Take action: Change the cycle of violence

  • Published
  • By Ruth Sunde
  • 92nd Medical Group Family Advocacy Program
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For some, the month will pass with little consideration to the issue of family violence and the impact it has on all of us.

I grew up in a small town, where generation after generation, knew each other. Our homes were average, middle class houses in a time when air conditioning, although needed, was not commonplace. That lack of air conditioning and the need to open windows and doors, allowed for my first exposure to domestic violence, albeit indirectly.

I couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old when I first heard it, the yelling and screaming, the crying and pleading. I remember standing by our back door hearing the sounds and not understanding the adult circumstances that brought the family to this point. I was too young to understand why or how deeply the physical and emotional hurt would go. I remember questioning my mother about the yelling and, to be honest, I don’t remember her exact response. She would, however, motion for me to close the door, shaking her head as if her gesture would somehow make it all go away. It would be quiet for a few days and then the din of the yelling, screaming and pleading would return, and she would again avoid my questions and silently close the door.

Time went by, and like most teenagers, I slipped into my own world filled with activities, and friends, and my father’s promotions brought the welcome relief of central air conditioning to our home. Sadly though, the violence next door continued. I never asked the neighbor kids about it. I never asked if they or their mother were alright.

Knowing what I know now, I can see this family would be the textbook example of a family filled with power and control issues, with emotional and physical violence directed at anyone or anything in the home. It was well-known throughout that small community that the father had alcohol issues and could be mean and abusive when drunk or even while sober. One day, in a drunken rage, he picked up their small dog and threw him against their house, breaking the dog’s leg. Then their teen daughter showed up to gym class with long, red swollen welts across her legs and lower back from her father’s belt. This family had spun out of control while we silently closed our doors and windows.

Many years have passed since these experiences, but obviously these events have left an impact on that entire family, their future generations, the neighborhood, and ultimately, the whole community. So, this month in particular, I ask you. Do you silently close your doors to a family member, a friend or a neighbor’s plight with domestic abuse and the destruction it causes? Or do you change the cycle of violence by taking action?

The Fairchild Family Advocacy office and the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate are here to help individuals and families to identify warning signs in their relationships and learn how to engage with their loved ones in a healthier, more effective and non-violent manner. They can help stop the cycle of violence.

For more information, call Family Advocacy at (509) 247-2687 and the DAVA at (509) 247-2016 to learn how.