Children Forced to Watch, Cope With Domestic Violence
Posted November 15, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST
ZEBULON — Over the weekend, a woman in Zebulon was shot and killed in front of her three children, police say, by an ex-boyfriend. Thousands of children witness domestic violence in their homes, but how do they cope with what they have seen?
It is hard for any of us to imagine seeing our mothers beaten or killed at they hands of someone they love.
The majority of domestic violence victims do have children, so there is a good chance that these kids have witnessed violence.
Short term, it can cause children to withdraw or act out in school and at home. But the long term consequences are much more serious.
Kenneth Walker is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her three children. And his case is not that unique.
"It's a real hard, hard thing, and I think about it a lot now," said domestic violence survivor Terrie Chavis.
Chavis says she didn't wait for something like this to happen. She took her two children and left her abusive husband.
"I'm here to help and let all the women know that they don't have to take it, take the abuse. Speak up before it's too late," said Chavis.
Chavis says witnessing the abuse affected her two children.
"My son is somewhat violent, the 4-year-old. That's all he's seen," said Chavis.
"We are their role models, and they pattern what they see," said domestic violence counselor Felita Eaton.
Eaton says kids who witness violence at home sometimes grow up to be abusers or victims. Eaton coordinates support groups for kids. She says its important to communicate that violence is wrong.
"They want to talk about some of the things that they have heard. They're questioning why this is going on. A lot of times they think maybe this is the norm. This is the way things are supposed to be," said Eaton.
Chavis says now she and her children are healthier and happier
"I'm out, and I don't want to go back, and I won't go back," said Chavis.
Besides coping with the feelings about domestic violence, counselors also give kids advice about what to do if they witness violence in the home.
They tell them to run to a neighbor's house or call 911. Most of all, they tell them to get to a safe place.