Guest Post: My experience as a child witness of domestic violence

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By Millie Grgas

In the middle of Spring-cleaning this year, I found this old tape recording of my first trip to Paris with my mom when I was 5. Listening to that cassette reminds me of how lucky I am to have one parent who cared enough about me and my safety to leave her abuser.

My name is Millie Grgas and I am a survivor and child witness of domestic violence.

No one can tell that right off the bat, though. I am a genuinely happy and well-adjusted individual. One of the most traumatizing things about violence is that even if it is physically destructive, what lasts long after the scars on your skin fade are the emotional and psychological fractures. Those are things that I have to work on every day.

I try to emphasize that abuse is something that happened to me; it does not define me. That said, I know that it has definitely affected me and my outlook on life. I know that it has certainly affected my relationship with the opposite gender.

I grew up always referring to my abuser as “stupid,” never by his actual name. The thought of calling him dad or even “my father” just didn’t feel right. My mom and grandparents never tried to change the way I referred to him, because as they were told by my court-mandated therapists, it was a normal reaction. Not necessarily a healthy one, looking back on it, but these family-therapy sessions were pretty new technologies back when VAWA was just in its beginning phases in creating resources for women. (Childhood trauma was still a burgeoning field of practice.)

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Guest post: Join the Movement to Promote Children’s Mental Health

By Joy Spencer, Policy and Research Assistant for the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. Their website features tons of resources and information about their efforts.

The first full week in May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week!  Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is dedicated to increasing public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children’s mental health, emphasizing the importance of family and youth involvement and leadership in the mental health movement.

Children’s mental health matters. Emotional, behavioral, mental health and substance abuse needs cut across all income, educational, geographical, religious and other cultural groups.  One in five young people have one or more emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenges.  One in ten youth have challenges severe enough to impair how they function at home, school, or within the community. [1] And 80 percent of people who experience mental health or substance use challenges report onset before the age of 20.[2]

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Guest post: How to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse

By Cary Betagole
Cary is a proud supporter of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, while also proliferating information on the need for sexual harassment training in the workplace.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: you receive a phone call from your child’s school or read an alarming story about a sexual predator in the newspaper. Your next question, “could my child be a victim?” would only be justified.

Well, there are certainly steps that any parent or concerned caretaker can make to ensure that the children in their charge have a healthy upbringing. While it’s important to remember that most children experience a childhood free of sexual abuse, it’s essential to remain vigilant so as to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are never harmed by pedophiles.

In celebration of April’s designation as Sexual Assault Awareness Month or SAAM, here are a few tips on how to protect your child, or any child, from sexual abuse.

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Guest Post: The Grocery Store Dilemma

By Dr. Monique Higginbotham
Dr. Higginbotham is a pediatrician specializing in child abuse

We have all had this experience. We are in a public place and a parent is disciplining their child. As the situation escalates to a fever pitch, we wonder if we should intervene or just ‘mind our own business.’ What should we say to a parent, who has clearly lost their patience with a child?

I found myself in this very situation one evening in the grocery store. While gazing in the prepared foods case, I overheard a woman yelling. I turned around to see a woman whose face was contorted in an angry scowl. She glared at her son seated in the shopping cart. He appeared to be about 2 years old, and he gazed up at her with big, questioning eyes.

Just then she started hitting him, for what rule infraction I was not sure. Pap-pap-pap-pap-pap-pap-pap! Smacking him on his arms and legs, whatever limb she could reach. It stopped me in my tracks. “Whoa – what the – hunh? Did anyone else see that?” I thought, as I looked around at other shoppers. Surely someone else shared my concern. No one appeared to notice. People looked the other way. “Perhaps I’m over-reacting,” I thought, hoping it was an isolated incident.

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