Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Being A Child Of Domestic Violence Is Like A Death In Itself"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's quite obvious that how we respond to trauma is very much a factor of both the nature of the trauma and our own state of development.  Children can be especially vulnerable to trauma.  Consider a March, 2014 Washington Post article focused on the impact of domestic violence.

The article references a U.S. Justice Department sponsored study known as the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence.  The survey, completed in 2011, found that one in twelve children have witnessed a family assault.  Perhaps more compelling are the words of Dorothy Lennig quoted in the article: "Thirty years ago, we had to really convince the community that domestic violence was not  a private matter but a crime.  The next iteration of that was we had to convince people not to victim blame.  And now I feel we're moving into the next phase of really understanding the impact on the kids."  When you subtract approximately thirty years from the year 2011 you reach the year in which I nearly lost my own father to domestic violence.

The redefinition of domestic violence as something larger than a private matter will most assuredly change how it is dealt with now and how the children of the present will fare as they entire their adulthood in the coming years.  Yet it will likely be difficult to know the full consequences of such a significant change in policy for decades.  As of the time of this article's appearance in 2011 five states considered the commission of domestic violence in front of children to be a separate crime. Unfortunately the quantification of the effectiveness of such laws to provide additional protections to children is still a very new thing.  It will take some time to understand the consequences of this change in policy.

I find the article I have referenced above a fairly well balanced one.  It presents both the horror of the impacts of domestic violence as well as evidence that healing is nonetheless possible.  Trauma and catastrophic loss do not have to define our future lives.


I spent part of my day preparing for an intake appointment I have tomorrow morning.  I will be traveling to Abbott Northwestern Hospital to meet with a nurse regarding the possibility of entering the adult partial hospitalization program.  I completed this program in late 2013.  It might be time for me to experience a reprise of it.

Recalling that important time in my life from over fourteen months ago prompted me to ponder just how much my health has improved in the intervening time.  For those of you who have followed my writings over time you might remember that I focused on the idea of Complex PTSD this past summer.  I decided to use six criteria associated with this version of PTSD to review my progress.  My assessment of my progress appears below.  I first list the exact words noted with each criteria as they appear on a section of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.  Underneath these words appear my own commentary regarding my own progression.  I was pleased to note that I see improvement as measured by all six criteria.

Emotional Regulation. May include persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or inhibited anger. – My anger issues have waned.  The anger I once carried is no longer inhibited.  My primary challenge now is dealing with the sadness I feel.  Sadness, in my experience, is a much less volatile affective state to be caught in.

Consciousness. Includes forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes in which one feels detached from one's mental processes or body (dissociation). – My deeply learned coping skill of dissociation is not something I regularly engage in any more.  The new focus I now have is cultivating awareness and paying attention to when my intuition tells me I may be entering an undermining or harmful environment.

Self-Perception. May include helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings. – My self-perception is much healthier than it was.  Of the types of experience listed I can most identify with some measure of feeling helpless.  I feel disappointment that my career is not really developing as I had first hoped and planned.

Distorted Perceptions of the Perpetrator. Examples include attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, or preoccupied with revenge. – I no longer frequently engage in disempowering thoughts in which I give away my power to past perpetrators.  The best example of that is my decision to cut my paternal family of origin out of my life.  I no longer project a lot of responsibility onto my father.  I see him quite clearly as the flawed man that he is.

Relations with Others. Examples include isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer. – I still have challenges with cultivating trust but it’s better than it once was.  I don’t self-isolate as much as I once did.  And I don’t seek out someone to rescue me from my troubles…I learned that lesson the hard way!

One's System of Meanings. May include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair. – I am still struggling with my sense of what the possibilities for my future are but my faith that there are good people out there who will help me remains strong.

Trauma need not ruin our lives.

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!