Columbia, SC — A recent news article identified four Richland County women who have been killed this year by men in their lives (“Domestic violence deaths driving up Richland County’s 2013 homicide rate,” April 18). In all likelihood at least half of them had children, who also suffered through their mothers’ domestic violence.
When you work with child victims of intimate violence you see broken hearts, timid glances, bowed heads; you hear quiet sorrow. More and more of the children we treat have difficulty in every aspect of their lives: They don’t do well in school because they have trouble with speech, language, reading, staying focused, attendance and social challenges. They’re tired, emotionally and physically. Many are overweight because of poor diet and emotional over-eating. Often they are with extended family who are struggling to care for them in crowded homes and with fewer resources than ever.
Children are witnessing violent physical and verbal incidents in their homes, being exposed to alcohol and drug abuse, and suffering neglect. And it shows. One need only examine the populations of the Department of Juvenile Justice, alcohol and drug treatment centers and mental health agencies to discover both domestic violence and child abuse in their histories.
The link between domestic violence and child abuse is seldom talked about, but it should be. We do not want the next headline to be about child deaths. We must come together to devise real solutions to this monster of a problem. The children are watching.
Carol W. Yarborough
Executive Director, Dickerson Center for Children