“If there is violence and/or abuse in the home, recognize it for what it really is – violence and abuse. Violence and/or abuse are present in a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary. Does everyone under the roof where you live feel safe? Does your partner feel self-empowered? Is there mutual respect in the home? When you feel irritable, are you able to talk about it with your partner? These are just a few questions that should be asked and if not answered appropriately, then it’s time to seek help.”
When loved ones return home following deployment in hard combat, the risk of domestic violence resulting from post-trauma stress is much higher without proactive treatment. The stigma of mental health challenges takes a toll on the entire family, especially children, because those who suffer from the horrific memories of war are often in denial for many reasons and refuse treatment. I know this to be true as a post WWII child who carries the emotional baggage of domestic violence to this day. My research shows evidence of an epidemic of generational post-trauma stress in literally thousands of families who live with emotional pain and toxic family relationships from one generation to the next. How can we break the cycle of abuse and emotional pain that seems to stick like bad genes in families who must learn to love all over again?
I so wish and pray that healing from post-traumatic stress (PTS) could be as simple and easy as treating a case of the measles or the flu, or even taking clear steps to avoid or cure more serious physical health challenges. But in treating PTS, it is clearly very complicated and often a life long process or journey of healing…
We know so much more and have a high level of awareness of post-traumatic stress circumstances in the 21st Century. It is up to families to break the cycle of pain by seeking pre-deployment preparation and education as a first step. Do not wait! Build a proactive plan as a family. There are excellent resources at your fingertips just by doing a search with the words “post-trauma stress.” My website includes archives of over 800 posts, articles and links, books to purchase and download to your ebook reader.
“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”
The child has fewer social supports(healthy personal relationships).
The child has fewer coping skills (language skills, intelligence, good health, and self-esteem).
I was reminded this past week of how critical it is to recognize post trauma symptoms of toddlers and young children. My sister’s grandson, Dakotah, pictured above, was exposed to toxic home circumstances as a baby and removed from the home of his mother. The young child, now 4 years old, and in the care of foster parents, is showing symptoms of post traumatic stress. He is not only living with the emotional challenges of experiencing trauma as a baby, but is purportedly living in a toxic and confusing world of figuring out where he should be and who he is…push and pull stresses. He is consistently in a unhappy and highly emotional state of mind. Acting out is becoming more frequent as he gets older.
It is often the case with foster children that the financial support connected with caring for the child gets in the way while biological parents and grandparents work toward regaining custody. The best interests and health of the child can get tied up in the “system” causing delays in returning children to loved ones and family members who later meet the requirements for a loving and nurturing home environment. My sister, the young boy’s grandmother, has been fighting for several years now to bring the child home while developing a close and loving relationship with her grandson. The foster parents are apparently under investigation for alleged child abuse and maltreatment. Consequently, my young great nephew is in the middle of emotional turmoil that can only worsen his post trauma symptoms.
I have profound empathy for the plight of this little boy, my great nephew, and so does my sister, his grandmother; since both of us know well what happens to children later in life when they carry the baggage of child abuse into adult life. I have tried to provide moral and loving support to my sister during this time with a listening ear. I wish there was more we could do to rescue this beautiful young boy and return him to his birth family. These are the heart breaking stories that happen all over America because young children are caught in the middle of dealing with cash flow incentives for foster parents and a system of justice that is overwhelmed with cases of child abuse and maltreatment.
As a reference and example, click on this Los Angeles NBC News video clip to hear the stories of foster kids caught in a system of abuse driven by greed. A lawsuit is pending surrounding a case against Rancho Cucamonga-based Interim Care Foster Family Agency, which recruited and supervised the foster parents. This news story has no direct relationship to my nephew referenced above, but does reflect the circumstances of a broken foster care system.
I wish there was some creative way or new idea that could make a difference. Feedback from my followers and reading audience would be most appreciated.
“Allow me to bottom line this for you. If you think hitting your kid with a stick until he bleeds is an acceptable form of punishment, you’re a bad parent. And, more than likely, you’re engaging in a criminal act. Your culture, race, ethnicity, and upbringing don’t matter in this instance. I don’t care where you’re from or what color you are, because when you decide to whip your 4-year-old with the branch of a tree, you are committing a crime. And I hope you face the same charges Peterson is facing.”
