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Focusing on Domestic Violence's Secondary Victims


According to the victim compensation and government claims board, 33 million adults in the country admit to being a victim of domestic violence.

"There’s three cycles - The abuser, the victim and the innocent bystanders. The innocent bystanders are the ones that go through it with you that see and hear the verbal and physical abuse," domestic violence victim Angela Snell said.

Those innocent bystanders are most often children.

"Children who live in homes where domestic violence is the norm, they have such a skewed mentality of what's right and what's wrong. Children who are at the scene, those children need to have their voices heard. They need to be able to process this, find a safe place they can go. They need to identify support people," Sherryl Walker with the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center said.

The Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center aims to educate first responders, professionals and the community on how domestic violence affects kids and how to see the warning signs.

"We can't continue to push it under the rug we have to speak out and offer more classes," Snell said.

According to the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center, children living in a home with domestic violence are more likely to be abused.

"Many times you'll see a family that has abuse in it for the children and the mother will maybe intervene or the child will try to intervene for the mom," Walker said.

The U.S. Government's Child Welfare Information Gateway has done studies that show child witnesses are more aggressive, fearful and more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

That's why communication and support is key.

"Help them understand if they're in a home where people are hollering and screaming and they feel scared, they just need to talk about it. Sometimes the adults don't understand what they're doing to their children," Snell said.

Understanding the issue is the first step to stopping domestic violence.

The Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center gets a family violence prevention grant yearly.

They use these funds for workshops and domestic violence counseling for children.


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