My Journey: Domestic Abuse and Its Effects on My Children (Part 2)
20 September 2021
Domestic Abuse doesn’t just impact the person who the abuse is directed towards. If there are children present in the home where the abuse is occurring, then that domestic abuse affects and touches these children personally, as well. Please read below to find out how domestic abuse directly impacted the children in the below personal account.
Since the abuse began before my first pregnancy, all four of my children were impacted even in the womb. These babies in utero could feel the stress and anxiety that I was struggling with during my pregnancy.
Early Warning Signs With My First Born.
I noticed that my first child showed significant signs of depression and anxiety at three years of age. My husband refused to acknowledge any of our son’s issues and was against counseling for our son. As the years went on, my oldest was significantly affected in his self-worth, academics, and ability to make friends. He experienced drunken explosions, horrific name-calling from his Dad to his Mom, riding in the car during moments of road rage, etc. As the years progressed, my son greatly struggled with his identity and who Christ created him to be. His earthly father was degrading him frequently, and I was constantly trying to intervene. My son had dreams of how he wanted his relationship with his father, so any attention from his Dad would make my son act as if no one else mattered.
Unfortunately, as my son grew older, he endured more abuse from his father and witnessed more abuse between my husband and me. There were also times where my son would act out upon his sisters, calling them derogatory names. I would ask him if he knew what they meant. He would answer no, but that he had heard Daddy call me those names when he yelled at me.
You can see how early the cycle of violence can begin when this is the environment in which the children grow up. As soon as we could flee and be on our own, I took my son to the pediatrician, where he was diagnosed with high anxiety. Thankfully, he is now receiving the help he desperately needed through antidepressants, seeing a counselor, and participating in the therapeutic horseback riding at Hope Reins. I have seen him become a different person, coming out of his hiding shell, his anxiety has lessened, and he has been more open and willing to share.
Further Evidence of Effects on My Daughters.
Unfortunately, during this time, I learned my father-in-law, her grandfather, had sexually abused my oldest daughter. After a lengthy investigation that resulted in his sentence to life in prison, my daughter was finally able to receive counseling for her own PTSD, anxiety, and behavioral concerns. My youngest daughter lived with her father from birth through age four. Once, when she was four, she accidentally spilled her cup of water, and my husband unleashed his verbal abuse upon her. While he screamed at her, she sat frozen in fear, crying and having difficulty breathing. My husband was screaming at her to clean up her mess, but she could not move. I was able to intervene, and my husband stormed out of the house. Despite treatment like this, my youngest daughter has the gift of empathy and continued to pray for her Daddy’s heart almost every night.
My two daughters are currently being evaluated for anxiety medications. Additionally, my three oldest have received phenomenal support from their school (which they have been able to stay in the same place despite our many moves). The school counselor has become like family and regularly meets with my children at school. She often even greets the children at drop-off in the mornings and helps them get started with their day, which often helps them with their separation anxiety. Unfortunately, my youngest has not been allowed to have any of the therapies that my three oldest are in until he turns five years old (next year), but he has greatly benefited from the sessions Amy has done with him and his siblings together through the There Is Hope for Me booklet (see next article in this issue).
The Long-Lasting Effects Even After.
Since our fleeing nine months ago, my children have moved to a hotel room for five weeks, with another family temporarily, and then into a donated home for transitional housing as we await being able to get our own home. I have been able to get a domestic violence protective order to my children’s school so that my husband can not visit them there. We have security walk around with us at church, and my husband is not allowed to be at the same services as we are. I told the children that we had to leave Daddy due to his anger and behavior. They never questioned it and almost seemed relieved.
Throughout our living transitions, there has been one comment that has continuously upset me that has come from several well-meaning people; “The kids will be fine; kids are resilient.” Do not be fooled by this comment. Children living in domestic violence are not resilient. It is traumatic. They live in constant fear, walking on eggshells in the very place they should feel free to relax. They become devastated by the continuous lies and degrading words. Unless the cycle is broken and they are restored, they will most likely enter toxic relationships when they mature and become adults. I pray for my children that God heals them and ultimately uses this for good in their lives.
Author anonymous for security purposes *Continuation of the story begun in the August Edition of the Barnabas Letter for a deeper look at how the domestic abuse affected the children, as well.