A Key Question – Did You Grow Up Living with Domestic Violence?

This Sunday I watched football on TV.  A public service announcement interrupted the typical beer and new truck commercial repertoire and hit on a topic that is often brushed under the rug of polite conversation: domestic violence. The actors in the ad vehemently declared:

No more….It’s none of my business, He didn’t mean it, It’s not my problem, She was flirting with him, She was asking for it, Boys will be boys, I’ll say something next time, Bystanding, Ignorance, Excuses.  NO MORE

All of these phrases resonated with me because my mother was in a domestically violent relationship.  So on one level, I understand them.  She helped me understand them on a different level.

I watched the ad a second time. I couldn’t ignore one nagging question: Why won’t the NFL just ask everyone watching the most important question– “Did you grow up living with domestic violence?”  If you did, there are some things you need to know.

If you grew up in a home where there was domestic violence, you experienced childhood domestic violence or CDV.

When you’re just a kid, domestic violence is violence between your parents. It can also be violence toward a parent – perhaps from a stepparent or a significant other. And it doesn’t have to be physical abuse for it to be real abuse.

I often hear, “There wasn’t any physical violence in my home. But the words they used – to me – I felt them physically.” I felt the impact.

And for the NFL, answer is right there in front of them.  One of their marquee players, Jason Witten, grew up living with domestic violence and just the other day said, “I’ve been fortunate to understand my story, and my path to where I am today.”     He even started his own foundation to help others who grew up living with domestic violence.   Someone asked Jason that question, and for him, it made all the difference in the world.

What about those who were never asked that question?  How many NFL players have grown up living with domestic Violence?  We know Curtis Martin did, because he talked about it during his Hall of Fame induction.

How many who were watching the NFL this past Sunday?  Researchers estimate it to be about 40 million in the US alone.  Many of whom probably watched that PSA and said to themselves, ‘I remember when I was a young and that happened in my home and I was powerless to stop it.  I did something to cause it.  I said No More every night, but it kept happening.’

My mother grew up living with domestic violence. So did her boyfriend. So did I.

If you did. You’re not alone. And there’s something you can do about it.

The first step is to ask yourself this question. And then answer it honestly: “Did I grow up living in a home with domestic violence?”  Then you can ask those you care about, “Did my parents, my husband, my wife, my friend?”

An honest answer will allow you to uncover certain lies learned in childhood. Lies that hold us back from reaching out full potential…unless they are unlearned.

The good news is that once we are aware of the lies, the truths also become visible.  And yes, we can unlearn what was learned.

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