We all want better for our children. Better educations, better jobs, better options, better opportunities, better lives. It’s part of our fabric as human beings. Many of us can look back over the generations that have come before us and track a steady upward trajectory of improvement from one generation to the next, some trajectories more drastic and rapid than others, but in many cases an upward trajectory nonetheless.
“That’s how I was raised and it was good enough for me” is a refrain I’ve heard several times lately. It seems benign enough. If it was good enough for me, if it was good enough for my parents, if it was good enough for my grandparents, it should be good enough for my child. But it goes against this ingrained desire to better the lot of our children. And in the context that I’ve been hearing it in, it’s down right chilling.
It isn’t good enough that you were raised getting paddled until you couldn’t sit. It isn’t good enough that Dad slapped Mom across the face when he had too much to drink or dinner wasn’t right or work sucked that day. It isn’t good enough that Mom cusses Dad out down one side and up the other in front of the children. It isn’t good enough that your Aunt routinely had to come over to spend the night because your Uncle was in one of his moods.
The cycle of domestic violence is real. It’s documented. It’s pervasive. 24 people per minute in the United States are victims of sexual assault, physical abuse, or stalking. Children who are raised in homes with physical abuse are more likely to grow up to either be abusers or victims themselves. Children whose mothers are abused by their partners are about twice as likely to be abused than children whose mothers are not abused. The research is abundant and irrefutable. And domestic violence knows no socio-economic boundaries. It’s happening in all of our neighborhoods. The good news is that there are growing and continuing efforts to break the cycle, to provide safe harbor for the victims, to treat and support both victims and abusers, and to put away the abusers who cannot or will not change their stripes. We are seeing efforts across Chatham County with a more uniform approach in our local justice system where law enforcement, prosecutors, and community providers are working more closely than ever. Each year, we add more attorneys who have been trained to assist the prosecution of Family Violence Temporary Protective Orders on a pro bono basis. The hope is that lives are saved and lives are changed and that the next generation indeed has it better.
“That’s how I was raised” isn’t good enough. Not for you. Not for your abuser. And certainly not for your child.
Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Statewide – Georgia): 800-33-HAVEN (800-334-2836)
Safe Shelter (Savannah): 912-629-8888
Women’s Resource Center (Atlanta): 404-688-9436