March Recognizes Family Violence and Parenting; Keeping Children Safe
March is Parenting Awareness Month. Typically, that means celebrating all things parenting; doing fun activities together as a family, working on crafts together, attending family-focused gatherings, and making happy memories. Although Covid-19 has really slowed things down in the way of gatherings and finding fun things to do about town, some families are not so fortunate when family violence is present. Family violence is a pattern of behaviors that are used to maintain power and control over a partner in an intimate relationship. Family violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender from any socioeconomic background and education level. Family violence covers a broad range of acts that can include emotional, financial, physical, and sexual abuse. Family domestic violence not only harms the victim, but also presents dangers for immediate family members. Children are frequently victims of or witnesses to violence, abuse, and other crimes, including domestic violence. (Ojp.gov) Family violence is similar to intimate partner abuse however the intimate partner is not the only victim. Here are some signs of family violence/abuse:
Emotional and psychological abuse
This kind of family violence is when a person insults, upsets, intimidates, controls or humiliates their partner or ex-partner. It includes:
This kind of family violence is any harmful or controlling physical behavior that a person uses towards their partner or ex-partner. It includes:
This kind of family violence is any unwanted sexual behavior by a person towards their partner or ex-partner. It includes:
Harassment, stalking and threats of harm
This kind of family violence is unwanted monitoring of or contact with a partner or ex-partner. It includes a person:
This kind of family violence is any controlling behavior that might restrict a partner or ex-partner’s access to money. It includes a person:
Cultural, spiritual and/or religious abuse This type of family violence is when a person stops their partner or ex-partner from practicing their religion, language or cultural activities.
Coercive control is when someone uses a range of controlling behaviors to manipulate, intimidate or trap someone in an abusive relationship. Someone experiencing coercive control is at high risk of increasing levels of physical violence, especially when they decide to leave the relationship. (raisingchildren.net.au) Many people believe that when the abuse is over, whether the parental relationship has ended or a parent is incarcerated, the family is now safe and the abuse is over. However, that is not always the case. Children, although resilient, suffer lasting effects of abuse of all kinds. Post-traumatic stress, anxiety, violence or anger towards others, and depression, are just a few of the lasting effects children may suffer from exposure to family violence. It is important to talk to your children about the abuse and let them know that it is okay to talk about their feelings of discomfort, fear, and worry. It is critical in your child’s healing process to give your child an opportunity to express their feelings and to ask questions. Talking to your children helps them feel safer. Talking can reassure them that the violence in NOT their fault. Talking to your children can teach your children that violence is not the way to solve issues, it can make children feel understood and cared for, and it can teach them that talking about their feelings is healthy and natural.
Try to find ways to build emotional resilience with your children. Talk to them, build emotional connection, boost their self-esteem, be non-judgmental in regards to their thoughts and feelings, teach them emotional control, persistence and perseverance, and work on ways to handle your stress and theirs. Find ways to bond with your child. Whether it’s videogames, music, shopping, reading books, playing with dolls, building with blocks, find a way to talk to and interact with your child. Should you find yourself in a relationship that displays any of these characteristics, the Advocacy Resource Center can offer assistance. Please contact an advocate at 906-632-1808 or visit www.arcsaulttribe.com to learn more about familial violence.
Child victims of FV/DV may demonstrate these behaviors. These behaviors are many times overlooked or mistaken for "bad behavior". Please think twice and be kind as we never truly know what someone is going through on the inside.