I welcomed the news today that Adrian Peterson was suspended without pay from the Minnesota Vikings for the entire 2014 season!
I write about the intergenerational consequences of child abuse in my book. I wrote this story of my family’s post WWII and Korean War struggles and the challenges of growing up in a toxic family culture because we were all morally injured from child abuse…a lifetime tragedy. My father suffered terribly from the trauma of extended deployment as a US Navy wartime veteran. His severe depression and anxiety can be described as showing the worst symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). My father was also beaten and abused as a child, compounding his own mental health issues. During my young life there was little or no awareness, nor protection for kids who were abused. I refer to the worst memories during my childhood as “the too terrible to remember 1950’s and early 1960’s.
““As an added tragic note, my brother didn’t mention the time in Waukegan just before he entered the Navy, that Dad hit him in the head after Jerry was confronted in front of the house by some bullies. He almost took them all on and could have cleaned up since he was so strong. Dad hit his head so hard that it swelled up and we thought he needed medical attention. But Dad was afraid to take him to the hospital. Fortunately, Jerry recovered, but it is my opinion that this incident gave him a severe concussion that needed treatment. I know one thing for sure, as a little kid it hurt me deeply to see this happen. To this day I remember the terrible incident vividly. This horrid event is an example of a man who lived by day as a highly respected war hero training boots at the US Naval Training Center; and by night Dad was a mentally ill dangerous man who kept his family in a cage as victims of extreme abuse. None of us would talk about it for fear of being beaten. The US Navy did not see it, nor probably wanted to see it. This was a man who was solely responsible for our welfare and without him we would have been poor and homeless at the time. We had no choice but to live with him and to avoid his wrath as much as possible. None of us even understood the gravity of the situation until later. Denial certainly helped us survive but all the baggage is clear.”
Please get help if you find as a parent the need to “beat and scare the hell out of your child.” By seeking treatment and support from the mental health professional community, you can stop the cycle of intergenerational child abuse, and break the cycle of emotional pain. As an abused child from a time when there was complete denial and little awareness or treatment strategies, I still live with flashbacks at the prime age of 68. My own journey of healing is a lifelong work in progress… I also firmly believe that Minnesota Vikings star, Adrian Peterson, is a good person and will be a better father in the future…
“I was easy prey…” click on highlighted website article by Ginger Kadlec… Quote from the article follows…
“He was close to my mother, he visited our family home,”Susan Crocombe recalls in an interview withSteve Harris of BBC Radio Solent’sBreakfast in Dorset 103.8 fm. “If mum was having a bad day, she would be in bed… so he had complete access to me. I actually loved him. I would have done anything for him.”
“He” was a member of Susan’s extended family who sexually abused her for years. She recalls, “Things he did became quite serious 18 months leading up to my 13th birthday,” at which point her molester began feeding his addiction by sharing her with other adults, including taking photographs of and filming her.
“I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”~Susan Crocombe
In thisBBC Radio Solent interview, Susan reflects on the sexual abuse she endured as a child and the impact the abuse had on her as a teenager and adult. She discusses issues like being groomed and says, “Who doesn’t like to feel special to get gifts, presents, be validated? For me, it was very subtle. I was very young, so I didn’t know what was happening was wrong… I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”
In my view, the above reference is absolutely the worst case scenario and tragedy connected with domestic violence and child abuse! I lived in a highly toxic home while growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. The vivid memories of being scared and living with domestic violence still haunts me at times. My home was affected by the hard combat trauma my father experienced during all of WWII and deployment during the Korean War. We did not have any kind of domestic violence awareness during the post WWII era…let alone a month like October designated to help children and families become more aware of its seriousness, long term impact on mental health, and ways to get help. We siblings, as military kids, felt scared and alone most of the time. We were afraid to go home when Dad was home for fear of the next beating that could come our way or the threatening emotional outbursts that often came out of nowhere as Dad struggled with his own demons. Mother was affected severely as a wartime military spouse and from her own traumatic childhood during the “depression era.” Our entire family was emotionally damaged and we thought it was just normal and mostly our fault as kids for not being good. What happened in our home stayed at home. From all appearances our family behaved as normal adults and kids outside of the home and in school. We would not dare speak of being scared to go home… Dad was a WWII US Navy hero by day and an angry and dangerous man by night.
