She was a gentle woman. Long suffering, she was raised to stand firm to her commitments. Yet, twenty years of domestic violence had begun to take its toll. She had three sons and they had heard – seen – and felt the violence in their home. Spurred by a particularly violent incident, and a window of escape, she and her boys sought safe refuge at the WCA. Gripped by fear, she didn’t leave the shelter for a month and, when she did, it was with great trepidation.
Through the years of violence in her marriage, she had never been allowed to seek medical care. While in the program, a compassionate local physician provided free medical service in order to mend old wounds. She made good choices, fully participated in the program and she faced her future with promise.
During her stay at the WCA, she dissolved her marriage and came to understand the dynamics of power and control and the insidious consequences of domestic violence. She, and her sons, moved back into the community and she continued to receive community services at the WCA. On a particular weekend, the WCA received a telephone call from her. She was hurt – beaten – by one of her sons and moved back into the shelter for a period of time. As shocking, and disturbing, as this might sound, it is important to understand that children growing up in domestic violence homes, too often, normalize that behavior.
Fortunately she met a good man and remarried. And her counselor at the time, who is still with the WCA, was invited to share in the joy of her wedding day.
The moral of this story is that we must all remember that our behavior and the nature of our interactions are lessons learned for our children. Teach them love, respect and non-violence – so that we may have safe children – safe families – safe homes – and a safe community.
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