I am breaking my silence.
I am breaking my silence for any person who is a stepparent, and they are living in a dangerous situation at the hands of their stepchildren.
I am breaking my silence because I know what it is like to scourer the internet trying to find someone or some resource to signal that I was not alone.
So begins a post from Dr Sam Kline. You can read the rest of the post here, and there is the promise of a follow up on her site in a week or so. You will recognise many of her comments:
- The assumption that ‘step-parent abuse’ was abuse BY step-parents
- The societal messages to girls and women not to make a fuss, to keep the peace, to look after the needs of the men
- The shame and lack of expectation of help that stops people coming forward
She raises important messages to families in responding to abuse:
- The importance of parents ‘being on the same page’
- The importance of going through with plans, however hard to do
- The importance of support from friends and of being believed
And she also talks about the way that parents keep loving, even when that means loving from a distance.
We have no certainty of how many families – of every hue – experience violence and abuse from their children, and we can probably never know exactly. While parents find it difficult to come forward for help, and for all of us to talk about this, there will continue to be people who believe that they are totally alone in their experience. Thankfully, the last couple of years have seen more people speaking out, more sympathetic coverage, and a more widespread response, but we still have a long way to go. In the meantime, I draw comfort from every post such as that from Kline, not that they have had to go through the abuse, but that they have found the courage to speak out, and by doing so will have helped someone else recognise that they are not alone.
I know what it is like to come across a story on the internet and feel comfort in knowing I was not alone.
We cannot change issues if everyone remains silent.
Kline has since published Part 2 of her blog on violence from step-children. You can read it here.
My life now is radically different … But I still can’t sleep. Putting my child into care was searingly painful. I am often paralysed by recriminations, guilt and despair.
The words of a parent, writing in the Observer this last weekend, in a long, tender and heartwrenching piece about her experience of abuse and violence from her teenage son. Tom’s violent behaviour was thought to come from his acute frustration, communication difficulties and problems regulating his emotions, due to a range of diagnoses. It included actual violence to his mother and siblings, damage to property, and controlling behaviours which took over the life of the family, making a normal existence well nigh impossible. The writer, Lesley Clough, describes calling the police on numerous occasions, and the good support of local DV services, but ultimately the impossibility of finding any solution other than her son’s move out of the home and into care.
While one of the key things that sets violence and abuse from children apart from that from adult perpetrators is the emotional wrench – as described by parents – of separating from their children, it is also important to bear in mind that there may be greater hope for restored relationships, with young minds more open to change, and behaviour patterns less fixed. As we continue to learn more about the numerous links with different vulnerabilities, we see too the possibility of putting in help earlier, to mitigate the effects of early experience and of various diagnoses.
Lesley’s story was taken up as well in the Guardian podcast, Today in Focus, broadcast on Monday December 10th. Speaking with Anushka Asthana, Lesley raises the importance for families of having a strong support network, and talks about what it means when your child is given a diagnosis to explain the violence and abuse. She describes the point at which she realised the family could no longer carry on as they were, and the steps she had to take to protect all her children.
It has been so exciting and encouraging this last year to see the way the issue of children’s violence and abuse within families has been taken up by journalists. We have to hope that the noise generated will help to contribute towards a move for greater funding and provision of services for families.
Do you like your art calming and reflective, or maybe you enjoy the challenge of something complex and abstract? For thousands of years, artists have used their work to comment on the human condition, and to explore ideas of power, truth, and reality. Nevertheless, you might be thinking, “but what can art tell us about child to parent violence?”
What I like about any new way of looking at things is that the questions are slightly different, the insights often trip us up and change the direction of our thoughts, and we can be left with new questions that we hadn’t even thought of before! So I was excited to come across artist, Sophie Cero on twitter and to hear about her work exploring child and adolescent violence towards parents. Sophie kindly agreed to be interviewed for Holes in the Wall. Continue reading
I am pleased to post this guest blog from a parent who would like to be known as Sam. Sam is passionate in her campaigning to get better understanding for women who have experienced domestic abuse. She is active on twitter, and has written previously for other people, as well as managing her own blogsite. Sam has a story to tell about the impact on children of living wth domestic violence, the way in which this can be replicated by children once the abusive parent has left, and the long term effects of this for all concerned. Her contribution is also pertinent because of findings across the world of the prominence of the experience of domestic abuse as a contributory factor in child to parent violence.
I am a parent who has been subject of child to parent violence (CPV) and a woman who is domestic abuse victim. I am not a professional, but have vast lived experience of abuse. CPV obviously has a number of roots and in this post I will explain from my viewpoint one of them. Continue reading