Thousands of families were toxic like ours during this post WWII era, but we didn’t know it until later in life when the topic of combat related PTSD was finally revealed and understood more clearly. But the stigma of mental health challenges and the intergenerational effects of post trauma symptoms referred to as secondary PTSD or complex PTSD kept countless children and families from seeking help. The stigma of PTSD remains a big challenge to this day!
I lived with the emotional baggage of child abuse and domestic violence until later in life while doing research on our post WWII family’s toxic culture and the how war affects the mental health of soldiers and sailors long after the war ends. Writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, was finally the beginning of my own journey of healing at age 64, and I am not alone… If it had not been for the gift of awareness, I would still be living with emotional pain. It is a joy to look forward to each day now with peace of mind. The anger, depression, and anxiety tearing away at my heart and soul is now gone, but is a work in progress to keep the pain of past trauma at a safe distance. I am very blessed and thankful for the work of Ginger Kadlec and many others in the mental health community for building awareness through social media. I am also grateful for the support of my family and friends who help keep me grounded with positive energy each and every day…
“Families or individuals who have experienced domestic violence are in the process of healing both physically and emotionally from multiple traumas. These traumas can have various effects on the mind, body and spirit. It is natural to experience these, and acknowledging the effects can be an important first step in embarking on a process towards restoration and healing.
People who are exposed to domestic violence often experience physical, mental or spiritual shifts that can endure and worsen if they are not addressed. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly three in every 10 women—about 32 million—and one in 10 men in the United States who experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner reported at least one measured impact or effect related to forms of violent behavior in that relationship.1“
I am a survivor of domestic violence and child abuse…a lifelong journey of healing is a work in progress… I noticed this past two weeks with all the news and video clips pounding away at my mind, that my usually upbeat disposition was starting to change for the worse. It became difficult for me to keep the images and feelings of past emotional pain at a safe distance. The images of childhood traumatic experiences started to appear much more frequently and put me back in a depressed mental state. Eventually my healing therapy and training kicked in and I started talking about my feelings with my wife and a close trusted friend. This was the first step in getting back on track as indicated in the above quote, “acknowledging the effects can be an important first step in embarking on a process towards restoration and healing.“
My close and trusted friend, Byron Lewis, is also a student of NLP. Byron has written several articles for this blog about NLP (click on highlighted text for more on these alternative treatment strategies for trauma victims) and the therapy value of practicing techniques that can be very effective.
Just today over coffee, Byron, reminded me of one such NLP technique that addresses the images of pain from past traumatic events so that they are not all consuming and powerful. It works this way… When the image appears or as soon as you become aware of the image, keep it pictured in your mind and focus on the experience. Next then, if the image is moving, freeze the frame. If the image is in color, make the image black and white, then look away. Once the image has changed, try moving to look at it from a different position as if it is projected on a screen. Practice this technique over and over again whenever the painful image appears… The ultimate result is the image will no longer have power over your thought process…you are then back in control of the present mindfulness of living in the moment…
For me, the journey of healing from a traumatic past is always a work in progress. Human connectedness, including support from family and friends is truly the best way to keep the emotional pain from the past at a safe distance. Trying to remove the pain of these images with denial never works and it takes so much longer to heal. Being proactive and completely aware of post trauma symptoms is the very first step in healing. Good luck on your own journey of healing…
“Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta Countyis a volunteer charitable organization, 501 c (3), who are veterans helping other veterans to provide financial assistance to veterans and their families in need, to advocate for veterans, provide education and counseling, and to provide a resource of information and experience.”
Membership shall consist only of veterans from the Armed Forces of the United States of America (Air Force, Army, Marines, and Coast Guard).
You may join and contribute as an Associate member, but have no voting right.
We meet every Tuesday, 10:00 am at the Quality Resort, 3505 West Hwy 160.
The last Tuesday of the month will be an evening meeting to accommodate those that cannot make the morning meetings. Location: Same as AM. Time: 6:00 PM
All Veterans Welcome and Refreshments will be offered.
Mission: Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County is a 501 c (3) organization established exclusively for charitable purposes, more specifically:
For veterans to help veterans.
