How to Disrupt the Cycle of Domestic Abuse

How to Disrupt the Cycle of Domestic Abuse

Children hide under beds or in their rooms. Teens leave for a friend’s house or blast music in their earbuds. Anything they can do to protect themselves from the violence they witness inside their homes. Each time, the trauma is building. When children are exposed to domestic violence, statistics show that they are more likely to develop behavioral problems, suffer from mental health issues, and have a higher probability of becoming abusers themselves. In this blog, we will discuss staggering statistics that must be addressed and the uplifting services that must be expanded to break the cycle of domestic violence for future generations.

What is Intergenerational Violence? 

Intergenerational cycles of violence occur when violence is passed from parent to child or sibling to sibling. According to a UNICEF article about child protection, approximately 1 in 4 children under the age of 5 live with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence. This staggering statistic reveals how imperative it support and maintain services that disrupt the cycle of domestic abuse.

Abuse takes place cyclically in four stages.

  1. Incident: the abusive act occurs
  2. Reconciliation: the abuser or victim engages in some sort of resolution
  3. Calm: both parties experience a period of calmness or tranquility between incidents
  4. Repeat: another abusive act occurs, and the cycle continues

Whether this cycle of domestic abuse is taken out on the child or the mother, the trauma still exists and poses potential risks for the child in the future.

How Can We Disrupt the Cycle?

Brian Martin, an author and survivor of childhood domestic violence, formed the Childhood Domestic Violence Association to help other child survivors reach their full potential and inspire others to do the same. His book, Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up with Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free, tells stories of adult children who have lived through childhood domestic violence. It acknowledges that the non-abusive, survivor-parent also plays a part in helping stop intergenerational violence. Mental health counseling and family therapy are options to help both parties heal.

Synergy Services has programs to help.

Children’s Advocacy Center

Children’s Advocacy Centers were designed to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which include family violence or domestic abuse. ACEs can have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration. Synergy’s CAC brings local law enforcement, prosecutors, child protective services, medical professionals, and mental health counselors all under one roof to help the child process the trauma and begin to heal. The CAC helps bring offenders to justice without further traumatization to the child, thus helping to break the cycle of domestic abuse. This video from the National Children’s Alliance demonstrates the effectiveness of the CAC model.

The Jennifer & Jamie Children’s Center

The Jennifer & Jamie Children’s Center hosts a 10-week, long-term attachment-based parenting program, which focuses on building more connected parent-child relationships after living in a home where family violence was present. Services include mental health counseling, case management, group therapy, and more to help these young children heal so they can ultimately break the cycle of domestic abuse when they grow up.  

Youth Resiliency Center

As children age, Synergy continues to promote healing through the Youth Resiliency Center. Here, services, activities, and tools are available to bring about positive change in a teenager’s life. The goal is to help teens build confidence, have positive connections, and create new experiences that help them grow into healthy, self-sufficient adults. It’s another chance to mitigate trauma and disrupt intergenerational violence.

Batterer’s Intervention Program

The nationally recognized Batterer’s Intervention Program holds domestic violence offenders accountable for their behavior and equips them with the tools they need to choose alternatives to violence. Synergy is part of BIP and conducts this program locally in the Kansas City metro area. The program, which runs 28-58 weeks depending on the lethality of offenders' actions, provides a comprehensive mental health approach to behavior change that goes well beyond traditional anger management models. This coordinated community effort helps offenders more effectively identify and dissuade destructive thought patterns.

We Need Everyone’s Help

Don’t let the cycle of domestic abuse continue. Nationwidechildrens.org says we all play a role in breaking the cycle of family violence and abuse. Society thrives when we show empathy and care for others, so practice the 3 Rs: recognize; respond; and refer.

Recognition can include taking note of any number of possible warning signs. While the following signs do not always translate to child abuse, these are the most common signals to recognize: unexplained change in behavior, irrational social or psychological mood changes, bruises, or a tendency to be closed off and isolated. If you see these and have suspicions, there are ways to respond proactively to protect the child.

You don’t have to know all the answers. All you have to do is make a call. Call our Youth Crisis hotline or our Domestic Violence hotline to speak with a 24/7 advocate to learn more, share your concerns, and help break the cycle of domestic violence to create a safe, healthy community. To learn more about Synergy or how you can partner with us to bring about change, contact us.