Today, as I reflect on the life of my grandson, it occurred to me that growing up witnessing domestic violence (DV) is too complex to understand, being that every situation is different. What I do understand is that, domestic violence shatters lives. It challenges a young child’s behavior, emotions, and their cognitive development to name a few. It’s impossible for young minds to understand the full impact of what’s going on in their parent’s lives’. There is a much more to learn, as research is seeing the long-term effects and health issues that stems from growing up witnessing domestic violence .
You would think, that a child should be able to go to a parent or caregiver for safety and security, not in this case, this child soon discovered the fears of his mother, even some rejection, because she was experiencing her own emotional issues. I judged her for not taking a firm stand and protect her child (my grandson), being that violence was at the center of her intimate relationships. For me- it was about the child. My heart was not open to understand how difficult it was for her to leave the same relationship that she was dependent upon. It took several years, that my grandson explain to me that kept silent, because he had to protect his mom.
The Conflict Within
As I reflect on my grandsons’ situation, it was apparent that this child was in emotional conflict, as he witnessed his mother being hurt by someone she loved. Already, he was too young to understand his abrupt changes in schools, new neighborhoods, and his parents separating, just to find himself in a new situation with the same cycle. This time he now was experiencing a new addition to the family, a baby brother. Of course, any child should be expected to display some adjustments in social and school setting, as well as, having academic problems. Should we really expect a child to learn when their home life is toxic and in turmoil.
In retrospect, I’m able to see the parallels of our lives, as I too grew up witnessing domestic violence in the home. Our family was a model family in the community, so no one suspected any violence was happening on in our home. We were told, “what goes on in here–stays in here” . I can remember my mother and step father fighting every Sunday night and my older sister in the middle trying to keep him from hitting my mother. Can you believe the police were never were called and life went as usual, until the next Sunday. We had a ritual, eat together, pray together, my mom go to work and the evening ending with our parents fighting. It ended, we went to sleep and never talked about it, then Monday’s we all went to school as if everything was okay.
A Child Shall Lead Them
In fact, it became a problem for us. Today we call it inter-generational domestic violence. Looking back, both my sisters and I, experienced domestic violence in our intimate relationships. Not a good sign! unlike them, I will make a difference and hope to break this cycle, by speaking about the effects of witnessing DV and the impact of it on your life. The ongoing silence comes with long-term health consequences. And if you’re a baby boomer by now you can feel the physical and emotional effects of it. If not look around you, our children are hurting and being separated from their parents at alarming rates. But, regardless of the generation you fall in, we owe it to our children’s children to live free from this global health epidemic. We have to create change and have the courage to break this code of silence within our families.
Over the next few blogs (and this may take some weeks) journey with me, as I reflect and share honestly about breaking the cycle of inter-generational adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the black elephant in the room that continues to hurt my siblings emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I know because to date, we still can’t discuss growing up witnessing our parents fighting every week and the impact on our lives. Learning about ACEs has taught me one thing for sure, if you grew up witnessing DV, you probably have more than one ACEs that has challenged you whether it’s physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional or relational. If you are like me, It was important to start your healing journey.
It all started one-day, when we went to get my grandson from a negative situation. We was determined that he would have a better life in our home and that’s when my emotional struggles begin to unfold. …….. Reactive attachment!!!!……