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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE DEVELOPING BRAIN

***PLEASE note I am NOT a professional writer so yes mistakes will be made LOL***

Right now Christmas time for me is an EXCITING time of the year however it hasn’t always been this way and for A LOT of people it’s a horrible time of year.

When I was living in a domestic violent relationship I hated Christmas holidays because I knew it was 4 weeks of HELL!!! There are SO many kids right now who won’t have a HAPPY holiday, it will be a holiday fuelled with anxiety, panic attacks, beatings, abuse and just a miserable time in their lives.

Today I felt the need to write this blog in the lead up to Christmas and reach those that need it most.

I’ve got 5 kids…

My first two kids were born in a NON Domestic Violent relationship, Josh and Tahlia had not witnessed violence until I met my violent boyfriend when Tahlia was 4 months old and Josh 3 years old. Tahlia was the BEST baby and I had no problems with her sleeping etc, she was such a content baby. Up until these ages both were meeting their milestones and I was a GREAT mum, taking my first baby to school and then TAFE when my second baby was born.

I find myself homeless and meet a man in a nightclub.

From this time onwards my two kids witness domestic violence for the first time in their lives. Josh is academically reaching his milestones and was even sent to a school for ‘gifted’ children and Tahlia started school aged 4 however she was above average in her class.

The domestic violence starts taking a toll on Josh around the year 4 mark (aged 8 years) and he starts to have problems such as not concentrating at school and just not coping, he wasn’t naughty he was just sad (and he was NEVER abusive toward me).

Tahlia went into a shell and was a very quiet and silent achiever.

I end up having a baby with my abusive boyfriend and the baby was introduced to violence well and truly before he was even born. I was beaten at 8 months pregnant to the point of having the police and ambulance turn up, I was beaten a day after giving birth and my son josh had to pick me up from the floor, I was beaten and kicked to the ground a few weeks after the baby was born and Josh had to jump on my abusers back to stop him from bashing his mummy, this was our NEW life, I had never EVER experienced such a violent man in my life… Our life now consisted of abuse, police, health nurses, psychiatric hospitals, suicidal threats, psychologists, DHS, you name it this was our NEW life.

My baby was born and was the HARDEST baby to settle, cried ALL night every night, screamed if I left him at day-care the whole time he went to day-care nothing could settle him, I could NEVER take him to a shopping centre because WHOA he had out of control tantrums, when he started school his behaviour was out of control, he was nearly expelled in year 5, not allowed to go on the year 5 Canberra camp in year 5 due to his behaviour, in year 6 he was at a year 3 level, in year 7 he was at a year 5 level, he ended up leaving school in year 8 because he couldn’t cope with the school curriculum, I have never EVER had a month of no issues with my son.

When I left my domestic violent partner Josh and Tahlia NEVER had to go back again because THANK GOD he was not their father, on the other hand my other son was court ordered to continue to go back to his dad’s every second weekend until he was 11 years old when DHS forced me to get an intervention order that my son was not allowed to go back to his dad’s house due to abuse (yes MANY years I was trying to tell DHS his dad was too violent and shouldn’t have access to our son unless it was supervised, however it wasn’t until my son wanted to commit suicide if he had to go to his dads again that they listened).

So Tahlia ends up being violence FREE since the age of 6, I remove Josh from domestic violence at the age of 10 however he runs away from home at a young age and goes to live with my dad, my younger son was 4 when I eventually left domestic violence and here are the interesting facts.

Josh- Has gone through MANY issues drugs, police, etc is now the most AMAZING 21 year old a mother could ask for; SO grateful SO VERY VERY grateful, so kind, so caring, and just so bloody full of wisdom and the hardest worker that goes over and beyond for every employer that has taken him on and I know this because his bosses always tell me what an AMAZING guy he is.

Tahlia- completes year 12, NEVER touched drugs, doesn’t drink, ALWAYS had a part time job, competing in Cheer Leading and the most AMAZING daughter one could ask for; seriously she has been the EASIEST child I have had, no exaggeration, I honestly don’t ever remember having to ground her or yell at her, she has been a gift sent from god!! Oh and WON the DUX award in year 12!!!

My son born to a violent dad- he is now 15 and is verbally abusive, I can’t explain his behaviour at times because in all my 5 children I have not experienced the behaviour I experience with him. He is a beautiful boy however it is a non-stop cycle of trying and trying and trying to keep him on a positive track; it is draining and very tiresome. My close family and friends who know what my life is like with him have often asked me how I manage to stay on top of things with a child like him. If you have never lived in DV you won’t understand and if you have you will understand EXACTLY what I am saying. My son absolutely LOVES his dad however will not stay overnight due to his anxiety and panic attacks that he experiences when he is at his house, he speaks to him often however it is just full of abuse and anger. My ex’s own mum and sister have had to get restraining orders out on him because he is so abusive and violent toward them however my son loves his dad so I can’t get involved in their relationship! It’s extremely frustrating because I do so much work with my son and help him and then it’s just a vicious cycle of him not quite understanding what is happening to his brain every time he takes himself back to the anger and abuse.

