By Christian Axios, Guest Blogger

This is the hardest thing in my life that I have had to overcome. Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) is no joke and should not be taken lightly. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are overreacting or that this is not a serious subject; it can and will take over your life…if you let it.

To give a little background information on myself, I am a 19-year-old college student that has experienced living as a child of domestic violence. My parents got divorced when I was 13, right at the apex of violence in my household. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I was able to start overcoming the mental obstacles that I was going through. From this moment on, I began asking myself why this had happened to me and how would I ultimately overcome my low self-esteem to reach the point of confidence that I wanted.

I was a very insecure child. I do not know the age that these experiences would have the most negative effect on a child, but it seemed to me that this happened at the very worst time in my life. It was my first year being a teenager and so many things had been changing all at once. Not only was I going through all of the common teenage stresses such as problems with girls, severe acne, and no social life, but also this occurrence of CDV seemed to be a perfect tipping point for my mental well-being.

Many who have grown up in familial situations comparable to mine know the detrimental effects that growing up in a household of domestic violence can have on one’s mental well-being. I fully believe that, if left untreated, the mental impact can result in long-lasting emotional and psychological trauma on the youth and even adults.  At this point, I have gotten through the mental agony and have become a stronger person as a result. With some motivation and ambition to better your life, you too can learn how to rise above and overcome your fears and low self-esteem.

Without getting into descriptive detail, I’m sure everyone who has had this affect them has either seen, heard or simply been aware of domestic violence in their household. For as long as I can remember, I have experienced all three. I remember waking up many times in the middle of the night to the screaming voice of my mother. This will always haunt me. The images, sounds, and bad dreams that I’ve had to experience will always be embedded in my mind and occasionally be replayed over and over at random during my everyday life, as if a reminder to my past. With this being said, I believe that I have overcome the majority of the pain and agony that growing up with domestic violence as a child has had on me. While these experiences have become a part of me, I will no longer allow my brain to take control of my thinking.

The hardest and first step that you must face is the fact that this is not your fault and that you are a worthy human being who just happened to lose the lottery of a stable family life. This is an issue between your parents and can ONLY be resolved by them. I had and still have thoughts of wishing I had been a bigger and stronger 13-year-old who could have done something during one of those dark and scary nights. This thought will only hurt you more. No matter how old or big you are, getting involved physically  will only make matters worse. I am not saying that if you are currently going through this that you shouldn’t do anything. However, the problems between your parents should not also beget problems between you and one of them. If you are reading this and currently going through a situation like mine, I advise you to reach out to an organization such as the Childhood Domestic Violence Association right away to save yourself and your parents the mental and physical anguish that no one should have to experience.

Be ambitious and motivated to change your life and better your mental circumstances if you truly want to overcome these mental obstacles. Decide that you will never let your anger or strong emotions take control of you, resulting in hurting your partner or others. One of the most helpful thoughts was knowing that I am not my father, nor that I will never acquire his inability to control his emotions.

The next step is, in my experience, the hardest. In fact, I am still learning forgiveness. Like me, you may have some form of anger towards the person who caused your pain. You may also feel anger for why you had been put through this. For me, this person is my biological father. Since the divorce I have not had a good relationship with him, and though we live in the same town, I have gone as long as years from even speaking to him. Ultimately, it was my choice whether I wanted to see him or reach out to him; yet I defaulted on this because I was angry for putting all the blame on him for what happened. I was angry because I wish he had been different and that my family was still together.

This mindset will only bring unnecessary negativity into your life. Forgive and accept the fact that you had no control over the matter and that whatever happened was for a reason. This is not justifying abusive behavior, but rather recognizing that the divorce itself was meant to be. Wishing things had been different will only cloud your mind and bring distress that won’t solve anything. Don’t stress over things out of your control– especially when they are in the past.

domestic-violence-quote-cdvThe final step is hope. Find something to believe in, whether that is a better tomorrow or even a religion. Use the people around you as a backbone to withstand negative, lingering effects of Childhood Domestic Violence. Don’t be afraid to seek help or to talk about your feelings with someone. Lastly, don’t feel ashamed about the events that happened in your childhood; not only are there many more people who have been through the same situation, but you did not choose for any of it to happen.

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