Beth Sturman, Executive Director of Laurel House & Leslie Slingsby, Executive Director of Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, discussed the relationship between domestic abuse and child abuse during National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, October. Beth explained the services of Laurel House, offering shelter, counseling and legal services to victims of domestic abuse. Leslie described the work of Mission Kids, therapy and counseling to children and parents in situations of abuse, often referred through the courts or Children’s Services. They described how they work together, as ‘one-stop–shopping’ as the children of parents in abusive relationships suffer directly through physical or emotion abuse, or indirectly through trauma as a witness to violence and turmoil in the home and – the non-abusive parent of abused children are often victims themselves. Leslie discussed how boys and girls react differently to domestic violence and abuse, boys will present external signs, acting out and aggression, while girls will internalize the situation, assuming the blame for the acts and committing self-harm. Abuse is trauma, both can experience mental and physical health issues, including obesity, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction and early death. Beth noted that mothers present common reactions when seeking help, they want to stop the abuse and protect their children, but also they also want to protect the abusive parent and preserve his/her relationship with the children. They discussed the need to ‘stop the cycle’ – as children exposed to home violence can often become aggressors in their own relationships. Leslie described the ‘grooming’ that abusive parents often do, indoctrinating children into acceptance of abusive actions.
Finally, information about upcoming events and fundraisers, including Mission Kid’s ‘Night Out’ November 10th at the Paddock Room at Mermaid Lake and Laurel House’s Pennsylvania Philharmonic Holiday Concert.
Toll-free National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-642-3150