” my son snapped in response.
Often, I find myself as the mediator to some showdown of verbal firepower between my three children. We try to focus on using kind words and not saying things that would hurt someone’s feelings. However, it’s as if the behavior is instilled in them and will be repeated no matter how hard I try to correct it. As a child, I remember bickering with my sister and at times raising our voices, but never with the amount of anger as my children display. Their behavior is most likely the effect of being exposed to the verbally abusive relationship that we recently left. Although I did my best to hide it from them, to keep them from hearing the profanities that most likely reverberated through the entirety of our house, they were exposed. Studies show that 90 percent of children in homes where there is domestic violence, know it is going on.
They are tiny sponges, absorbing everything around them, constantly learning through observation.
Domestic violence is a learned behavior. So for it to continue generation after generation, these abusers are exposed to it as children. They may grow up watching their father beat their mother, or vice versa. According to Safe Horizon, recent studies suggest that more than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year. The effect of witnessing parents verbally and physically abusing one another can be detrimental to the mental health and overall well-being of the children exposed. As mentioned in our post, Gang for Justice, these children are more likely to become abusive as adults or end up as victims of abuse. Thus it continues through the generations. Children that are exposed to domestic violence can also incur other adverse effects as adults, such as homelessness, poverty, depression, drug abuse, and poor physical and mental health. Giving children the best chance for success is one of the many reasons why we need to bring awareness to the impact of ALL types of domestic violence.
There is an unspoken pressure on us, in this Game of Life, to have a picture-perfect family with picture-perfect portraits plastered all over social media. I believe this is why most people stay in abusive relationships for so long. In most social circles, divorcing is greatly frowned upon, especially if there is no evidence that anything is wrong in the relationship. For the longest time, I was persuaded that divorce would have a terrible impact on my children, depriving them of an unbroken home. When in actuality, it was already broken. It is significantly more disastrous to their general health than divorce. Children need the stability of healthy relationships in order to thrive and become responsible and caring adults. Granted, there are some that overcome their circumstances, growing into the most incredible individuals you could ever meet. But it is rare, and they still must beat all odds, conquering obstacles that no child should ever face.
We try to focus on using kind words and not saying things that would hurt someone’s feelings.
Be wary of how a child interacts with siblings and peers. If they are constantly putting down their siblings, or refuse to accept responsibility for their own bad behavior, these indicate abusive tendencies. It is not too late to correct these behaviors. We can teach them compassion, love, and the appropriate way to treat others, but we first have to remove them from lifestyles that are abusive. I found that the most helpful outlet for my kids after the divorce was family counseling. They received a little one-on-one time with a licensed family therapist, allowing them an objective person to discuss all of their fears, feelings, and pains. Therapists can help them understand why decisions had to be made and help them understand their feelings about those decisions.
Parents set the foundation of the future for their children. They are tiny sponges, absorbing everything around them, constantly learning through observation. If they live in a dangerous home environment where the parents fight and argue and belittle one another, then they will grow up to believe that behavior is normal. As a child, we are greatly influenced by our parents. We look up to them. We watch them. We mimic them. And somewhere out there, there are three million children watching and mimicking abuse. One day they will abuse. One day they will perpetuate the cycle. We must stop this. Help us end the cycle. Children are our future, we need to instill in them love, tenacity, independence, and the ability to lead with compassion.