Family Secrets: When Violence Hits Home
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Family Secrets: When Violence Hits Home

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>> male announcer: THIS IS NICK NEWS WITH LINDA ELLERBEE. NOW FROM NEW YORK, HERE IS LINDA ELLERBEE. >> DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS ABUSE, PHYSICAL OR EMOTIONAL, USED BY ONE MEMBER OF A FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD ON ANOTHER. RIGHT NOW, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT PARENTS ABUSING KIDS, ALTHOUGH, AS WE ALL KNOW, IT HAPPENS. AT THE MOMENT, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PARENTS ABUSING EACH OTHER, A SUBJECT OFTEN HIDDEN WITHIN FAMILIES BUT WHICH GOES ON IN ALL RACES, ECONOMIC SITUATIONS, AND FAMILY CONFIGURATIONS. WHAT FOLLOWS ARE STORIES FROM KIDS WHO'VE BEEN CAUGHT IN THIS KIND OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. THESE KIDS ARE NOW SAFE, AND THEY WANT TO BREAK THEIR SILENCE. THEY WANT THEIR STORIES TO BE HEARD. WE WANT TO HEAR THEM. >> THIS IS THE HOUSE I GREW UP IN. WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, MY PARENTS USED TO ARGUE ALL THE TIME. IT WOULD START OVER THE LITTLEST THING, AND THEN IT WOULD ESCALATE INTO YELLING AND FIGHTING AND THEN HITTING. >> I WOULD BE SCARED. LIKE, I WOULD HEAR BANGING ON THE WALLS. I WOULD HIDE UP UNDER MY COVER. >> WE HID BACK IN THE ROOM. YOU WOULD HEAR MY MOM SAYING, "NO, DON'T DO THAT. DON'T--DON'T--" AND THEN YOU COULD HEAR, LIKE, HIM PUNCHING MY MOM IN THE FACE AND STUFF. >> IT WAS VERY UNPREDICTABLE. WE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. WE ARE CHELSEA, ELIJAH, AND EMILY, AND WE ARE FROM TENNESSEE. >> THERE WAS ALWAYS A SILENCE AFTER AN ARGUMENT OR AFTER SOMEBODY GOT HIT, AND IT WOULD JUST HAPPEN AGAIN AND AGAIN. MY NAME IS ZACH, AND I LIVE IN NEW YORK STATE. MY MOM'S BOYFRIEND MOVED IN WITH US WHEN I WAS ABOUT SIX, AND THERE WAS ARGUMENTS THAT THEY'D START OFF PRETTY IMMEDIATELY. I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS SOMETHING NORMAL, BUT WHEN IT ESCALATED INTO ALL THE HITTING AND ALL THE PUSHING AROUND AND IT WAS ARGUING EVERY SINGLE DAY, CONSTANTLY, I KNEW IT WASN'T SOMETHING NORMAL. >> WHEN MY MOTHER AND I WERE LIVING WITH HER BOYFRIEND, THE WAY HE WAS ACTING WASN'T HURTING ME EMOTIONALLY, BUT MY MOTHER BEING HURT WAS HURTING ME EMOTIONALLY BECAUSE SHE WAS ALL THAT I HAD. MY NAME IS VARIAN. I LIVE IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA. HE THREW MY MOTHER AROUND A LOT, AND I SAW HIM PUNCHING HER AND PUSHING HER AND THROWING HER DOWN THE STEPS. I WAS SCARED THAT EVENTUALLY HE WAS GONNA KILL HER, BECAUSE IT WAS GETTING REALLY EXTREME. >> WHEN MY DAD WAS LIVING WITH US, HE WOULD ALWAYS WANT CONTROL OF US. HE NEVER WANTED MY MOM TO GO ANYWHERE. HE ALWAYS WANTED MY MOM TO COOK, CLEAN, AND JUST STAY IN THE HOUSE. MY NAME IS ZOJA, AND I LIVE IN NEW YORK STATE. WHEN MY MOM DID MAKE HURT, HE