“It took me most of my life to learn that it was not my fault for another person’s abusive behaviors”
“I can’t change the fact that I grew up living with childhood domestic violence or that I lost my two younger sisters to dating violence and homelessness. Nor can I change the fact that I perpetuated the cycle of abuse that I grew up with and stayed in a controlling and abusive marriage that caused my three sons irreparable harm. But I CAN raise childhood domestic violence (CDV) awareness and help ANYONE who grows up living in a home with childhood domestic violence. I am deeply grateful to be given the opportunity to hopefully bring more joy and love into the world” Dr. Linda Olson
I lived in constant FEAR and DENIAL for most of my life.
As a child who witnessed domestic violence, it was at a very young age that I entered an epoch of agony that would come to define my love, marriage, family, and – for far too long – my hope. The fear and shame led to profound feelings of helplessness, loss, and powerlessness, and for years I allowed the cycle of violence to continue into my own marriage, and affect the lives of my three sons.
I was continuously filled with fear and denial, and it was only after I lost my two younger sisters to violence, one to dating violence in 1996 and the other in trauma in 2011, that I finally decided to CONFRONT my own shame and fear. I realized that while I could not stop the violence between my parents, I could not stop the violence inflicted on my siblings, and I could not stop the violence between my ex and I from hurting each other and my three sons, I CAN start a movement to help BREAK THE CYCLE and stop the violence before it starts. I CAN turn my pain and suffering into hope and healing.
I finally broke my silence.
I began to share my story, meet my pain head-on, and accept healing. Through my own firsthand experiences I have discovered that it is only when we are able to SHARE THE TRUTH, SPEAK THE TRUTH, and LIVE THE TRUTH that can we heal our pain and break the cycle of domestic violence. Because as the interpersonal neurobiologist Dr. Dan Siegal states “The Truth is your friend when it comes to trauma”
It was the devastating loss of my sisters, and subsequent confrontation of my own personal pain, that ultimately led me, as the oldest of six, the mother of three grown sons, and a seasoned clinician, to examine the effects that growing up with domestic violence has on ADULT children.
Growing up with domestic violence is not a rare occurrence. Domestic violence affects 1 billion people worldwide. In fact, UNICEF calls it one of the most pervasive human-rights violations in the world today. Most of the individuals who suffer childhood domestic violence have grown up feeling utterly alone and isolated, separate from the rest of the world. Many adult children of domestic violence have been afraid to share their stories and confront their pain.
After the Ray Rice incident domestic violence has been in the news in an unprecedented way. The graphic video released in the media led to a firestorm of criticism, and concern that the issue of domestic violence has been swept under the rug far too long. Many critics shared in outcry that organizations like the NFL need to better address the issue of domestic violence. Campaigns began to be developed by the NFL to raise public awareness and engage bystanders around ending domestic violence.
The NFL is not alone.
While there have been no definitive studies on the rate of domestic violence in the NFL compared with society at large, domestic violence advocates indicate that the problem occurs in virtually every segment of society. According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, approximately one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year, while 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.
It crosses every socio-economic, ethnic, religious line that we have in our culture. It has been estimated that there are 1,300 domestic violence homicides and two million incidents of domestic violence each year. There is a huge cost in terms of medical care and lost wages, to say nothing of the trauma to the children and women involved.
What triggers such pervasive violence?
The single biggest predictor of whether a person becomes a victim or perpetrator is whether there was domestic violence in the home. Most often those who commit physical or verbal violence are emotionally scarred from childhood incidents of violence. Kids who witness physical and verbal violence suffer the same mental health consequences as those who are physically and sexually abused, and in some cases psychologically abused kids may actually fare worse. These individuals retain deep-rooted feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and they are often filled with fear and rage.
Sadly, and often tragically, it does not take much for a person in this state to be prompted to commit acts of violence. Violent behavior may occur in response to any circumstance in which they feel they have lost control. They may have experienced a financial loss, the ending of a relationship, or some other threat to their well-being that leads them to use violence as a means of control.
Fear, uncertainty, and deep shame commonly prevent adult children of domestic violence from doing the ONE thing that all research points to as the KEY step to toward reaching their full potential-sharing what happened with another. Sharing helps us understand what actually happened and its impact on us through the eyes of another person. If there is no awareness or sharing how can we truly understand what we experienced?
Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence
Two Hearts Ribbon For Hope mission is to raise Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) Awareness. My mission as a clinician, is to help this population who has fallen through the cracks. We strive fervently to restore and heal the victims of childhood violence, who as adults are SIX times more likely to commit suicide, FIFTY times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and SEVENTY- NINE times more likely to commit a violence act against another.
We aspire to revive these adult children who grow up not knowing how to trust, respect, or love themselves or others because they were never taught how to; we desire to bring healing and wholeness to these adult children who never got to know their true selves and who feel more bad than good each day and don’t even KNOW WHY, who most often don’t even BELIEVE they deserve to feel safe and loved.
In order to provide EVERYONE an opportunity to reach their full potential and heal it is imperative that we focus on this critical issue. If ending domestic violence and breaking the cycle is our goal, then we must begin by focusing on one’s experience in childhood.
As Father Richard Rohr States “If we do not transform our pain we will most assuredly transmit it onto others”
“I can’t change the fact that I grew up in a home with domestic violence and that I lost my two younger sisters to dating violence and homelessness. Nor can I change the fact that I stayed in an abusive and violent marriage and repeated the cycle of abuse that caused my three sons irreparable harm. But I CAN change and raise childhood domestic violence (CDV) awareness and help ANYONE who grows up in a home with domestic violence, divorce, or trauma heal, in memory of my two sisters and for my three sons.”
At Two Hearts Ribbon For Hope we believe we must be willing to SHARE THE TRUTH, to SPEAK THE TRUTH, and to LIVE THE TRUTH if we are truly going to end domestic violence.
By purchasing one of our awareness pendants you will be showing your commitment to END domestic violence through supporting childhood domestic violence programs. 50% of proceeds go to the Childhood Domestic Violence Association www.CDV.ORG.
Please click here to support Childhood Domestic Violence: www.cdv.org