The effects of domestic violence on children can be long lasting and perpetuates the vicious cycle of abuse into the next generation. That’s why Beaman Home Executive Director, Tracie Hodson, wants to remind community members that children who have witnessed domestic violence are more likely to experience depression, unacceptable social behaviors, anxiety, nightmares, teen dating violence and disruptions with school work. “In fact, the trauma can be very similar to when children experience abuse themselves,” Hodson explained.
Domestic violence survivor Traci Miller, agrees. “We need to be aware of the effects abuse has on our children. We don’t want them to learn love hurts or that it is okay to hit someone in anger,” she said. “Children should not live in fear and learn that being abused is normal.”
Miller encourages caring adults to talk to the children about their worries, encourage them to express their feelings and be patient and give extra hugs. Hodson adds, “The Beaman Home can help abused parents work with their children through their Outreach Center whether or not the parent is housed in the emergency shelter.”
A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association contradicted stereotypes that domestic violence is more prevalent in low-income or minority households. It showed violent incidents crossed economic lines with 28% occurring in households with annual incomes under $20,000; 30% with incomes from $20,000 to $50,000, 18% with incomes $50,000 to $75,000 and 24% with incomes of over $75,000.
Families of all races and ethnicities were also affected — 53% white, 20% African-American, 16% Latino and 11% other races. Three of every four perpetrators were male. “Our experiences show it can happen to anyone,” stated Hodson.
Family violence definitely cuts across all society’s segments and income levels and has a serious impact on children, the nationwide study indicates. Parents are such important figures in a child’s life. If a parent is endangered, that threatens a child’s well-being. They worry that if their parent is in danger, who will protect them.
The study interviewed children who had witnessed domestic violence. Three in four children saw the violence, 21 percent heard it and 3 percent saw the injuries later. The violence included beating, hitting and kicking a parent or caregiver. One in 75 cases reported the child was physically hurt during a violent attack on their abused parent. All experienced fear and anxiety, and more than half said they were afraid someone would be hurt badly. The children indicated the violence was one of their scariest experiences ever, according to the study published online April 7 in the APA journal Psychology of Violence.
The new Emergency Shelter and Outreach Center campus for domestic violence victims on North Parker Street in Warsaw will allow The Beaman Home to establish a children’s program which will enable case managers and advocates to better serve these vulnerable children as well as their parents.
Hodson noted, “Construction of the new facility is critical for our children’s programming and recreational space. Today we have self-sufficiency, job and life skills programs for adults, but our current facilities limit our services for the victimized children who represent roughly one-half of our clients annually.”
Hodson explained, “We need the community’s help raising the final 30% of fundraising for the new facility. The campaign’s final phase, the community phase, is underway and we encourage individuals, businesses, service organizations and churches to help by funding a room or furniture and equipment needed to fill the new facility.”
Those wishing to help with this project may call Hodson at 574- 372-3503 or email [email protected].