Monday, October 15, 2018

Children and Domestic Abuse

Sadly in far, far too many homes around this country and around the world children witness and often experience domestic violence. This is a tragedy which passes from one generation to the next as children who experience this violence often grow to experience it again as an adult, or to go on and become an abuser themselves. Those of us who serve in Children's Ministries need to be aware of what to look for, so we may reach out and help children and adults whose lives are marred with this hideous violence. These children are often in our midst . . . we must help.

Actual and accurate statistics are difficult to find as so many cases of domestic violence go unreported, but on the Shasta Women's Refuge website I found the following information . . . 
  • A woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States - more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and to give birth to babies with low birth weights.
  • Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, isolation, etc. to coerce and to control the other person. The violence may not happen often, but it remains as a hidden (and constant) terrorizing factor. One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they had been victimized over and over again by the same person.
  • Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered - by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners. Approximately one-third of the men counseled (for battering) are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives.
  • Women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer than those who stay. Nationally, 50 percent of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home. There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children.
  • Domestic violence occurs every nine seconds in the U.S. 
  • 1 in 4 women in California will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
  •  In California 134 homicides resulted from intimate partner violence in 2006. 110 of the victims were women, 24 were men.
  • 1 in 5 female teenagers experience physical or sexual dating violence.
  • Girls experiencing physical and sexual dating violence were 4-6 times more likely to become pregnant than non-abused peers. They were 8-9 times more likely to have attempted suicide in the previous years than non-abused peers.
  • 9% of girls and 6% of boys have already experienced some sort of dating violence before they reach the 9th grade.
  • A study of nearly 2,000 8th and 9th grade students revealed that 35.5% of dating adolescents reported being a victim of at least one nonsexual dating violence act, and 10.7% of these students had been a victim of at least one sexual dating violence act
Children are profoundly affected by witnessing family violence. As the statistics above stated, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to go on to abuse their own spouse and children. And no child should live with the  intimidation, violence, pain and fear which comes with domestic violence. Know the signs to watch for and then watch for those signs . . . 
  • unexplained injuries
  • changes in behavior
  • returning to earlier behaviors
  • fear of going home
  • changes in eating
  • changes in sleeping
  • changes in school performance and attendance
  • lack of personal care or hygiene
  • risk-taking behaviors
  • inappropriate sexual behaviors
For more details on these signs, check your local women's and children's shelter and find out what you can do to be aware and how you can help children and families in crisis. Be sure to regularly train your volunteers, so they know what to watch for and know what steps to take when abuse is suspected.

I'm very proud of my brother-in-law, Curtis Chipley. He has participated in the  "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" fundraiser in Redding, CA. Participating in this event means Curtis wore a truly "stunning" pair of bright red, glitter encrusted 3" platform shoes while he actually walked a mile to raise money for the Shasta Women's Refuge! Yes, Curtis is a brave man! 

Whether you participate in an event like Curtis has, or sponsor those who do, or not . . . we must do all we can to notice if a child is being harmed and then take the steps necessary to help these children and families where domestic violence is occurring. This is an evil we must do something about.

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