By Stephanie March, Guest Blogger
When I was a kid, my parents went through an incredibly nasty divorce. So much anger and hostility was displayed between them that it left me scrambling to be the peacemaker. I quickly learned that this was an impossible task and nothing I did would calm the animosity each parent had for the other. This left me feeling inadequate and incredibly alone.
What I witnessed between my parents, the fighting and name calling, was completely unhealthy for any child with a developing brain and soul to see. After their split, they continued to use me as a weapon in and out of the courtroom. One parent would bash the other and often turned that anger towards me when the other was no longer around. The other parent would ignore how upset I often was with the wave of a hand and the closing of their bedroom door.
I was left to somehow cope while attending my first year in middle school. There was no internet to turn to for information and no chat rooms, social media, or forums in which to find support. I couldn’t even define what I was experiencing with an actual word or term.
I now know that what my adolescent self was drowning in was CDV or Childhood Domestic Violence. This term, outlined by cdv.org and the book INVINCIBLE, stands for what children caught in the middle of domestic violence are experiencing. These children see everything from physical to emotional abuse between the adults meant to care for them and are often the recipients as well. It’s a traumatic experience for the child that is mostly not discussed or even recognized.
As an adult, I became the victim of domestic violence, which is an extremely common occurrence for CDV survivors. I write often about my experiences and this has led many adults to reach out to me and share that they too grew up in homes where one parent abused the other. These people tell me how much it damaged them and impacted their lives. None of them realize there is an actual term for what it is they experienced.
Since my childhood of growing up living with CDV, the Internet has taken over so much of our social lives and provided vast amounts of ways in which we access information. I have found support like no other on sites like Twitter, where people openly campaign to bring awareness to everything from domestic violence to sexual assault to mental health.
I have found people with stories much like my own, summed up in one tweet or a series of tweets. This has brought me enormous comfort and helped me realize more and more how I am not alone. There is not a single thought or feeling that someone somewhere doesn’t also share. It’s truly a powerful resource.
By sharing my own experiences from the triumphs to the struggles, I have hopefully helped encourage others to do the same. I know their support has brought me endless amounts of encouragement.
It is this knowledge that brings me the hope that things in our society will change as more people speak out about topics that were once shunned with the blanket of silence. That more people will get help and realize they are not alone. That more people will become educated about topics like Childhood Domestic Violence.
This hope is not limited to adults. More and more children are going online and accessing information. Research provided by Ohio University’s Phyllis W. Bernt states that among children of the middle school age group “69% had a computer”. This same study reports the “middle school years fell in the period of highest total media exposure, a total of eight hours and eight minutes a day”. These numbers prove that access to the information is there for children experiencing CDV, as I did at their age.
These children often grow up believing the LIES that CDV has taught them. These children, and adults, deserve to know the TRUTHS that were denied them. Social media is a way to reach them, spread education, and provide comfort. It is one of many guiding lights that exist in an area that has been kept in the dark for far too long.
If you have experienced CDV, or any other form of trauma, I encourage you to reach out to others in any way possible. There are hotlines available for those that feel they can’t turn to friends or family. The important thing is that you free yourself from what you have been carrying for so long.
You deserve to be heard, to find comfort, and to learn that there is strength in numbers. You are a survivor and your soul is truly Invincible.