To provide financial assistance to veterans in need.
To advocate for the veteran with the Veterans Administration.
Provide information and experience resources.
We provide outreach to veterans in our community and assist in a variety of needs such as:
Assistance in accessing medical, dental and eye care.
Emotional assistance to help overcome the scars of war such asPost Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries and effects of Agent Orange.
Help provide transportation to out-of town VA appointments.
Hold weekly meetings providing the veteran with up to date information and a place for veterans so they can share information and fellowship.
Help provide information and emotional support to family members of veterans.
Ensure veterans receive access to the Veterans Administration (VA) benefits earned through their service in the armed forces.
While speaking at the Raymond G. Murphy Veterans Medical Center in Albuquerque last week, I was encouraged to make contact with Veterans for Veterans in Pagosa Springs, CO, to share my story about intergenerational PTSD. I received an enthusiastic response when contacting the group, and was made to feel welcome to attend and speak at their regularly scheduled Tuesday 10am meeting. I came early to the meeting to get a feel for the group to help me with my initial interaction. I immediately felt right at home with my brothers and sisters who have served America in the Armed Forces, especially the many members who served during the Vietnam War.
Before speaking to the group, I had a chance to talk to several of the members before the meeting started and to listen to the formal discussion, including reports from the committees who work on community outreach, fund raising, VA updates and support, and programs to engage veterans with veterans. There are now over 120 veteran members of this lively and active non-profit whose passionate work is devoted solely to Archuleta County veterans of all wars.
I immediately recognized the value of veterans forming their own group and taking ownership for helping each other in rural communities in particular. I could feel the bonding, camaraderie and fellowship. I was impressed with the quality of leadership on the board as well. This is a group that is making a huge difference for veterans and their families close to home. I have written about the value of veterans groups supported by local communities (click on link) to complete the circle of support starting with the transition to civilian life and the outgoing support needs once our veterans return home. The Vets for Vets model is exactly the right solution and is showing results evidenced by the support and enthusiasm of the veterans who are members and volunteers. I could not be more encouraged!
Clearly pumped up with enthusiasm, it came time for me to speak to the group. Sharing my story by referencing the challenges of a post WWII and Korean War military family life during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, connected immediately with the close to 40 veterans attending this meeting, including spouses and family members. There was one striking boomer aged lady in attendance who caught my attention because she appeared highly emotional as I talked about forgiving my father and mother once learning about how war comes home and can tear a family apart in life after war. I also talked about the importance of forgiving ourselves first, paving the way to forgiving others and in making a difference for the greater good. Trauma survivors have a tough time with forgiveness, especially forgiving yourself. But we know now that the journey of healing in life after trauma is not possible until self-forgiveness is experienced.
These are the heartfelt healing moments and experiences that come my way while helping others know more about moral injury and the intergenerational effects of PTSD on children and families of warriors. Helping one person at a time encourages me everyday to keep on writing and speaking about life after trauma. I hope to stay in touch with Veterans for Veterans in Pagosa Springs, and those who purchased my book and came up to chat with me privately following the meeting.
The story referenced in this blog post, is very real to me, and the tragedy can happen to any family living with the painful circumstances and toxic behavior connected with family dynamics in the privacy of home. I write in my book about the constant fear and threat that can make loved ones feel trapped and in fear of their own lives. Constant outbursts of anger and rage causing emotional and physical abuse have the potential of a life threatening action either as a suicide to end the pain, or the ultimate act of defense by a loved one to escape the nightmare of domestic violence.
We must do more in our communities at the local level to take ownership for helping veterans on their journey of healing in life after war. In my view, the VA does not currently have the capacity to provide critical care or appropriate personal connection with veterans when they return home. Veterans suffering from the painful symptoms of PTS feel lost when they return home. If there is an unrealistic expectation of what the VA is supposed to do or not do, responsibility for caregiving in the local community can suffer. The lack of speedy access to “tender loving care” and the ignorance of denial at home where our warriors live, puts lives at risk every day. I know from my own childhood experience how scared we were as siblings observing my father’s frequent rages and angry outbursts. We had no choice but to stay out of the line of fire as much as we could. We couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get away from home to be with friends or in the safety of teachers at school.
