Every year, we celebrate Labor Day to acknowledge the value and rewards of hard work and commitment to one’s goals. As we relax and spend the day leisurely, we’re reminded of the American Dream that promises to reward hard work and dedication with a successful, financially stable, happy, and fulfilling life of plenty.

But although the American Dream is a beacon of hope for people from around the globe, many in our nation are deprived of pursuing the American Dream right here in our midst, because they’ve been wired in a way that sets them up to fail before they ever have a chance to succeed.

Those who grow up with a major childhood adversity – such as Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) – find themselves at a significant disadvantage that makes succeeding, fulfilling their goals, and reaching their full potential a near impossible task.

Why? Because growing up in a household with domestic violence negatively wires your developing brain and cognitive belief system, encoding a series of negative beliefs (LIES) that, if unchecked early on, can last into adulthood and hold them back from the achieving their dreams and a successful, fulfilling life. So many of those who grow up in these households never have a shot at the American Dream, but instead are doomed to struggle throughout life, finding their efforts frustrated, their goals failed, unable to achieve their full potential and attain the life that was meant for them.

For some, the consequences are dire. Those who grow up in a home with domestic violence are 6 times more likely to commit suicide, 50% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, 74% more likely to commit a violent crime, and CDV is the single best predictor of becoming a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence in adulthood. The majority of prisoners come from these homes and children growing up with a parent who experienced CDV are at least 15x more likely to experience physical child abuse.

Even among those who don’t become one of these statistics, according to an expert on how the brain learns, “they will never reach their full potential…UNLESS…they unlearn what was learned in childhood.” And many never have a chance to unlearn, because CDV has less than 15% public awareness and most who grow up with it don’t even realize they experienced something. So as one of the leading experts noted, they “cannot connect the dots between what they experienced in childhood and the challenges they face today.”

To even the odds for those who grow up living with domestic violence and ensure that they too can have a fair shot at going after and attaining the American Dream, we must build universal awareness of CDV, increase understanding of its impact, and clear the path to the solutions.

Here are 3 simple things you can do today:

  • ASK THE QUESTION, OF YOURSELF OR ANOTHER: It begins with asking one fundamental question that has hardly ever been asked or answered before: “Did I/ you grow up living with domestic violence?” Learn more here to help answer the question.
  • SHARE THE SECRET: If you grew up with CDV, tell someone you trust. Conversation helps transform the meaning and according to research, it’s one of the most effective ways to heal from CDV and overcome the impact.
  • SPREAD THE KNOWLEDGE: If you didn’t grow up with it, with 1 in 7 people impacted, you most surely know someone who did. So spread the word and share our website, to help build awareness and lead those impacted directly to concrete tools and resources that can help change their life. www.cdvdevstaging.wpengine.com