SAYS, "IT'S, LIKE-- THAT'S NOT WHAT I WANTED." AND THEN HE-- HE STARTED BEATING HER. I WOULD TAKE MY SISTER INTO HER ROOM TO NOT HEAR THEM, LIKE, FIGHTING AND STUFF, AND I WOULD TELL HER, "IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT. NOTHING'S HAPPENING." IT WAS SCARY. >> I'M AN ONLY CHILD, SO I WAS BASICALLY HIDING BY MYSELF, AND I FELT SO ALONE. MY NAME IS SOPHIA, AND I LIVE IN IOWA. MY DAD WAS A REALLY GOOD GUY. IT WAS JUST THE ALCOHOL PROBLEMS THAT HE HAD THAT KIND OF TOOK CONTROL OF HIS MIND. MY MOM WOULD THROW THINGS AND SCREAM, AND MY DAD WOULD PUSH HER, PIN HER DOWN, SOMETIMES CHOKE HER. >> WE GET VIOLENT, LIKE, TRYING TO PUNCH EACH OTHER, BECAUSE I FEEL ANGRY THROUGH HIM, AND I DON'T CARE IF HE PUNCH ME. "OKAY, I PUNCH YOU TOO." YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? MY NAME IS ANAYI. I AM SOPHIA'S MOM. >> THEY'D YELL, "I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN. I REGRET MEETING YOU," WHICH MADE ME FEEL EVEN WORSE, BECAUSE IF THEY NEVER MET, THEY WOULD'VE NEVER HAD ME. >> WE LIVED IN A SMALL APARTMENT, SO WHEN HE WAS ABUSING HER, I TRIED TO DISTRACT MYSELF BY WATCHING TELEVISION OR READING, BUT I NEVER WANTED TO LEAVE THE ROOM BECAUSE I WAS ALWAYS AFRAID THAT HE WOULD TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL AND HARM HER MORE. >> YOU COULDN'T GO ANYWHERE OR DO ANYTHING WITHOUT HIS SAY-SO. LIKE, MY MOM, IF SHE WAS, LIKE, FIVE MINUTES LATE, HE'D HIT HER WITH 100 QUESTIONS, AND THEN HE WOULD TURN IT INTO A FIGHT. >> I BELIEVE THAT EACH ONE OF US IN THIS HOUSE WERE TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO MAKE HIM HAPPY. PERSONALLY, I WOULD CLEAN. I FELT LIKE IF I DID MORE, THEY WOULD ARGUE LESS, BUT HE WAS UNPLEASABLE. >> WHEN MY MOTHER'S BOYFRIEND WAS ABUSING HER, I WOULD TRY DEFENDING HER AND TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO GET HIM OFF OF HER, BUT I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE BEST WAY THAT A CHILD SHOULD DEAL WITH THE SITUATION, BECAUSE THE ABUSER DOESN'T HAVE SELF-CONTROL OVER THEIR ANGER, AND THE CHILD COULD GET HURT AS WELL. >> I FELT VERY UNSAFE. SOMETIMES I WOULD SLEEP IN THE CLOSET. THE CLOSET WAS MY HIDING PLACE. >> I HATE MYSELF ALL THE TIME. I REALLY DO, 'CAUSE I NEVER TRIED TO DO SOMETHING. I WAS AFRAID TO BE ALONE. >> I WANTED TO HELP MY MOM. I WANTED TO TELL SOMEBODY THAT SHE NEEDS HELP. SHE NEEDS TO GET OUT-- GET OUT OF THIS. BUT I HAD NOBODY TO TELL-- ANYBODY. I FELT LIKE I WAS JUST DONE. LIKE, I HAD NOBODY. IT FELT LIKE I WAS IN PRISON AND I WAS IN A CAGE. I COULDN'T TELL NOBODY. I FELT ALONE. I FELT LIKE I WAS THE ONLY PERSON, LIKE, IN THIS OR WHO HAD THIS, SO I HAD NOBODY TO TELL MY FEELINGS ABOUT-- ABOUT MY FEELINGS. >> I REALLY WANTED TO LEAVE, BUT I NEVER TALKED TO MY MOM ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING ON. I DIDN'T KNOW HOW SHE FELT, AND I DIDN'T KNOW IF SHE WANTED TO LEAVE LIKE I DID. >> I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO