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The Children

I believe the children are our are future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.

~ from “The Greatest Love of All” written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed

Thank you to the brave people that came before me for providing a community that creates domestic violence survivors. Because of your voices, I’ve been able to find mine. And now it’s time to save the children — the children born in abusive relationships.

Have you ever grabbed your children and run into a room in fear of your spouse? Have you ever called a crisis line to de-escalate an abusive outburst in your home? Has a gun ever been pointed at you while your children were asleep upstairs? Have you ever been belittled in front of your family and friends? Have you ever run barefoot down your driveway holding your six-month-old while being followed by a large truck? Have you ever called the police because your spouse was screaming, “Give me my gun!” at the top of his lungs in front of your children? Have you ever called friends, family members, and the police to check on your spouse after a violent outburst or a threat of suicide? Have you ever been so stressed that your BMI plummeted to 15.7 and your blood pressure was 180/110 while medicated?

I imagine the adult in that situation would be afraid, depressed, anxious, and confused. But imagine the children. Especially the ones who don’t yet have language. To them, this is part of their routine. But it’s not normal, and it shouldn’t be considered so. No one should become used to the rush of cortisol and adrenaline in a place that’s supposed to be a haven. The world can be a scary place, but there should always be peace and safety at home.

Our bodies react to fear in order to protect ourselves. Our brains rush with chemicals and send signals throughout our bodies in situations that trigger fear. It keeps us alive. Those reactions are part of the reason humanity has come as far as it has. But children should never experience those chemical rushes or feel that fear in their homes due to the behaviors of the people they live with – their caretakers. When they do, it changes their ability to trust, to love, to feel safe, and to comprehend the world. They grow up with feelings of fear, depression, anxiety, and confusion. It sets them up to remain that way into adulthood.

With agencies in place to help people leave abusive relationships, more survivors have been created. We’re realizing the unhealthy situations we’ve been in, healing our wounds and using our voices loudly and proudly. We’ve made it to the other side of life. The side where we experience peace and healthy relationships. The side where we can love our children and provide them with peaceful and gentle environments, places in which they can be vulnerable because they feel loved and safe. And in those places, we can breathe and experience gratitude because we know the other side of life. And we never have to go back.

Well, we don’t. But they do.

The family court system regularly grants abusive spouses unsupervised visitation with their children. The family court system regularly deems it necessary to move children from safe and healthy environments to unstable and stressful environments. The family court system regularly forces protective parents into face-to-face contact with their abusers to hand off their most precious gifts. The family court system threatens protective parents with punishment if they do not comply. Fear, depression, anxiety, and confusion courses through the bodies of protective parents during each such interaction. Those interactions are forced. They’re detrimental to brains and bodies – especially developing brains and bodies.

Why?

I was saved. I was given a second chance. I will use my voice to help those children — to transform their fear, depression, anxiety, and confusion into safety, peace, stability, and strength.

Are abusive parents’ rights worth more than the safety of their children? Currently, the answer is yes. We need to change that.

Our future depends on it.

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JoAnna Bennetthttps://obriencg.com/blog/
I’m a working single mother of two wonderful little humans. I’m also an avid reader, an insatiable learner, and a self-acknowledged survivor. I’m grateful to work at O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) because I’ve learned the self-soothing and restorative craft of writing. I used to resist calling myself a writer because I have a finance degree. I naively thought I needed an English degree to effectively express myself in writing. But now, writer is a title I proudly wear, and writing is something I’ll practice for the rest of my life. OCG is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do this so well because we get to know our clients, listen to their reasons for existing, and share their message loudly and proudly.

8 COMMENTS

  1. The deep beliefs that parents unconditionally love their children-that children are to be seen and not heard (plus all the related core beliefs that linger in the human cultural psyche) must be confronted by the reality that many children live with little or no safety-physically, emotionally, mentally. Coupled with “It’s not our business how another person parents their children.” All this creates a caldron of mess because the beliefs do not match the reality!! We can likely trace this back to viewing certain human beings as property rather than as human beings. The deep dive to lingering core beliefs may give you an answer to your “why.”

    How important to continue to advocate, confront these limiting beliefs that remain underneath actions, policies, procedures, a criminal justice system that fail to protect children. Valuing children involves a massive shift in consciousness, in beliefs, in awareness, in actions that remain connected to the new beliefs of actually revering the safety, worth, and dignity of all people.

    Thank you for your passionate commitment to raising the awareness, to discussing these issues, to shifting the beliefs, policies, procedures, etc. so that all those who keep saying they value children-are backing this up with actual actions that are aligned with those words.

    Trauma must be understood by more people. Neuroscience and many healing modalities are coming on strong to show us how to heal traumas and break the cycles of violence among human beings. May this courageous work on all fronts continue!!!

  2. Joanna, all that you speak is something that travels back to years ago, and you would think there would be some change for the better. Perhaps there is but even as a child going from orphanage, juvenile hall, foster care, the abuse followed. When I became a police officer, at a time where women were just breaking the barrier, I wanted to help those most vulnerable, the children. I was able to do that to a degree. Now, after being retired, the abuse of the children in human trafficking, parental abuse, domestic abuse, continues. I just woner what the light will be that will really turn this around, and then I read your article, and saw a light.

    • Thank you for bringing happy tears to my eyes. This topic is near and dear to me – as I’m sure you can tell. Having a person with your background and understanding see a light in my words is nothing short of humbling. I was amazed at how the “family court” system functions. And after speaking with many women and men who fought the same battle, I realized how common it was. I’m ready to shed a light on the darkness.

  3. As usual, Joanna, thank you for this. You truly provide a picture of the terror evoked under these dire circumstances. Over the last several years, I have worked with adults who suffer from the ramifications and fear of emotional abuse. Many of them come from families where resources and prestige cloak provide a barrier which many choose not to penetrate. With these situations, I have seen the corrosive effects when the other parent does not intervene.💖

    • After reading “The Deepest Well” by Nadine Burke, I realized how dire these situations can be and how pervasive they are. But I also realized that the best way to deal with them. Each child (and adult) needs a buffer. A person who believes them. A person who loves them no matter what. Of course I want to protect my children, especially when I know the fear, intimidation and horror they may be exposed to. But if the court won’t let me, I’ll be their buffer. And I’ll use my voice to help the children that may not have one.

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