A friend who works with me at cdv.org texted me the link to a domestic violence ad that will run during the Super Bowl and said, “watch this.” I did. As I watched, I found my heart rate increasing, I was holding my breath and as it ended, I felt tears in my eyes.
I then thought of my mother, as she had made that same call a number of times.
But then my eyes began to tear even more, as I thought about what it feels like to be a child in that same home. And then I thought of this 911 call.
When a child lives with domestic violence and makes that call…
Whatever emotion you feel for the woman who made that call, for a child or a young person who is in that home, it’s heightened. You see, a child has a fully developed emotional brain, so they feel everything. But because their rational brain isn’t fully formed, they can’t balance out the
emotion. Often, they believe that in some way it is their fault or that they should be doing something to stop the violence between their parents. This creates feelings of guilt, shame and a sense of worthlessness, which frequently carry on into adulthood.
When you grow up living with domestic violence, you experienced Childhood Domestic Violence
From the standpoint of a person in childhood, domestic violence is violence between your parents, or violence towards a parent, perhaps from a significant other or a stepparent. And this violence can be physical or non physical. I can’t tell you how many times I heard while interviewing people for my book, Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence and the Truths to Set You Free, “there wasn’t any physical violence between my parents, but the words they used…I felt them physically.”
The best predictor of whether you will be in a domestically violent relationship is whether or not you grew up living with it
The best predictor of whether you will get lung cancer is whether or not you smoke. There is universal awareness of that fact. However, there is VERY little awareness or attention paid to this simple fact: the best predictor of whether you will be in a domestically violent relationship is whether or not you grew up living with it. Just like my mother.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether that woman on the 911 call grew up living with domestic violence, just like my mother, just like me, just like 50+MM others in the US alone. I wondered if she had to call 911 as a child (or perhaps was too afraid to) and is now making the same call as an adult.
I also wondered if the man in that home was at one time a boy who had to call 911, because of the violence between his parents…and is now causing another to do the same.