GET OUT OR WHAT TO DO, AND IT WAS JUST, LIKE, "LET ME JUST TRY TO MAKE PEACE IN THE HOUSE." MY NAME IS MARGARET, AND I'M ZACH'S MOTHER. THERE WOULD BE TIMES THAT HE WOULD SAY, IF WE LEFT, HE'D FIND US. HE'D HURT US. HE'D THREATEN US. >> I BELIEVE MY MOM STAYED BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO MAKE IT WORK. >> I DIDN'T WANT TO BE ALONE. I WANTED THAT SECURITY OF HAVING THE FATHER AND MY HUSBAND. MY NAME IS PENNY, AND I'M EMILY, ELIJAH, AND CHELSEA'S MOM. I WANTED TO HAVE SOMEONE THERE JUST TO LOVE ME, EVEN THOUGH IT MAY HAVE BEEN THE WRONG SITUATION AND NOT THE RIGHT TYPE OF LOVE, BUT YET, IT WAS STILL, TO ME, A LOVE. >> I WANTED HIM TO LEAVE, BUT I HAD ENOUGH SENSE TO KNOW THAT WE NEEDED HIM FINANCIALLY. >> WHEN MY PARENTS WOULD FIGHT, TO ME, THAT WAS NORMAL, 'CAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT A NORMAL PARENT WAS AT THE TIME. >> AS SOON AS I WENT TO MY FRIEND'S HOUSE, YOU KNOW, SEEING HOW HIS FAMILY WORKED AND STUFF, I WAS LIKE, "MY FAMILY'S REALLY STRANGE." LIKE, I JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND. >> I FELT LIKE WE HAD TO KEEP IT HIDDEN. WE KNEW IT WAS WRONG. WE KNEW THAT THE VIOLENCE WAS SOMETHING THAT MY DAD COULD GET IN TROUBLE FOR, SO WE JUST CHOSE NOT TO TELL, BECAUSE WE LOVED HIM. I MEAN, IT WAS OUR-- IT WAS OUR DAD. >> I JUST THOUGHT MAYBE IT WAS A FAMILY THING THAT I NEEDED TO KEEP A SECRET. IT GOT SO BAD ONE TIME, I WENT TO A SCHOOL COUNSELOR, BUT THEY DIDN'T REALLY HELP, BECAUSE I DIDN'T REALLY TELL HER WHAT WAS GOING ON, BECAUSE I FELT LIKE IF I SAID THEY WERE GETTING PHYSICAL-- AND THEY'D TAKE ME AWAY. >> WHILE MY HUSBAND AND I WERE FIGHTING, I WASN'T THINKING ABOUT WHAT MY CHILDREN MIGHT BE HEARING. I COME TO REALIZE THAT THEY DO HEAR EVERY LITTLE THING THAT GOES ON AND THAT THEY ARE VERY HIGHLY AFFECTED BY IT. >> I KNOW SOPHIA WAS AFFECTED. I MEAN, AND I KNEW IT. IT MADE ME FEEL HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, KNOWING... KNOWING SHE WAS AWARE IN THAT AND SEE THAT. >> AND I THOUGHT, "DO THEY LOVE ME? OR DO THEY NOT LOVE ME THAT MUCH TO STOP, TO KNOW THAT I WAS HURTING?" AND AS PARENTS, THEY SHOULD KNOW THAT I WAS HURTING. >> AS A KID, YOU FEEL HOPELESS, BECAUSE THE TWO PEOPLE YOU LOVE ARE ARGUING AND FIGHTING, AND YOU'RE JUST CONFUSED. IT'S JUST CRAZY. >> I WAS DEFINITELY ROBBED OF MY CHILDHOOD, LIKE, COMING HOME TO THAT EVERY SINGLE DAY. >> THERE WERE TIMES WHERE I JUST WANTED TO BE NORMAL. I JUST WANTED TO HAVE THAT CHILDHOOD THAT EVERYBODY ELSE HAD WHERE I COULD GO OUT AND TOSS A BALL WITH MY MOM'S BOYFRIEND AND HAVE THAT CONNECTION, BUT THERE WAS NEVER THAT CONNECTION AT ALL. >> I WOULD ALWAYS WANT A DAD THAT CARES, NOT JUST, LIKE, TO LEAVE LIKE I DON'T-- LIKE I'M NOT EVEN ALIVE-- I'M NOT EVEN THERE. I WOULD ALWAYS WANT ANOTHER DAD. >> THINGS CHANGED FOR ME WHEN I STARTED TO TALK ABOUT IT TO A FRIEND. SHE WAS MY NEIGHBOR, SO WHENEVER THEY STARTED FIGHTING, I'D JUST