World Book Day is an awareness event to encourage children to read. It’s also as good a day if you grew up with Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) to do some reading. You’re an adult now, but that child inside you still bears a mark on you.  This childhood trauma is still impacting your adult life and as hard as it may be, revisiting your memories of childhood, and seeking out a new perspective may be the start to redefine what you know and don’t know about what CDV is and what it means to you.

Guest blogger, Janani, found a path to healing by reading one specific book about CDV

Janani found power in reading, especially one specific book about CDV called Invincible, written by the founder of Childhood Domestic Violence Association. Her knowledge has helped her reshape her life after CDV and is even making some strides into improving her life with those she grew up with.  She wants to share her personal story as well as thoughts about the book Invincible, this World Book Day.

The book is written for adults that grew up with childhood domestic violence and challenges their perception about the life they lived as a child and their adult life now. It provides the knowledge to break through the negative barriers impeding their adult lives, all heavily influenced by growing up with domestic violence.

Janani’s childhood bears all the marks of CDV laid out in the book

She is the poster child/adult of what the book uncovers – the LIES of CDV. She experienced all of the feelings throughout her childhood:



Although her path continues to be challenging, and these lies can still creep into your daily feelings and experiences, and more so for the culture she lives in as a woman, she is learning the power of knowledge through reading. As an adult, she discovered, it is never too late to take back your adult life after being deprived of an unhappy childhood living with domestic violence.

She shares the frustrations of not understanding how to express her feelings or not even knowing how to label or call out what she was feeling. This is incredibly common for people that grow up with CDV and why there is only a 10% awareness of it, even though it is considered a major childhood trauma.

And at long last, Janani is able to contrast the LIES of CDV with their corresponding truths like a champion. She has:

  • Turned her belief system on its head
  • Evolved mentally and behaviorally after reading the book
  • Discovered that she does not only have to strive for success as a means of escaping her childhood,

But can achieve whatever success in all areas of her life she wants, by choice.

If you grew up with CDV, maybe you don’t deserve to live the life you are meant to have 

     Janani’s email about the book Invincible 

I hope you have been well. I have been reading the book and just wanted to say how very grateful I am that this organization / resource exists. After a lifetime of fighting/hoping for a “normal”/stable life, I was just starting to feel like maybe people from my background don’t ever get to enjoy the kind of life that others may.

After a recent relationship breakdown, I knew I had to work on some issues which stemmed from growing up with violence and tried to seek help because I was all out of ways to do this on my own. I figured trained professionals would be a good option but could never find someone who understood what I was trying to describe. One even told me that it’s just life and genetics causes our actions and reactions and that cannot be changed but I can have medication, so I don’t feel how I do.

I got so frustrated that no one could understand what I was saying or feeling and had just about convinced myself that there was no point achieving things in other areas of my life if I couldn’t address the emotional side which was most important to me.

I figured that not being in jail or on drugs was a victory enough and maybe it was unrealistic to want more out of my life.

     The last stab at self-discovery and the breakthrough – via a book       

I thought that since I was willing to give up (on trying to have a better life – no risk of self-harm here), I may as well make one more attempt to google for help and was overjoyed to find It was the first time in all the years of researching that I found something for adults, so relatable and easy to process.

I’m not one to shed a tear but just reading the first few pages made me cry – for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was alone in this world with this issue. The book has provided me with hope and a belief that I don’t just have to settle for basic needs of safety / food, am not “damaged goods” and can in fact have a life with positive, wholesome relationships.

Defining CDV and trying to help others understand it, hindered Janani’s ability to find help

This is what CDV does to a developing brain.  It instils one lie after another.  It makes one believe that they don’t have potential to live a better life. Or that they are ‘damaged goods’. Janani also realized how CDV was impacting her relationships due to the trust LIES that she grew up with.

And on top of that, professionals didn’t even understand how to diagnose Janani’s feelings. So many that grow up with CDV think that their life is good enough if they escape jail and addiction!

It was at this point that Janani discovered the power of the book Invincible, written by adults that experienced CDV.

Adults that grew up with domestic violence are painted as victims

I had spent much of my late 20s and early 30s researching the causes of domestic violence and the impact on people. There was plenty of information out there for children, but I could never find anything relating to impacts in adulthood that didn’t paint one out to be a victim. I didn’t feel like a victim. I just didn’t know how to “fix” the parts of my emotional processing that seemed “broken”.

Everything I found and read discussed things like how children from DV homes end up having issues with crime, substance abuse, depression, anxiety etc. I didn’t actually feel as though any of this was me.

However, the more I read into it, the more I thought “hmm… maybe I do have depression and just don’t know because I don’t really process emotions well”. So, I thought, why not, let’s go see a professional. Except, it didn’t help. It was worse. I found myself almost convinced that I had depression and needed medication.

But in my heart, I knew that was not true. There were many things in my life I loved, too many things in fact. Many people in my life I loved and who loved me. They were patient enough to deal with my unwillingness to open up too much and would patiently chip away at me anyway. I was very lucky. It was just relationships that I found challenging. I didn’t think medication was the solution that these “trained professionals” insisted upon.

