By Megan Dixon and Claire Morgan
Clark County has the feel of a small-town, suburban city, yet the prevalence of domestic violence mirrors that of larger metropolitan areas. Last year in Clark County, over 1,500 cases of domestic violence were reported to the police, and there were 8 domestic violence related homicides; the same number as King County. Additionally in 2011, YWCA’ SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program provided 8,389 bed nights at its local shelter to women, children, and men escaping violence. Half of domestic violence cases involve children in the home; the effects of which are detrimental.
Some believe that children who have never experienced physical pain from an abuser are immune to the effects of violence in the home; this simply isn’t the case. Studies show that children who are exposed to violence have an increased rate of anxiety, fear, and anger as well as poor sleeping patterns, withdrawal from social interactions, and decreased verbal ability. Domestic violence has damaging effects on the parent-child relationship such as a decrease in the children’s trust in parents, undermining of parental authority, and an eroding view of positive family interactions. These effects, if not addressed properly, can impact a child’s future and make the child more prone to tolerate further abuse and/or perpetuate abuse as an adult.
Fortunately for our community, the SafeChoice Children’s Advocacy Program is working to end the cycle of violence by empowering families and elevating the parent/child bond. A family support specialist works with parents and children to create a strength-based plan unique to their situation. After school, the program offers free play and structured activities for children in a safe and enriching environment. With staff and volunteer support, families participating in the Children’s Advocacy Program enrich relationships, receive resources and advocacy, and become empowered to pursue a strong and secure future.
This spring, the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program of YWCA Clark County is raising $15,000 to strengthen the Children’s Advocacy Program and help ensure children healing from a violent past can have a successful future. Through the generosity of loyal supporters, every dollar that you give through June 30th will be matched, dollar for dollar up to $5,000. Will you donate today and support future generations through this preventative program?