GO TO HER HOUSE. AND I TALKED ABOUT MY SITUATION TO HER. >> SOPHIA'S FRIEND TALKED TO HER MOM. HER MOM COME TO ME AND SAID, "DON'T BE AFRAID TO TALK. YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN HERE." THAT GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO GET OUT FROM THIS SITUATION. FINALLY, I MADE MY DECISION TO DIVORCE HIM, TO HAVE A BETTER LIFE AND BE PEACEFUL. >> THE WAY WE GOT OUT OF THIS-- THE SITUATION WAS WHEN MY MOM CALLED A RELATIVE FOR HELP. WE WENT TO THE HOSPITAL, AND THE POLICE CAME AND TOOK PHOTOS OF HER BRUISES AND HANDS OF CHOKINGS HERE. I ASKED THE POLICE, "ARE WE GONNA GO BACK TO OUR DAD?" AND THEN HE SAID, "NO." WE GOT OUR STUFF, AND WE WENT TO A SHELTER. >> THE VIOLENCE ENDED WHEN MY MOM DECIDED TO MOVE OUT OF THE HOUSE AND TAKE US TO A SHELTER. >> WE WENT TO THE SHELTER BECAUSE IT'S A PLACE THAT PROTECTS AND OFFERS SERVICES TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN. WE HAD NO PLACE ELSE TO GO, NO FAMILY. WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY MONEY BECAUSE I HAD LOST MY JOB. >> AFTER THE FIRST WEEK BEING AT THAT SHELTER, I STARTED TO REALIZE THAT IT DID END, THAT HE WASN'T THERE ANYMORE AND THERE WAS NO MORE HITTING. >> AT SOME POINT, MY MOM GOT SICK OF BEING HURT CONSTANTLY, AND SHE REALIZED THAT THAT ISN'T HOW A RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE. THAT'S WHEN SHE DECIDED TO LEAVE, AND ONE DAY, WE JUST LEFT AND JUST NEVER TURNED BACK. >> THE VIOLENCE STOPPED WHEN MY DAD WENT TO PRISON. HE WENT TO PRISON BECAUSE HE MURDERED MY MOTHER'S BEST FRIEND AND ALMOST MURDERED MY MOTHER. >> I WAS ANGRY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED. LIKE, I WAS WONDERING, "WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN ABOUT--LIKE, TO MY FAMILY?" >> I FELT LIKE I HAD FAILED WHEN MY DAD WENT TO JAIL. I FELT LIKE IF I WOULD'VE DONE MORE, MAYBE THEY WOULDN'T HAVE ARGUED AS MUCH. MAYBE IT WOULDN'T HAVE ESCALATED TO THAT. >> WE ALL FELT SAFER SINCE HE'S GONE, BUT, LIKE, LIVING IN THE SAME HOUSE, IT STILL BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES. >> YOU CAN CHANGE FROM A HOUSE WITH VIOLENCE INTO A SHELTER WHERE IT'S SAFE, BUT YOU CAN'T CHANGE ALL THE FEELINGS THAT YOU STILL HAD FROM THAT WHILE THE VIOLENCE WAS DONE. BUT I COULDN'T GET THE THOUGHTS OUT OF MY HEAD. >> WHEN ME AND MY MOTHER AND MY BROTHER MOVED INTO OUR OWN APARTMENT, I BEGAN TO WORRY THAT HE WOULD FIND US THERE, AND THAT WAS A BIG WORRY OF MINE FOR A REALLY LONG TIME. I WOULD SEE SOMETHING THAT-- OR SOMEONE WHO SORT OF LOOKED LIKE HIM OR REMINDED ME OF HIM, AND THEN I REMEMBER ALL THE THINGS THAT HE DID. >> I STILL WANT TO KNOW ANSWERS, AND I STILL WANT TO KNOW WHY. A PART OF ME WANTS TO BLAME HIM, AND ANOTHER PART OF ME WANTS TO FORGIVE HIM, BUT IT'S SO HARD. [soft piano music playing] ♪ >> TODAY, MY FAMILY LIVES IN AN APARTMENT ASSOCIATED WITH A SHELTER. I KNOW I'M SAFE, BUT THE PAST IS STILL HAUNTING ME. >> AND THEY'RE EACH