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Not in front of the children

Kids are traumatized as much as adults by domestic violence

A local organization that deals with domestic violence victims is in need of more volunteers.

The Side-by-Side Domestic Violence Response Team works with local police departments and the Camden County Women’s Center to provide community resources and support for victims of domestic violence. After a screening process and 40 hours of training, volunteers are available to victims and their children 24/7.

Victims and their children: Consider that for a moment. Children are as impacted by domestic violence – while often indirectly – as the adults in their lives.

One in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), bringing the number of victims annually to more than 10 million.

One in 15 children is also exposed to that violence each year, with 90% of them as eyewitnesses, NCADV reports. As a result, they are at serious risk for learning disabilities and long-term physical and mental-health problems, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress
disorder), according to the Office on Women’s Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Children who witness violence between parents may also be at greater risk of carrying that violence into their future adult relationships. And a parent experiencing abuse may lack the strength and knowledge to protect his or her offspring.

Here is another incredible statistic: Living with domestic violence significantly alters a child’s DNA, aging them prematurely by seven to 10 years, according to Domestic Violence Services Inc. So some kids are literally losing years in their lives.

The Side-by-Side Domestic Violence Response Team’s goals include decreasing the emotional trauma experienced by victims by providing them with an opportunity to express emotional responses to a crisis and educating them about the dynamics of the violence DomesticShelters.org is a national service that is free to the public and operated by the nonprofit Theresa’s Fund. Among its goals is treating children who have experienced domestic violence, and it maintains that a child’s best hope in treatment is to bond with other caregivers and experience caring and compassionate relationships through them.

“Caregivers and providers need to support and facilitate healthy, positive, nurturing relationships with safe adults, whether that’s the nonviolent caregiver or other family members involved with caring for the child, said Dr. Neena McConnico, director of the Child Witness to Violence Project in Boston.

“We know from our experience … that when kids are able to be grounded in these kinds of relationships, it’s the single most important indicator for them to be able to heal and thrive.”

Among ways to help, according to DomesticShelters.org, are:

● Give social support to kids affected. Keep in contact with them and help them feel recognized and valued.

● Listen to child victims, while being supportive and neutral, and establish a connection.

● Be honest. Answer a child’s questions honestly, keeping in mind that simple answers are

Other avenues for help include the Center for Family Services at (877) 922-2377,
PALS (Peace a Learned Solution) at (856) 963-5668 and the CARES (Child Abuse Research
Education and Service Institute) at (856) 566-7036.

Help kids who’ve been traumatized by domestic violence get their childhoods back.

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