From Parent to Parent: A Message about Childhood Domestic Violence

Contributed by Ann Cuthbert Livingston

I write these words to you…my fellow parents.

I write them, not as a professional, or someone with a degree, but as a mom of 5 children who were a part of this messed up world I lived in – this world of domestic violence that you may also know well.

Many parents caught up in abusive relationships at home don’t realize the impact on their children – and most importantly, the lifelong scars it can carry. Most believe they are keeping the violence hidden from their kids or that because the violence is not directed specifically towards them, there is no long-term damage done. You must know this is false and you’re lying to yourself!

The children you gave birth to, the ones you love very much, WILL BE AFFECTED by the violence at home! I beg you, I plead with you, I need you to hear me.

The things I’ve had to deal with are things no adult should have to endure, let alone a child. But my children did, and if you’re raising your children in a violent home environment, chances are yours will too. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, anger issues, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression…and so much more.

I’ve awoken to my teen screaming as she runs down the hall to find me to comfort her after a nightmare. I’ve sat in the back of ambulances and by hospital beds after numerous suicide attempts. I’ve watched helplessly as my child had no idea who she was, or who I was, or even that she was in her own home – effects of her medications.

I’ve spent countless hours in community mental health buildings meeting with therapists and doctors to try to get my children the help they need. I’ve walked out of facilities after leaving my daughter there, feeling completely empty inside. I’ve cried and cried, and with each subsequent time I had to leave her there, I’ve had less tears and more anger, knowing much of this could have been prevented!

My children have cut themselves. Often, they don’t have a good sense of boundaries, and share too much information with anyone who will listen. There are times they treat me with complete lack of respect – another lesson they learned from living with domestic violence…

This list could go on and on. But I just wanted to get a few words out there, a few words to you – a few words, from one parent to another. I want you to really understand how being in a violent household affects your children!

Children who live with violence in their homes face many risks and challenges that can last a lifetime. You need to know the consequences – you need to know the TRUTH!

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ATTENTION: If you lived or still live in a home with violence, take our CHANGE A LIFE training, developed by the world’s leading researcher, to learn how you can support your child, help them cope better, and promote their resiliency. There is a special section FOR PARENTS that walks you step-by-step through the simple things you can do and key messages you can share to make a difference in your child’s life.  

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