GOING TO REPRESENT A DIFFERENT FEELING. ONCE A CHILD LEAVES A VIOLENT SITUATION WITH THEIR FAMILY, THERE'S A PROCESS OF RECOVERY THAT THEY ALL GO THROUGH. I'M MONICA IDEMA. I'M A YOUTH ADVOCATE AND COUNSELOR. I'VE BEEN WORKING WITH ZOJA FOR TWO YEARS. >> I NEVER BEEN LOVED FROM HIM. >> YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE YOU'VE BEEN LOVED BY HIM. WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO WITH ZOJA AND KIDS LIKE ZOJA IS PROVIDE THEM WITH A SAFE ENVIRONMENT THAT THEY CAN COME-- THEY CAN EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS. YOU CALLED 911. NOW, YOU MUST HAVE BEEN REALLY SCARED. IT MUST HAVE BEEN A SCARY SITUATION THAT YOU FELT THAT YOU NEEDED TO CALL 911. YES? BUT YOU WERE BRAVE ENOUGH TO DO IT. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? >> WHEN I SAW MY MOM BEING HURT... >> MM-HMM. >> I FELT THAT I SHOULD DO THE RIGHT THING AND TO HELP MY MOM. >> OKAY. >> I SAID, "PLEASE HELP," AND I TOLD THE ADDRESS. THEN THE POLICE CAME AND KNOCKED ON THE DOOR. AND MY DAD SAID, "OH, NOTHING HAPPENED. IT WAS JUST MY-- IT WAS JUST MY DAUGHTER WHO-- WHO TRIED TO PLAY WITH MY PHONE." >> IN ZOJA'S CASE, IT DIDN'T SOLVE THE PROBLEM RIGHT THEN. HOWEVER, IT DID STOP THE ABUSE FOR THAT EVENING. SHE MAY HAVE SAVED HER MOTHER'S LIFE. AND IT WASN'T LONG AFTER THAT THAT THE MOTHER DID DECIDE TO SEEK HELP AND TOOK HER FAMILY TO SHELTER. KNOWING HOW STRONG AND BRAVE YOU HAD TO BE IN THAT MOMENT, MAYBE THAT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN USE NOW TO HELP YOU HEAL. >> TALKING ABOUT IT KIND OF FEELS UNCOMFORTABLE, BUT I KNOW IT'S THE RIGHT DECISION TO HELP MOVE ON. >> [together] 19, 20, 21, 22... >> MY LIFE NOW, I JUST GO TO SCHOOL, COME BACK HOME AND WATCH TV, READ BOOKS, PLAY WITH MY SISTER. I AM HAPPY. >> NOW MY FAMILY IS LIVING ON OUR OWN, AND WE HAVE OUR OWN HOUSE. IT'S LIKE I'M STARTING MY CHILDHOOD NOW. >> WE'RE LIVING EXAMPLES THAT THERE IS HELP AND HOPE. >> WHEN WE LEFT, MY MOTHER REALIZED THAT SHE HAD TO BECOME MORE FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT, AND EVENTUALLY, SHE WENT BACK TO SCHOOL TO GET A DEGREE. I WATCHED HER FROM HER LOWEST UNTIL HER HIGHEST, AND TO BE AT A PLACE WHERE SHE IS NOW FROM WHERE SHE WAS WHEN SHE WAS BEING ABUSED IS AMAZING. >> AND NOW ME AND MY MOM AND MY GRANDMA LIVE HERE, AND MY DAD, WE DON'T KNOW WHERE HE IS. TODAY, I HAVE A GREAT COMMUNICATION WITH MY MOM, WHICH I LOVE. >> WE ARE VERY CONNECTED. I ALWAYS TOLD HER, "BESIDES YOUR MOM, I'M YOUR BEST FRIEND." >> NOW MY FAMILY LIFE IS LIKE A NORMAL FAMILY, I GUESS. I DO CHORES. I HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS. I PLAY VIDEO GAMES. LIKE, WE'RE JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE SORT OF. YEAH. >> I THINK YOURS IS-- >> I THINK MINE'S FINE. >> I'VE HEARD THAT WHEN SOMEBODY GOES THROUGH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE HOME THAT THEY'RE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE