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How do you know if you are a child of domestic violence?
Don’t be surprised if you’re not quite sure, or if your mind attempts to discount any “trouble” you may have experienced at home while growing up. Unfortunately, few people are aware of the impact on life that growing up with domestic violence can have.
Answering this question honestly for yourself, however, puts you on a path that can set you free from the lies you learned as a child of domestic violence.
I encourage you to consider this: Did you, at any given time, live in a household where at least one the people you loved lashed out at the other, or at you, either physically or non-physically? Did you endure a threat of violence or suffer sleepless nights and wary days because you never knew when a sudden storm of hostility might strike between the adults in your home? Did you regularly or constantly live with fear because of these and other tactics?
If you answered yes to either of the above questions, then you are a child of domestic violence—along with hundreds of thousands of other people worldwide.
As you may know, I too am a child of domestic violence and, like so many of us, grew up assuming my experiences were normal and that my emotions were normal. I also knew better than to talk about it with anyone.
As I grew up, I asked myself if a childhood filled with violence could be transformed into one filled with strength, love and freedom. As the answer began to present itself, I discovered an empowering truth: those who have suffered childhood violence possess an innate resilience, fortitude and capacity for achievement, not in spite of what we experienced, but because of it.
Simple Thoughts to Help Overcome Growing Up with Domestic Violence
If you grew up in a home with domestic violence, your basic needs were not met the needs to feel safe, to feel loved and to feel important. You felt a pain that is unique to those who, at the most vulnerable point in their lives, have seen someone they love hurting family members over and over again and be powerless to stop it. All the while knowing the abuser would hurt your family again.
Below are three things you can be proud to know about yourself:
You Overcame Obstacles. As a child, you survived difficulties that most people will never have to face. You overcame obstacles on a daily basis that most cannot even comprehend. And yet, here you are today. You are alive. By living through what you did and coming out of it, you are incredibly accomplished.
You Are Accomplished. People who grow up living with domestic violence are six times more likely to commit suicide. Since you are here reading this today, you are accomplished. Those who grow up living with domestic violence are also 50 times more likely to suffer from addiction. If you are not addicted to drugs or alcohol beyond repair, you are accomplished. Ninety percent of prisoners in the correctional system today were once children of domestic violence. If you are not in jail, making yourself one of these statistics, you are accomplished.
No Obstacle Can Compare. You endured this when you were most vulnerable. You paid this price early in life, but now have the reward of knowing that no obstacle you will face in adulthood can compare to what you have already conquered. Your life has been so fire tested that you are now invincible.
You are now equipped with vast inner reserves of strength, resilience and courage. These hidden gifts can be used to overcome whatever obstacle may come your way, and achieve whatever outcome you wish.
The truth is, no obstacle you will ever face can compare to what you went through as a child and have already conquered.
Editor's Note:Brian F. Martin, is the founder and CEO of the Childhood Domestic Violence Association and author of Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence and the Truths to Set You Free.
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