Growing up in a tornado
The last month or so I've been pulling my hair - figuratively, of course - but I am literally to the point where I am on the verge of being bald. School is back in session and my youngest comes home with the stories of who is bullying who at school, all while Lend a Hand has been getting calls for help....shelter...from young adults. Babies still in my opinion who are 18...19....20...years old. Children who have grown up in a tornado of violence, domestic violence.
From the stories of school yard bullying to these children in need of help - all a reminder of just how screwed up we are of a society right now - and just exactly what is the outcome of domestic violence, alcoholism, parents stressed to the limits in this economy - the ones who work so much there's no time to know where their children are to the ones who can't find work or depression/mental illness keeps them in bed with their eyes closed wishing they were someone else...somewhere else.
Those bullies on the school ground are often children expressing the life they go home to...
Those kids who have no where to go...even though relatives live near by, down the street - were children who were forgotten about long before they ever walked out or were tossed out of that front door.
While the symptoms of their childhood may look different to those they pass, the one thing in common they do have is they are survivors on the road to self destruction if they don't break free from the grasp of that tornado of domestic violence, the only thing they have ever known.
It infuriates me to see so many lives damaged by a pain a child should never have to feel - I get frustrated because I know why these young people make the poor decisions they do...I can see their choices coming before they make them, and despite the hope I also have that they "wake up" ....start respecting themselves...I know they have a long...very long ..road ahead of them before they will look in the mirror and appreciate that reflection before them.
I am not a perfect mother, far from it. My own children, unfortunately, were also touched by the evil of domestic violence. And, while it wasn't an entire childhood exposed to it, it was long enough to do the damage trauma like that does.
Every day since my ex has been out of our lives, every day since that last assault they witnessed is a work in progress towards healing- Us, healing, together as a family unit. My youngest still has issues with understanding emotions, and my eldest still has some anger to deal with - and me, I still have some guilt as a mother to get over. But, for the most part, we're making it - breaking free from the tornado and standing on a firmer foundation for all of our futures.
So, maybe it's for that reason when I now see and work with these young adults that I have been for the last month or so, I can see past their behaviors and understand the core of where all of their poor choices come from. At one time I was them.
On one hand they need to learn consequences for those choices, but on the other hand they need to know the love and patience of nurturing, something that was not freely given to them when it should have been, when they were learning from the adults around them how to live.
How can we reach them in a community where resources are so scarce, but talk, rumors and judgments are around every turn? And, yes, I know....I realize...not all of them will break free - but if one does, then the future impact will be great - because they too will pay it forward...
Obviously, a lot is on my mind this week - but when you've seen children who have grown up in pits of inhumanity - or have met young girls who have had their head split open by someone they called a parent...or have been raped by a trusted an adult - and then know there are so many like them....in this small rural community where many are stressed to the limits that comes with poverty...with alcoholism and with growing up in families where lashing out or in was the norm...it's hard not to have a lot to think about.
In honor of October being the National Domestic Violence Awareness month below is some information on the most tragic outcome of domestic violence...the legacy...what it does to our children.....
The Effects of DV on Children
The trauma they experience can show up in emotional, behavioral, social and physical disturbances that effect their development and can continue into adulthood.
- Grief for family and personal losses.
- Shame, guilt, and self blame.
- Confusion about conflicting feelings toward parents.
- Fear of abandonment, or expressing emotions, the unknown or personal injury.
- Depression and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.
- Acting out or withdrawing.
- Aggressive or passive.
- Refusing to go to school.
- Care taking; acting as a parent substitute.
- Lying to avoid confrontation.
- Rigid defenses.
- Excessive attention seeking.
- Bedwetting and nightmares.
- Out of control behavior.
- Reduced intellectual competency.
- Manipulation, dependency, mood swings.
- Isolation from friends and relatives.
- Stormy relationships.
- Difficulty in trusting, especially adults.
- Poor anger management and problem solving skills.
- Excessive social involvement to avoid home.
- Passivity with peers or bullying.
- Engaged in exploitative relationships as perpetrator or victim.
- Somatic complaints, headaches and stomachaches.
- Nervous, anxious, short attention span.
- Tired and lethargic.
- Frequently ill.
- Poor personal hygiene.
- Regression in development.
- High risk play.
- Self abuse