Domestic Violence Brings Damage You Can't See

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There is a solution to ending domestic violence. Thinking outside the box, an answer is imminent. Abusive behavior begins in the dynamics of a family. The logical answer is to begin at the beginning. Children are the untapped resource that will make the changes in the dynamics of the cycle of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence safe-haven is bringing a Bright Space project to help children cope with the trauma of domestic violence. Community Welcome House and the Bright Horizons Foundation For Children are partnering to bring a Bright Spaces project to Community Welcome House located in Coweta County in the state of Georgia. As a nonprofit faith based shelter that houses women and children victims of domestic violence the reality of the damage to the children is seen each day. Identifying two areas for the Bright Space, the project is set to move forward on June 11, 2010 with a partner kickoff.

The Bright Space will include an area designed for infants and toddlers using the "Great Places for Babies" initiative. The preschool and school-age area will feel like a place where children can relax, play and focus on homework and life. It will have a club house atmosphere. There will be an art studio designed to be used as part of the therapeutic process for children who have experienced trauma or crisis. Also part of the plan is a gardening space for planting, caring and then the enjoyment of eating the vegetables. A space for residents to go to sit and reflect in a calm and peaceful space will be the reflection garden with a bench, small reflection pool and a rock garden. An outdoor art center will be a shed that houses an easel and art materials. There will be an outdoor play house that will offer dramatic play materials, a small stage, a puppet theater and costumes for the children to act out scenarios. The desire of children is to be loved and accepted.

The family dynamics of children living in an abusive home is cyclical. Preteens and teens, when they begin to form dating relationships, will seek out and find the behaviors they have seen patterned in the home. Power and control or respect and love are confused in the home where domestic violence lives. In a young child the physicians and care givers often are not skilled in the area of detecting abuse unless it is obvious: sexual, broken bones, bruising. Infants born to abused women often suffer poor health. Signs can include prolonged crying and irritability, sleep disturbances and digestive problems. Toddlers and preschool children may be either aggressive or withdrawn. School aged children may have poor grades, fail in school exhibit poor social skills with general aggressiveness and outbursts of anger. They have low self esteem or are bullies. The children believe they are responsible for the victim parent's safety. This begins at a young age. Non-intimate violence by teens against others is rising at an alarming rate. Many of these young people were abused and saw abuse in their homes; done by adults. Teens from violent homes are at greater risk for suicide and homicide, delinquency, sexual promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases, drug and alcohol abuse. A project like Bright Space offer solutions to the feelings for the children. This is why this project is so important.

Children who grow up in a violent home, physical or not, need safety and stability found in a non-violent environment plus support , therapeutic intervention and education just as their victim parent does. Bringing the Bright Space to Community Welcome House is an important step in addressing the generational cycle of abuse. To find out about this important project and be a part in making it a reality, contact Linda Kirkpatrick executive director of Community Welcome House at lindakirk(at)charter(dot)net.

Child abuse and domestic violence are linked in a number of important ways. In a national survey of more than 6000 American families, 50% of men who frequently assaulted their wives also abused their children. Research suggests that between 80 to 90 percent of children are aware of the violence in their home; even if they do not see the beating they hear it. Early intervention can make a difference.

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -- Anne Frank

Safe-havens like Community Welcome House are there to help. You can reach us 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 770-304-0966; http://www.communitywelcomehouse.org. The national domestic violence hot line is 1-800-33 HAVEN (42836)

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Linda Kirkpatrick
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