I didn’t know I needed to flip the coin

It was clear they didn’t understand CDV and how it impacted adults. How could they? Unless you have been in that situation, I didn’t think it was possible to really understand. We are not victims. I strongly believe that there’s just some parts of my brain that aren’t developed – I remember reading something along these lines a few years back. So how would medication help that? I just wanted a way to work around that.

Coming across and reading the book made so many things align. The chapter titles exactly outlined the feelings I had and it made me realize that each of the negative feelings I had would be the cause of a positive one. I was just looking at the wrong side of the coin. Or rather, perhaps, I just didn’t know that I needed to flip the coin over. That’s all I needed to do. Simple.

The stories shared in the book were 100% relatable. The feelings shared 100% relatable. The conditions and specific scenarios may be different, but the feelings were the same.

The gifts given in exchange for the price we paid as children

Undiscovered gifts – perhaps something I never realized was the gift I received from being in a DV household is that I don’t get stressed over the “small stuff”. I gained a perspective of what is truly important in life at a very young age – I didn’t care that I didn’t have nice shoes, or the newest toy. What mattered was that the people in my life were safe and happy.

I was able to work incredibly well “under pressure”. Whilst my peers got stressed and crumbled, I would flourish. I never felt the stress because to me, stress is when someone I love is being hurt.

I had a drive to follow through on my goals that people from a more stable/ “normal” (whatever that is) background didn’t need to have. There was no choice but to achieve what I have said, or I’d be stuck in a place I didn’t want to be in. It meant, I didn’t get bored, I didn’t lose motivation. I always followed through.

Resilience and the gift of learning

The biggest gift of all – resilience. If things don’t go to plan, it’s ok. I know that if I could thrive in an environment that would’ve broken many, then there is nothing in this world I cannot do if I decide I want to.

I am also just so grateful for the gift of learning, enjoying every single moment in my life. Since dysfunction and violence was the norm, if we had even half a day without rage, we made sure we enjoyed it as kids. Any tiny moment without dad in the house, or if he was in a good mood, we capitalized on it.

This has blessed me with the mindset of enjoying every moment for what it is; everything while you have it; everyone while they are here. Nothing is forever, enjoy what you can while you can because any time, things can change. I don’t mean this is a “everything good will end” kind of sense – but more in terms of appreciating the temporary nature of life and making the most of what we have each day as it is very easy to spend a lifetime complaining about deficits instead.

Janani shares how she transformed the LIES to TRUTHS in her life from the book, Invincible


This is what was needed to know. I had never thought about the concept of “underserved guilt”. As far as I was concerned, I was born, it ruined things. But the book challenged this view and made me realize being born was not my fault. I didn’t ask for it. So, I had nothing to be guilty about. It wasn’t my fault that someone couldn’t handle their own feelings. The guilt of not being able to stop a beating, or wondering what I could have done. That’s not my problem. I was never my responsibility. I didn’t need to fix anything. The fact that I even tried at all was a bonus.

This chapter was liberating. It made me realize that it was ok for me to say “enough”. I’m moving on with my life, you can come along with me on my terms, leaving your drama behind or not at all. It instigated a conversation with my parents where I told them I didn’t want to hear about the issues they had with each other.

     Helping my dad learn from the book too

They had options. Leave each other, or live in peace. Make peace with each other – because, quite frankly, I don’t think anyone would have the patience for either of them. At this point, 40 years on, they were both as responsible for everything as each other.

Fortunately, all that pretending to like my father, resulted in me learning a lot about him. He too grew up in a DV household. In fact, much worse than mine. I used to find him crying in the bathroom after he had beaten my brothers and he would tell me how guilty he felt and how he didn’t know why he did it. He was a grown man with a tormented child trapped inside.

Sharing the stories in this book, and the things discussed helped me help him too. I know I didn’t need to, but I could.


Once again, it had never occurred to me that hating someone only ruins my life and my health. They carry on living theirs completely unaffected by how you feel about them.

Marina’s story in the book, Invincible, resonated with me. I hated my father for many years, but, I began to wonder what drove him to do what he did. As mentioned before, this uncovered things about his life that made it hard not to feel sympathy for him. He was neglected and abused. Unlike me, he did not have a sibling who cared about him.

He was truly alone. At least I had an incredibly caring and loving brother. How could I have expected a man who had never been loved, to love? It made me realize that I didn’t need to carry so much baggage from the past. I didn’t serve any purpose.

Over the past year, whenever my father has done or said something to my mother, instead of meeting his behavior with aggression, I have learned to ask him in the moment why. He, like me, doesn’t have a brain that developed with an ability to process emotions properly. But I’m lucky to have been born in an era where information is so easily available and was able to learn this.

     The life we never knew

He wasn’t. He had to wait until his late 60s to learn this. As I have these conversations with him, my mother has also learned things about my father’s life she never knew. They were an arranged marriage. The only thing their families looked at was “what job or degree does he have”. People from my culture seem to think that being a doctor or engineer makes someone “a good person”.

