A Witness to Domestic Violence

The following is from a first place winner in the “No Hill for a Stepper” essay contest.

            “I was blessed with the name of Brandy De La Cruz. For starters, though I was born in Perryton, Texas, I was raised in Oklahoma. After an unexpected tragedy, I was encouraged to move to good ol’ Rotan, Texas to reside with my aunt, Aida. Being the “new kid” in this small town was a life-alternating experience. As a senior in high school, my main goals include establishing Christ-centered relationships, preventing further damage of my GPA, and pursuing a career in the medical field. My mother was the strongest woman I knew and will forever be my hero. I believe her personal experience with domestic violence will prevent me from making the mistakes she once did.”

Violent Generations

            Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. As a family, there are many precautions that can be taken to prevent these kind of incidents from happening. In this essay, I will provide my personal account of domestic violence, the negative impact violence has on children, and the effective way to prevent such violence.

I always thought my childhood was average. I had a loving mother who knew how to raise her voice when necessary, a beautiful brother that often annoyed me to an unreasonable extent, and a step-dad that was nothing but kind to two children that did not belong to him. The trouble started with a subtle raising of the voice. This progressed to yelling. It was not long until the man I called “dad” placed his hands on my angelic mother. Tears welled up in my eyes as my baby brother tried his hardest to console his older sister. This was not suppose to happen to my mom and dad. This should not have been a part of my “average” childhood. It took many years for my mother to find the courage to make a phone call to the police. This finally resolved the issue that tore my family apart. My stepfather was placed in prison and the three of us moved far away to start a knew life.

Though the man was gone, the violence left a scar on my family forever. It was apparent in my mother’s attempts to establish relationships, my brother’s frequent misbehavior, and my desperate attempts to avoid the fate my mother endured. Domestic violence can definitely alter a child. As a school-age child, it puts them at a significant risk for delinquency, substance abuse, school drop-out, and difficulties in their own relationships. Younger children often experience feelings of guilt and anxiety. This leads them to express their feelings through behavioral means. The children can become withdrawn and non-verbal. They may also experience concentration problems and sleeping difficulties.

The only way to prevent domestic violence is to avoid abusive relationships entirely. The key to refraining from these affiliations is to become familiar with the warning signs of a possible batterer. Cues are present in the subject’s personality. These may include, but are not limited to, emotional abuse, threats of violence, jealousy, and an abusive past. Though many people consider abusive relationships to contain merely physical violence, sexual abuse and psychological battering are also common elements in domestic violence. If you are in an abusive relationship, you must get out, stay out, and seek help.

Because my mother was a survivor of domestic violence, I feel it is necessary to do whatever is in my power to assist in the prevention of abusive relationships. This includes presenting my personal experience of domestic violence, showing how children are effected, and explaining how it can be prevented. Though it took a few years, my mom finally realized that her relationship was no hill for a stepper; it was easily overcame once she set her mind to it.

Published by

Carolyn Dennis-Willingham

Carolyn is the author of two published books – No Hill for a Stepper, 2001, and The Last Bordello, 2016. Her third novel, The Moonshine Thicket, is set in 1928 and is currently enduring a professional edit. When not on her laptop, she serves as a lap top for her grandchildren. She is a retired Early Childhood Specialist, a fitness boxer, artist, and a ball thrower for her ever-persistent mini Aussie. In addition to her blogging website, carolyndenniswillingham.com, you may find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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