Q:

How have your kids been affected?

With all the violence that you grew up with and the beatings you got from different men, how have your kids been affected? What sort of relationships do you have with them now?


A:

My children have grown up with different effects from the life they had with me and my partners during the time I was in abusive relationships. We now know that a child cannot witness or experience family violence in any form without it having an effect to some degree. How that will come out in the child varies from child to child and in my children's cases each one was different. My son internalised the abuse that he witnessed as well as the abuse he endured at the hands of his father and became addicted to substances. He chose not to violate women even though he had witnessed this firsthand. He did not speak out or up and never talked of his hurt or pain and the abuse he saw and experienced himself. He in turn chose to indulge in substances to ease his pain.

My daughters however were different. One was very angry at me and stayed that way for years and years and years and she became a women very much in control of her life and became incredibly strong willed. She would not put up with any sort of abuse and was able to keep herself safe in that respect. This did not always make her a woman who you could warm to easily and she had created a front for her that was not easy to penetrate. Another daughter got into relationships similar to that she saw her mother in and unfortunately was not able to speak up about the abuse and chose to ignore it or minimise it. She would not share what was happening and would not ask for help. It was not until she had had enough and couldn't take any more that she reached out. I have to say that because she did not have high self esteem (which in turns determines your self worth and self value) she did not believe she deserved better.

My youngest daughter did not witness any physical violence but was privy to the psychological abuse I suffered and the effects that had on me which in turn had an effect on her. She was not raised in an environment that was uplifting and empowering for her and the result was that she grew up not having a strong healthy belief in who she was. She also became a very suspicious young woman when it comes to people and does not let anyone get close to her.

As the years have gone by and I have turned my life around the consequences of that are now starting to rub off on my children. Each one of them has made some healthy positive changes in their own lives and are making better choices which is making better lives for them and their families. My son no longer takes any substances and is drug free, my daughters are in relationships that are working for them and their partners. I am happy to be able to say that there is no violence in any of their relationships, that they have learnt the value of who they are and what they deserve. They are now working on themselves and doing things to help empower them and uplift them.

My youngest daughter is slowly starting to learn to let people in (including me) and as difficult as it was for her, it feels really nice for both of us. Overall my relationships with my children are the best they have ever been and I am incredibly blessed to see the stand they are taking in their lives towards what is acceptable behaviour and what is not and what they know they deserve and what they don't. It has been a long process and because of where I'm at now I can see very clearly the effects of family violence on my children. We must always remember that whether our children experience violence firsthand or witness it there will be effects. That is a fact. We must take our children into consideration when in any relationship where there is family violence.

Jude

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