Why Adults Remain Silent about Domestic Violence

As we face society’s relative silence around children living with domestic violence and the adults who grew up with it in the past, it helps to also consider why adults might choose to remain silent about any domestic violence they are involved in or are witnessing. When we do look at it closely, we unravel the lie that silence somehow saves us from shame, guilt, consequence or judgment. We also see that our silence often does the opposite: it reinforces the shame, guilt and judgment we feel toward ourselves.

Adults who engage in domestic violence don’t talk about it for obvious reasons. However, why would neighbors or bystanders remain silent when they know a child is in an unsafe situation? Many bystanders simply believe it’s none of their business.

There’s also a scarcity of resources available for children who are living with domestic violence. There are even fewer resources for adults who grew up with domestic violence.

Fear and uncertainty also prevent people from doing the one thing that all research points to as the key step toward reaching their full potential—sharing what happened with another person.

Communicating our experiences helps us to better understand what actually occurred and to comprehend its true significance. Speaking our truth about what happened enables us to gain an independent perspective from others. If there is no awareness and no sharing, how can we truly understand what we experienced?

Once we can understand and recognize the memory, we can file it as a past event and therefore rewire the brain not to pull it back up at any given point, as Dr. Norman Doidge, a renowned psychoanalyst explains.

For the billion people globally who have lived with domestic violence in childhood and for the hundreds of millions of children experiencing it now, this lack of awareness keeps alive the shame and isolation, and prevents many from finding the help they need as it perpetuates the cycle of violence.

The good news is it only takes you breaking your own silence to free you of any shame and isolation, and your courage will inspire others towards courage. The ripple effect begins.

Please share in the comments below: Do you believe people should openly talk about domestic violence? Whether they’re engaging in it, children growing up with it, or bystanders aware of it—what do you think it would take to get people to talk about it?

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