Whether you have faced any form of violence in your life, or have been blessed not to, it is hard to miss the immense impact Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work has had on humanitarian efforts in eliminating violence and injustice. It may be front and center, especially for those who grew up with Childhood Domestic Violence, or who work to help those who did, that this day’s focus of nonviolence, empowerment, and justice serves as a reminder that no one should have to experience violence in their home, especially as a child.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy
The Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, now stands as the National Civil Rights Museum. And although, for the most part, many of us first think of civil rights awareness, MLK day and Dr. King’s legacy have always meant more than that. His ideals and vision were all encompassing and continue to reach into all areas of humanitarian efforts.
He fought against oppression, ignorance violence, and injustice. His goal of improving human rights and ensuring equality for all people was based on deep rooted concepts of compassion and fairness. He promoted these ideas passionately and understood how important it was to connect people to each other through mutual respect. These two pillars were Dr. King’s mission.
MLK’s vision and parallels in the journey of those impacted by CDV
The above concepts and ideals likely hit close to home for anyone who grows up in a home with domestic violence. We all know MLK’s most famous “I have a dream…” speech. Growing up with violence in your childhood home, did you not also have a dream that your home was peaceful, and that you didn’t have to live with violence that made you feel fearful, helpless and small? Did you not experience a great injustice and did you not feel powerless to change it?
Now, you are grown, but you may still be thinking of that childhood home and still wishing, dreaming that it was different? How has that experience of CDV changed you as a person? Do you feel that something is amiss in your life and that your childhood of living with violence has had an adverse impact on your life?
As one who faced major adversity in your childhood, you are far stronger than you know. There is a well of resiliency in you that you may not realize you have. You have been fire-tested at a young age, and equipped, through the necessity of survival, with an uncommon strength to overcome obstacles in life that others who did not face major adversity like you do not have. These are the gifts you inherited in exchange for the high price paid in childhood – freedom, compassion, passion, courage. Now it’s time to use them!
The impact of CDV on a life
Extensive research has shown that growing up in a home with domestic violence (CDV) has a potentially life long negative impact on a life. Into adulthood, it impedes the life you are meant to live – it stifles your potential.
CDV literally rewires a child’s developing brain, creating a false belief system – the LIES of CDV.
Understanding your potential after a life of CDV
Change is hard for anyone but especially when you have grown up with CDV. You have many beliefs about yourself that you think to be true. Until you face these LIES and learn the TRUTHS about yourself, you will struggle to find the peace you deserve or the potential to lead a happier and better life – the one that you want, and CAN achieve.
Do you feel you can’t trust others?
Do you struggle to love yourself or love others?
Do you find yourself sad, resentful, angry often?
Does hopelessness creep in when things aren’t going your way at times or do you compare yourself to others and feel unworthy?
Do you often feel sad and fail to see what there is in your life that’s worth being ungrateful for any of the things you have in your life?
Do you look in the mirror and feel unhappy or unsettled with what you see or believe that you’re completely alone in your struggles and no one understands what you faced in childhood.
Do you find you constantly worry about everything and fear the worst is around the corner?
Are you even aware of your gifts of inner strength, resiliency to face future hardships, and kindness to others facing adversity that course through your body and mind after the hardship and adversity you faced as a child? These are the LIES that were encoded growing up in that home. Herein lies the challenge and struggle many CDVs people face into finding a life of contentment, confidence, achievement, and fulfillment. peace, and realize their potential.
This negative cognitive belief system has an impact on the major areas of your life:
It comes down to change
Dr. King had a lifetime filled with landmarks – with achievements that can be marked on a calendar. But what really matters for those of us who grew up with CDV right now as we think about MLK and this day of remembrance?
We understand injustices and how it can rob us of the life and bright future that we dream of. What can today’s day of remembrance do to improve our life in the aftermath of CDV or someone else’s who faces the same?
Dr. King was an agent of change. Through his nonviolent principles and actions taken to fight injustice, he knew that we must take action and if we do, change has to happen. He felt that it is only through change that progress of a common and shared goal can be successful.
Dr. King proved the power of action, fueled by dreams and aspirations, in overcoming adversity. It is time today for you to take a lesson from Dr. King’s book and take action, to reclaim your life and make positive changes – for yourself as a former child of CDV and for all former and current children of CDV.
Some concrete steps to get you on the path to change
If you don’t understand that CDV had an impact on you, that is the first step. It is connecting these dots to your childhood that will jumpstart the process of reclaiming your life. Knowledge is power. Once you can name and understand this major childhood adversity’s impact on your life you can begin to consciously unlearn what was learned in that home and take back your life. And this is the path to setting yourself FREE.
Next, to enable changes, you have to become the changemaker in your life. To unlearn the faulty beliefs that do not serve you, it is important to take action daily by reading, learning as much as you can, interacting, and sharing with others. Sharing is one of the most effective ways to facilitate change – individually and collectively – because it builds awareness, your own and that of others. And awareness itself is curative in our society.
Unlearning the lies of CDV is something you may need to work on every day, until the TRUTHS become more natural and intuitive to you. The TRUTHS that negate the LIES are below.
FREE from the illusion of guilt, because a child is never responsible for the actions of an adult.
COMPASSIONATE for others and self, because they know what real hurt feels like.
GRATEFUL, because they focus on what they have and what they’ve gained, not what they’ve lost.
TRUSTING, because as they assume that another’s intent is positive, they will never be alone.
PASSIONATE, as they take control of the energy from anger and point it towards their passion.
GUIDED, because they have purpose now.
ACCOMPLISHED, because as they realize what they had to overcome as a child, few other obstacles compare.
CONFIDENT, because they know what real fear feels like, and this gives them confidence to face anything.
ATTRACTIVE, because as they realize the TRUTHS, they feel esteem for self and are more attractive to others.
LOVED, because making others feel cared for, appreciated and important makes them feel the same.
By visiting cdv.org, where you will find and can choose to follow a step by step path to self-empowerment, start with and take some action and positive change.
Personal fulfillment after a life of trauma
Personal fulfillment begins with the steps taken above to get you on the path of empowering your own life and changing your dreams from potential to reality. The adversity you faced in your childhood does not have to define your future. Along the way, you will also find you are not alone. There is a very large community of others – statistics of CDV show there are 1 billion like you globally – struggling to find answers and change.
Dr. King’s example shows that a movement starts with one person. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Start making a change today by visiting our website, joining our social media platform (social media community) and subscribing to our newsletters. They share with others, to help build awareness, understanding, support, and momentum for collective change. You can also step in as a caring adult for a child impacted by CDV or to bring awareness to your own local community to start with.
MLKs vision and its key take-away for you
Martin Luther King Jr. espoused the ideals of setting past wrongs right and aspiring to positive change without violence. He showed that empowerment does not come from power over others through violence or coercion but that true power comes from understanding and cumulative and collective change, which is more meaningful and long lasting.
As a child you may have been powerless to control the violence in your home. But take this MLK day and everyday to realize you are more than you know. You not only have the ability to initiate positive change and realize your full potential, but also the innate strength and compassion to also help others realize and attain what you now know.
Dreams and aspirations are an important catalyst. Action is just as important. Starting today, you can begin to live your dream, one step at a time without violence or fear, with compassion, passion, and courage.