Don't know why, but for some reason, we tend to get the most beautiful kids and babies in the domestic violence shelter where I work. The large eyes, the gorgeous hair, the precious mouths.
It makes it even harder for me to believe that someone would make these lovely children and their moms scared, sad, and stressed for no good reason other than an obsessive, insane need to control them.
IMO, domestic violence abusers' problem with control, though probably different in origin from that of other addicted/obsessed people, still may have the same effect on the kids involved, whether the "substance" is abusive control, alcohol, drugs,food, gambling, sex, etc.
Everyone assumes that children who grow up with domestic violence have it worse than children who grow up in homes with other types of addiction and co-dependence. If the abuser is homicidal and conveys that to mom and kids, I agree.
But in my experience, any child whose life involves two parent figures, a significant addiction, and Mom (or Dad's) reaction to that addiction, will be affected in similar ways to the child in a domestic violence situation:
1. Early on, they may learn that their parents aren't that consistent or reliable.
2. When parents fail them, the oldest or the only child is in charge.
3. When the child is in charge, life shifts from the "adult-in-charge/protective model they experience outside the home to the open pit of self-care and responsibility for pets and younger sibs.
4. Should an outsider (especially police or anyone mandated to follow child welfare regulations) finds out there's a problem, the child has few options. He may have been taught or have decided to lie about the reality of his life. He may try to "fix things" so no one will find out. Or he may decide or be coerced into telling the truth.
5. Telling the truth may mean loss of home, parents, siblings, extended family, pets, school, teacher, church, and other important relationships.
6. Separation from the seriously addicted parent(s)leaves him abandoned again.
Not much of a choice, is it? What would you do if you were this child?
What if you were the adult dealing with the addicted person?
What would you gain or lose with each choice?
I don't know what I would decide and I don't know how judges, social workers, doctors, etc. decide.
So I volunteer. Most shelters, schools, hospitals, children's institutions,etc. welcome people who want to help. You don't have to be perfect. You just need to care.
For me, the rewards far outweigh the effort. Check it out.