CDV Story

Sidney Cooper is a young woman who has seen enough anger and violence for a lifetime. 

She grew up with Childhood Domestic Violence.

At its heart, Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) occurs when a person grows up living in a home with domestic violence (DV). CDV is violence between parents or violence towards a parent — perhaps from a stepparent or significant other. The violence can be physical, non-physical, or both, but it is NOT directed towards the child. 

CDV has little awareness compared to other adversities that many children face such as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and physical and emotional neglect. Yet, CDV often co-occurs alongside other adversities prevalent in a home and the cycles of violence and neglect can repeat for generations.  

Many can spend their lives thinking they are alone, thinking the violence in childhood was their fault.  Others may take years to discover the truths about their childhood, that growing up with CDV is a thing.  

One moment in time may be enough to spark awareness that your violent family life isn’t how a family should live together.  Sidney’s journey is one of perseverance and patience and learning. She proves you can have a fulfilling life after growing up with childhood violence.

Sidney’s Story

    Written by Sidney Cooper

What was it like to grow up in a home with domestic violence?

The word that comes to mind when describing what it was like to grow up in a home with domestic violence is fearful. I was terribly afraid of my stepdad. His abuse could look like grabbing and throwing things at my mom. Going on a drunken tangent for hours on end, (on school nights). Cursing and threatening my mother. I remember the words “I’m going to bash your fucking head in the concrete being said to my mom in front of myself and all off my siblings on multiple occasions. When I was two he held my favorite dress in front of my face and asked “is this your favorite dress?” while he took a pair of scissors and cut it. When I was 8 he did the same thing to my brother’s optimus prime toy that he had just got for his birthday.

I didn’t understand this as domestic violence

As a child I didn’t understand that this was domestic violence. In my mind my stepdad was mean, and angry. I called him dad until I was about 12 and then I realized that’s not how fathers are supposed to act, and I stopped speaking to him at all. I didn’t realize my home wasn’t normal until I went to a friend’s house. There was an instance where my friend had spilled her drink, I braced myself waiting to hear the screams of her dad for making a mistake. But it didn’t come. It was no big deal in her home. I saw how loving a father is supposed to be and then I knew something was wrong in my home.

Having a name made me see I am not alone

Having a name for it now has helped me recognize that what I went through was real. My mom, nor any of my siblings talk about it. Which is understandable, it is painful to talk about. Talking about it and naming it has helped me realize that I am not alone in my experiences.

The Impact CDV has made on my health

CDV has definitely impacted my physical health, emotional wellbeing, behaviors and relationships as an adult. For starters I am the most indecisive person in the world. I don’t trust myself to make decisions because I didn’t have a home where I could make mistakes. In my home mistakes, got you yelled at for 2 hours straight.

My physical health has also been affected at times. I would get this sharp ear pain for days and have no idea where it was coming from. Until I realized that stress was being held in my body and I was subconsciously clenching my jaw causing ear pain anytime I was stressed or scared.

My emotions can be hard to regulate at times. Since that state of my emotions regulated so intensely as a child, that is how they have regulated as an adult. When I am sad, I am depressed, when I love, I lose all sense of reasoning. Everything is intense.

Awareness to self awareness to confidence

Despite these negative impacts. I have made great efforts to overcome these obstacles. The first step was creating awareness. I became aware and accepted that what happened was wrong and was out of my control. 

I then took notice of the defense mechanism I created to feel safe as a child and began to unlearn those things. Creating self-awareness has created self-confidence and that has made all the difference. Self-confidence is the driver of everything in our lives. Once you fix that, you can fix anything.

My life now as a child of domestic violence

Now I’m 25 and have graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree in business management. I work as an HR specialist and in my free time I volunteer with the local CASA team to help support children that need an advocate. Health is something that is important to me, so I go to the gym 5 days a week. I also have a side business as a bridal makeup artist on the weekends, and I have found my purpose connecting to God and giving back where I can.

Advice for those who have grown up with childhood domestic violence

I don’t think CDV has made me less than. I have had to overcome a few more obstacles than most people. My social anxiety being my biggest obstacle, but I take it a day at a time.

My advice to anyone facing Childhood Domestic Violence is understanding that it is not your fault what you went through. You didn’t have the power to choose what you were born into, but you have all the power to choose where you are going. Take the necessary time you need to heal and take back your life. You can be who you were meant to be before the abuse happened, perhaps someone even better.