By Chelsea Waldroup, 16 years old – Former child of domestic violence featured in documentary “The Children Next Door”
It’s the elephant in the room – the intense emotions of being torn between two people you love and trust. Scared and confused, I began to feel hopeless. Even worse than all the violence against my mother was the fact that my siblings and I had began to think this was normal.
My experience with domestic violence as a child was full of emotions I couldn’t understand. My father in my eyes was the most perfect person in the world. To my mother, he was the reason she couldn’t sleep at night. A simple conversation between the two would escalate into an argument, which in turn would lead to new bruises on my mother’s body. At 6 years old, I believed this was how all families were. I didn’t realize other children didn’t’ see what I witnessed daily.
Now that I am 16, my beliefs and perspectives have changed. I now understand that what I witnessed was far from normal. My mother no longer gets beaten and my father is serving a 32-year sentence for letting his abusive anger get the better of him.
When others are informed of my situation, I’ve gotten used to the same sympathetic reaction. This is why when I met Brian Martin and his foundation – Children of Domestic Violence (CDV) – I was surprised. I was not treated as a helpless victim – I was treated as a survivor. I’ve always had the drive to succeed within me, but Children of Domestic Violence took my drive to a whole new level. I will never forget when Brian asked me something I will always carry with me during hard times: “Yes, you’ve been through the worst. So, what can stop you now from achieving your goals?” At the time, I replied a weak and reluctant “nothing” but now I realize the answer is “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!”
I believe Children of Domestic Violence is very important. The children and teens of domestic violence are rarely recognized. That is the main focus Children of Domestic Violence. My family and I now have the unique knowledge of someone else who has been in a similar situation and is thriving in life despite this experience. Every child and teen of domestic violence needs to know what Children of Domestic Violence has taught us – that no matter what situation you have been in and what you’ve going through, your future is yours and you determine how bright you want it to be.