New toolkit for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Life has been chaotic and scary for 8-year-old Tonya.

Her father has abused her mother for years, and Tonya never knows when things will get bad. Finally, a beating pushes Claire, Tonya’s mother, over the edge.

Claire waits for her husband to leave for his night job. Then, at nearly one o’clock in the morning, she gets Tonya out of bed. Without bothering to pack, the two race outside to a waiting cab, which takes them to the Inn Transition South, a women’s shelter and transitional housing site in Miami.

After arriving safely at the shelter, mother and daughter are exhausted and scared. Over the next few weeks, Claire settles in, but Tonya begins to change.

She wakes up with nightmares, and she won’t interact with the other children at the shelter. Claire worries that Tonya is blaming herself for the violence they have experienced. She longs to see her daughter’s beautiful smile again.

This scenario, one of a participant of a former Safe Start grantee program in Miami, is one of many examples of how exposure to domestic violence can harm a child. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that 15.5 million children in the U.S. lived in families in which violence between partners occurred at least once in the previous year and seven million children lived in families in which severe partner violence occurred.

As with other types of violence, exposure to domestic violence can negatively impact a child’s physical, mental and emotional development. And exposure to one type of violence increases a child’s risk of being exposed to other forms of violence.

Today, in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we released the Safe Start Center Toolkit for Family Advocates, a collection of resources for parents, extended family members, and other professionals interacting with vulnerable families who wish to learn more about the prevalence and negative consequences of children’s exposure to domestic violence and learn ways to be helpful.

Similar to the CEV in the School toolkit released last month, this domestic violence focused toolkit includes a new issue brief for agencies and shelters, a collaborative effort with Futures Without Violence and the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. Also included is a new, engaging infographic with fast facts and tips about children and domestic violence.

When everyone is informed and works together, a child who has been exposed to violence can find the help they need to cope.

Questions? Comments? Be sure to join us Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. on Twitter as we host another #CEVchat, this time related to children, domestic violence and the new toolkit. Let us know if you’re planning to stop in: http://cevchat.eventbrite.com

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