It’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it’s time to shine a spotlight on childhood domestic violence. This form of abuse has been radically ignored until now. Its consequences for children can be severe, leaving permanent scars and radically changing the adult survivor, even decades later.
Covered up until relatively recently, there’s finally a lot of talk about the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children. We’re taking action at last because we know the devastating impact on our young.
But what about the children who are forced to live in a home with one parent being beaten and tormented by another? What’s the impact there?
CDV.org says that childhood domestic violence occurs “when a person grows up living in a home with domestic violence. From a childhood standpoint, 'domestic violence' is violence between parents or violence towards a parent – from a stepparent or significant other. And the violence can be physical or nonphysical, or both.”
I spoke to Brian F. Martin, CEO and founder of Childhood Domestic Violence.org, about CDV. Martin himself grew up in poverty and lived through the childhood domestic violence inflicted for years on his mother by her boyfriend. It wasn't until he was an adult that he discovered that both his mother and her boyfriend were children of CDV.
With his father in jail, the New Jersey native spent most of his childhood in this kind of life. He's now a highly successful businessman and New York Times bestselling author of "Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up with Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free."
Martin is straightforward and likes to get to the point. There are three kinds of people who emerge from a childhood of domestic violence, he says. “There are the ones that fall, the ones that are resilient and the ones who figure it out.”
Those that fall end up addicted, incarcerated, violent and often suicidal. (Martin is the first in four generations not to be incarcerated.)
The resilient adult children of CDV are the ones who do alright on the outside, can hold down jobs and appear relatively happy.