When my father talks about his feelings, we often get to the root being something from a childhood incident. As my mother, who comes from a very civilized, stable family hears this, she has also started to forgive him for what he has done, as she realizes that there is no way he could have known to love if that’s how he was treated too.

The overall conversion of resentment which was holding us all back from progressing to having compassion for each other has made our lives much more fulfilling.


This was by far the best bit. I always thought that not being allowed to be a child robbed me of the opportunity to learn to build close friendships. I had blamed this for the fact that I don’t let people close. There was a short phase that I retaliated at my mother too, blaming her for not leaving my father thinking I could have had a better chance of more normal social connections if she had done that.

I said some pretty terrible things to her – it did not feel good. It compounded the sadness because, now, on top of my original sadness, I felt worse for behaving exactly like my father. Reading “the lies, the why and the truth” around this forced me to sit and think about what I could be grateful for. What good came out of my mum not leaving?

     I found many things to be grateful for

As I did this, the list was endless – I am grateful she didn’t leave because it gave me an opportunity to be independent; to value people over things; the confidence that I can do anything I want to do because that didn’t break me; education which was only possible because my dad could fund it; exposure to the construction industry as a child which made me excel in my career – something that I wouldn’t have had without him; my health and fitness – wanting to be strong enough to protect myself and my family made me focus on my physical health and fitness.

I have no fear of the outside world because my dad was irresponsibly adventurous and loved nature. He dragged us into jungles, to remote situations with no supplies. It forced us to learn to survive without the usual comforts. I am grateful for this because:

I know that we don’t need much to live. And I have reduced stress as I don’t feel the need to pursue unnecessary material things that my peers seem to think is essential;

I know I can survive. The confidence that came from constantly being put in “almost going to die” scenarios is irreplaceable. I learned that we are the only obstacle to our own progress in life.

     Surviving versus thriving

There is always a way to get by – the difference between surviving and thriving is perspective shift. This is a lesson I think I would not have learned without all those trips that only my father would’ve subjected us to. My mother was sheltered and well catered for in her youth. So, when faced with a difficult situation, she had no confidence that she would be able to stand on her own feet or cater for us.

She did not want this for me and hence stayed to ensure that I had a chance to build that confidence. Sure, mum would be beaten if we cried or were scared, but, at the end of the day, no one can take away the confidence I now have because of this.


Finally someone who understood my feelings around connection (or lack of). I was always “popular” at school, I had plenty of “friends”. But never anyone that felt like true friends. It wasn’t from a lack of them trying, but my pushing away or not sharing too much.

I never wanted them in my home because they may judge me for the kind of background I came from. There’s only so long you can keep people at arm’s length before they think maybe you don’t like them. Reading this chapter made me feel safer about being more open with my friends. In those moments when we have random discussions about childhood memories, I felt like maybe it was ok to talk about some of mine. Not to complain, but to just share since they asked.

To my surprise, they responded with “oh my gosh that makes so much sense”. They pointed out things both good and bad that could be explained by the background. It started a good conversation and phase of reflection that only enriched my life. This day I knew that most people were inherently nice, and after an initial filtering process, it was ok to trust a few good souls.


A feeling I was very familiar with from a very young age. I learned that if things didn’t go quite how I want, just get angry, have a tantrum, people will eventually cave and you get your way. Alas, this is not how life works. I was fortunate that this did not go on for long, and I had good people around me to snap me back into line – particularly my brother who would always call out such behavior.

    A new path taken to teach children

I had never realized, this, but my anger about the way my mum (and hence my brothers and me) were treated because of her lack of education fueled a passion for educating others. Although I was an engineer, I always had a burning desire to teach. I wanted to help as many children from DV scenarios have tools to help them break the cycle.

It drove me to become a teacher. I thrive with students who others label as unteachable, or not worth teaching. Nor do I have issues with the “difficult” kids because I know that there is so much more behind the scenes that drives their behavior. I know I make a difference to them – because they say so, or they have a parent or career that says so.

My childhood experience has also taught me that not all kids who do well academically have happy homes. I always make sure every child, no matter what, feels safe and cared for in my class. This has allowed me to contribute to their lives in a way that I don’t think I would have been able to without my DV background. For this, I am grateful to have come from where I have. There is no more anger. Just a passion to do what I can to enable others to have the life they want.

Perspective and transformation through the book, Invincible

I never got to Chapter 7 in the book – but it’s because I haven’t felt the need to read any further. My life is transformed. I feel so blessed to have had my childhood. Every single moment of it contributed to a life I would not trade for anything.

I understand that my mother did the best she could with what she knew. My father did the best he could given where he came from. I feel eternally grateful to have had love of my brother even amongst all the chaos. I am grateful that the perpetrator of so much heartache was willing to sit and listen and talk about things and acknowledge that things needed to change. This book helped put words to how I felt and provided strategies to view things from a different perspective.

I no longer think of my childhood as embarrassing – just character building. Anyway, kids are more resilient than adults, so I’m glad I experienced that then, than now.