Domestic violence affects all cultures, socio-economic levels, educational levels and age groups. One-quarter to one-third of women have been affected by domestic violence, so whether you’re aware of it or not, chances are you already know a battered woman.
Domestic violence is an issue of power and control. Batterers control their victims — both the mother and the children — through verbal abuse, physical abuse, threats, abusing their pets, unpredictable behavior and blame.
The children experience both immediate and long-lasting effects on their self-esteem, their sense of safety and in their future relationships. They grow up learning that violent behavior is a means of interacting with and controlling others, and thus the cycle of violence is perpetuated. Recent statistics tell us that children exposed to domestic violence are:
- 6 times more likely to commit suicide
- 24 times more likely to be sexually assaulted
- 60 times more likely to engage in delinquent behavior as adults
- 1,000 times more likely to become abusers themselves
Studies have also shown that 85-95% of men who batter learned this behavior in childhood by watching their mothers being battered or by being the victims themselves. But children can also UN-learn these behaviors – which is the SOLUTION to domestic violence. At Good Shepherd Shelter, the children’s experience of violence is validated but they also learn coping skills and new behaviors that are healthy and violence free. Most importantly, they learn that, with these new skills, they can choose to end this destructive legacy.
We feel that our program offers the best approach to ENDING the GENERATIONAL cycle of violence. Our goal is to give these children alternative means of interacting and negotiating to get what they want while respecting the needs and dignity of others. This takes time but it is worth the effort as we see 96% of the families who complete our program are living violence-free.