Since separating from my first boyfriend who is NOT abusive at all; Josh and Tahlia’s dad I have had NO issues, never ever had police involved, I had never even heard of intervention orders or DHS until I met my second violent partner and now I have a LIFETIME restraining order on him, I have had to call the police a few times because now I am dealing with his son who is showing signs of repeating his dads behaviour, my first boyfriend who is the nicest guy has been physically abused by the abusive ex and even Dave who is the MOST beautiful soul was beaten by him and my kids had to run to a neighbour to call the police!!

So I then have two more babies to my most beautiful partner of 11 years Dave (who I am marrying next year), OMG we are the most spectacular couple if I do say so myself LOL… So our two little beauties were born into a loving relationship, NO abuse, NO anger, a safe, loving environment and I receive their end of year reports.

Toby aged 7- he is currently in year 1 however he is academically in all subjects in year 2

Renee aged 6- Is currently in prep and academically reaching year 1

Both sleep all night, no issues, NEVER had one call to the school for their behaviour, they both have their moments of being cheeky but nothing like what I have experienced with my son who I had in DV.

So I have proof in the pudding that DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EFFECTS THE DEVELOPING BRAIN OF A CHILD…

This blog is to educate you right now on the Effects of Exposure to Domestic Violence on the Developing Child’s Brain, because I have the evidence that it REALLY does effect the developing brain!!

Abuse Brain

Where to from here…

Trauma and Children

Experiences of elevated, prolonged stress or trauma rock the very core of children and young people. In these circumstances, children are overwhelmed with the internal reactions that race through their brains and bodies. They do anything to survive, not because they want to but because they need to. They shut down their feelings. They push away memories of pain. They stop relying on relationships around them to protect them. They stop trusting and believing in others.

Even after the stressful or traumatic situation has passed, children’s brains and bodies continue to react as if the stress is continuing. They become self-protective. They spend a lot of their energy scanning their environment for threat. Their bodies act as if they are in a constant state of alarm. Their brains are endlessly vigilant.

Traumatised and stressed children and young people have little space left for learning. Their constant state of tension and arousal can leave them unable to concentrate, pay attention, retain and recall new information. Their behaviour is often challenging in the school environment. They struggle to make positive peer relationships.

The consequences of trauma on children and young people are multiple, yet they are not well understood. These children are often labelled as disruptive, defiant and poor learners at high risk of disconnecting from school.

With support, children and young people can, and do, recover from the harmful effects of trauma. To do so, however, they need adults in their lives to be understanding of and responsive to their unique needs. They cannot easily adapt and change to their environment. Their environment and the people in it must adjust to help them. These children and young people need the space to learn to be created for them by those who care for and support them.

Understanding Trauma In Children and Young People

The trauma associated with experiences of neglect, violence and relationship disruption is poisonous to the lives of children and young people. It undermines their self-confidence and eats away at their self-esteem. It can make them feel worthless and unlovable. It reinforces their vulnerability.

Traumatised children frequently do not have their feelings acknowledged. They are told that they are not feeling frightened when they really are. They are told to look happy when on the inside they are feeling worried and anxious. They are told to lie about what is going on at home. They can feel ignored. Their confusion about the violence is never clarified.

It is not surprising then that children and young people who have experienced abuse related trauma block their feelings. They do not trust their feelings. The strength of their fear, shame and sadness can overwhelm them. Eventually, they can become disconnected or seem out of touch from their feelings. When asked, they are unable to describe how they feel.

The effects of such trauma can be so encompassing that children’s development slows down. Their focus is to stay alert to the next time they will be hurt or rejected. Survival becomes uppermost in their minds. They often experience problems with learning new things, coping with new people or new situations. Anything new is often perceived as a threat to them. It is not surprising then that children and young people affected by abuse and family violence can struggle academically and socially at school. This is why often they cannot feel settled anywhere.

Trauma changes the way children and young people understand their world, the people in it, and how and where they belong. They develop distorted rules about relationships – rules that are built on mistrust, terror and betrayal. They feel out of place in their family and with their friends. They feel separate and do not always belong.

The memories of abuse are pronounced and ever present. Small reminders may cause them to relive their fear and confusion. The world itself is experienced as dangerous for abused children and young people – a place without haven or safety.

For further information and to read the rest of this article, please get onto this website ASAP http://www.childhood.org.au/resources/

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