If this tragic story, along with my own reflective comments, rings a bell in your own circumstance, or with someone else, do not hesitate to seek help from friends and neighbors, including local mental health resources. Do not give up or wait for the VA to act. The local community must take action as the primary caregivers of veterans who struggle adjusting to life following extended deployments in combat. Don’t let your hero feel lost in the shuffle of a higher bureaucracy and alone at home suffering in silence not wanting to impose on friends, family, and local resources. Our warriors protected us and risked their lives. Now, we must do our part to care for them when they return home.
“Emotional abuse of a child, otherwise referred to as psychological maltreatment, can range from blatant acts such as verbal abuse, terrorizing or victimizing to more subtle but equally damaging deeds like rejecting, ignoring or neglecting a child. Some parents emotionally abuse their kids because they were victims of emotional cruelty as children, the American Humane Association explains. The sooner an emotionally abused child gets the help he needs to heal, the better his chances of recovery and negating the cycle of abuse will be.”
Being Called Stupid, An Idiot, Bad, Ugly; Frequently Belittled And Unacknowledged:
Without help, a child or youth’s self-confidence disappears. Later success in learning, living, relationships, and being an effective parent is extremely difficult. These actions are often related to parents and teachers who need education, support and therapy so they can be more patient and attentive to the child or youth. Some adults discharge their stress onto children & youth by acting abusively.
My parents consistently “discharged their stress” on us siblings and they didn’t know the consequences. It was the sign of the times during the 1950’s and early 1960’s during my childhood and young adult life. Families tried to “suck it up” following the trauma of WWII and Korean War when out in the public. When in the privacy and secrecy of home, parents often released the bottled up stress on the kids and each other. Years of this kind of emotional and physical abuse will affect children well into adult life. Unless treated as quickly as possible the emotional baggage is carried forward creating the next generation of highly stressful behaviors resulting in the outward symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress, including anger and severe anxiety. These next generation grown-ups become troubled parents who discharge their stress in the same way as their own parents.
My life as a child and young adult was very much focused on surviving one day at a time. As siblings we demonstrated anger toward each other most of the time as a way to release the built up stress as kids. We felt ignored and neglected. It seemed as though we lived in a loveless home. We didn’t dare talk about our fears at school and had a difficult time with being self-confident around our peers, teachers, and coaches. Each day we wiped away the tears and put on our game faces when we walked out the front door of our home.
The level of awareness regarding the consequences of emotional neglect and child abuse is exponentially better in the 21st Century. It is almost impossible for parents to not know how “discharging stress” in abusive ways at home harms children. It is also safer for kids to talk about their fears outside of the home. The caring and educated community culture of today looks at protecting children, but also considers the importance of helping parents help themselves before it is too late. Communities everywhere try to help each other to prevent families from imploding under the pressure of dysfunctional circumstances. We know now without a doubt that healing children and families sooner than later is far less costly than denial and ignorance.
Please take advantage of opportunities to increase your awareness as parents and children by spending quality time reading and referencing resources i.e., “Growing up Easier Publishing” and engaging with other parents in your local community.
Actor Josh Charles and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Help Create Big Pinwheel Gardens in New York and Chicago!
“The Good Wife” actor Josh Charles helped Prevent Child Abuse America transform Times Square into the Big Pinwheel Garden on Tuesday, April 9, to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month and promote the pinwheel as the symbol for healthy starts for all children. Charles was joined byManhattanmagazine’s Cristina Cuomo, Prevent Child Abuse America President and CEO Jim Hmurovich and over 200 volunteers, holding nearly 5,000 pinwheels to create the display.
I was delighted to learn about the “Pinwheels for Prevention” event planned at the Lincoln City Cultural Center on the front lawn this coming Saturday starting at 9am. The month of April is designated by the US Congress for National Child Abuse Awareness and month of the military child as well. I have posted on this blog recognizing April as the month to remind ourselves of the painful silence of children who are emotionally neglected or abused. It is also a time to think about the families who suffer with emotional challenges that often affect children and result in abuse, including military families. Children often carry forward the emotional baggage of childhood trauma well into adult life. I know this to be true as a post WWII and Korean War military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. The national conversation during the month of April and throughout the year advances the cause of awareness and healing for millions of Americans…