As children we are often aware only of what’s happening directly around us. Yet as we become adults we often discover that the way our parents (or guardians) treated us had a lot to do with how they were treated as children.
Domestic violence is unfortunately a vicious cycle that is often inherited and passed on from generation to generation. Adults who find themselves victims of domestic violence were also often children of domestic violence. The same goes for adults who perpetrate domestic violence. They could very likely have been children of domestic violence as well.
This does not excuse their violence. It does, however, help us understand that the power and responsibility to break that cycle now lies with us, and our choices moving forward.
Both my mother and her abusive boyfriend Keith had grown up living with domestic violence, as did their parents. They all grew up the same way I did. This was something I did not know or understand at the time; I discovered it only a short time ago after finally speaking with my mother (in preparation for writing my book, Invincible).
As you and I both know, my story is not unique. In the United States alone, more than 10 million children are living with domestic violence—just as I did, just as my mother did, just as Keith did. More than one in seven adults in the United States, or 40 million people, lived with Childhood domestic violence (CDV).
Perhaps you were one of them. Or perhaps you love someone who grew up in a home like mine, or you know of a child in need of help. Or perhaps you are just a caring soul. Whatever prompted you to visit this blog; I am grateful that we’re here together.
The simple but powerful message that I share in my book Invincible, that I hope also comes through in
this post, is this:
If you lived with domestic violence when you were young, you no longer have to live with its effects
HOW AWARENESS CAN SET US FREE
“We are capable of change, but our childhood is part of who we are as an adult,” says Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. We will address what happened when you were young, but know this: You, having grown up in that house, learned certain lies in childhood about who you believe you are, and those lies may be holding you back from reaching your full potential and experiencing the happiness that was meant for you.
A friend of mine made me aware of the work of Dr. John Schindler, who defines happiness as “having pleasant thoughts most of the time.” I love that definition because I can understand it. According to this description, I was not happy. I am now.
How about you? Are your thoughts pleasant most of the time? Or are you like I was, feeling more bad than good each day, but not knowing why? The awareness you’ll gain from this blog, and also from my book Invincible, can take you from that place of feeling guilty to being free, transforming any shame into a true honoring and understanding of both yourself and what you went through as a child.
I invite you to journey with me to unlearn the shame of growing up with domestic violence—to understand what you experienced, how it changed you, and how you can reach the potential that was meant for you.
First things first though, “to build self-control you must first have self-awareness,” says mental-health expert Professor Kelly McGonigal.
I encourage you to share in the comments below what thoughts, behaviors, feelings or beliefs you have right now that you would like to change. What are you aware of right now that you would like to heal?