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.
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.