Letter: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By David Ewert, Cottonwood County Advocate, Southwest Crisis Center When you ask children to think about their future, how do they respond? Some answer with their favorite profession -- maybe a police officer, a professional athlete or a doctor. ...

By David Ewert, Cottonwood County Advocate, Southwest Crisis Center  

When you ask children to think about their future, how do they respond? Some answer with their favorite profession - maybe a police officer, a professional athlete or a doctor. Others might mention the family they hope to have one day, with kids and a big house for them to play in. Still other kids will talk about some amazing new technology that they hope will make their lives easier or more entertaining. A child’s imagination is a powerful and wonderful thing, but no child sees domestic violence in his or her future.

The words “domestic violence” bring a diversity of images to our minds. What mental images come to yours? Perhaps you think about a friend facing an abusive spouse. Maybe it’s a neighbor whose significant other is manipulative and controlling. Maybe you think about your own difficult experiences, and you aren’t even sure if your story qualifies as domestic abuse.

If you’re luckier than most, you may have no direct knowledge of domestic violence. When you think of domestic violence, you may picture a woman who refuses to leave her abusive partner, even though there seems to be no real reason to stay.

Whether we realize it or not, domestic violence is all too real for many in southwest Minnesota. We often make a mistake by assuming that those experiencing violence are “asking for it” because they don’t try to run away from their abusers. In fact, there are a multitude of reasons someone might not want to run away. Such reasons include but are not limited to fear of retaliation against oneself or children, financial insecurity, coercion, hopelessness, shame and a lack of knowledge of any possible options.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This year, the Southwest Crisis Center is focusing its awareness efforts on the effect that domestic violence has on the children who experience and observe it. Our aim is to educate the community to show just how serious this issue is. Children may not always experience the physical violence of the assault, but they do experience a different kind of harm.

Studies have shown that children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to experience it later in life, but they are also more likely to perpetrate violence as well. Domestic violence is emotionally damaging to children. Psychologists agree that children grow in emotional maturity by modeling their own behavior after their caretakers. When a child has witnessed inappropriate emotional behavior in an event like a domestic assault, the child is left with an emotional scar. The child is presented with an inappropriate model for emotional behavior, leaving him or her more likely to either be victimized again or to victimize someone else. The effect that domestic violence has on children goes far beyond concerns for immediate safety and continues throughout the lives of those affected.

Adult healthy relationships create models for behavior which allow the next generation to live rich, full lives. We all want our kids to have the best future possible. Why would it be any different with their relationships? If we want children to live emotionally healthy lives with lasting, strong relationships, we adults need to show the next generation that we will not tolerate domestic violence.

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