VIOLENCE WHEN THEY'RE OLDER IN THEIR HOME, AND I DIDN'T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN, SO I STARTED TO TRY TO GO THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. >> MINE SAYS, "PUT YOUR HAND IN THE AIR IF YOU HATE VIOLENCE OF ANY KIND." >> I'M PART OF A GROUP CALLED P.E.A.C.E., AND IT STANDS FOR PEER ENCOURAGEMENT AND COMMUNITY EDUCATION. AND WE GO AROUND AT DIFFERENT EVENTS AND TELL PEOPLE ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND WHAT THEY CAN LOOK OUT FOR. ALL OF US, WE'VE GONE THROUGH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, AND... WHEN I GO OUT IN THE COMMUNITY AND I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, I'M TELLING THEM ABOUT MY STORY, AND I KNOW IT'S A GOOD THING. LIKE, GOING THROUGH IT, THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS THAT YOU FEEL AND THAT-- YOUR EMOTIONS AND STUFF... THEY WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT IT, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT REALLY KEEPS ME GOING. >> I BELIEVE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS SOLVABLE WITH THE RIGHT EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE. IT'S A CYCLE. YOU HAVE TO BREAK IT. YOU HAVE TO WANT TO BREAK IT. >> OKAY. I EXPERIENCED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AS A CHILD GROWING UP, ALMOST THE SAME PATTERN. I REMEMBER THINKING TO MYSELF, "I WILL NEVER BE IN THAT SITUATION," AND THEN IT'S LIKE, "WOW, I'M IN THIS SITUATION, AND I'VE GOT CHILDREN THAT ARE IN THIS SITUATION." >> ME AND MY FAMILY MADE A DECISION THAT WE'RE GONNA GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED, BECAUSE THERE'S STILL KIDS IN AMERICA THAT ARE, LIKE, LIVING IN THE SHADOWS, LIKE, BEHIND DOORS. LIKE, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S BEHIND DOORS. >> MY MOM STARTED SPEAKING OUT, AND SHE COORDINATED A WALKATHON FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. AT THE WALKATHON, I MET A BUNCH OF WOMEN THAT HAD GONE THROUGH THE EXACT SAME THING THAT MY MOTHER WENT THROUGH, AND THEY ALSO HAD CHILDREN. AND AS WE GOT TO TALKING, WE REALIZED, SPEAKING OUT ABOUT YOUR SITUATION NOT ONLY HELPS OTHERS, BUT IT HELPS YOURSELF. >> NOW THAT I'VE TALKED TO A LOT OF PEOPLE ABOUT IT, IT'S HELPED ME ACCEPT IT A LOT. WHEN I'M TALKING TO PEOPLE ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, I DON'T WANT THEM TO SEE ME AS A VICTIM, BECAUSE I SURVIVED FROM IT. I WANT THEM TO SEE THAT I'M A SURVIVOR. >> SOMETIMES I THINK ABOUT IT, AND I JUST FELT LIKE, "HOW--HOW DID--WHY DID-- HOW DID I LIVE LIKE THIS? HOW DID MY MOM EVEN LIVE?" BUT I'VE LEARNED TO BE BRAVE AND TO BE STRONG AND TO NOT BE AFRAID OF ANYBODY. >> I WAS A WITNESS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, BUT AFTER THAT, I WITNESSED MY MOTHER GROW AND BECOME STRONGER. AND SO NOW I KNOW THAT IF I'M PUT IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION, THAT I CAN GROW AND BECOME STRONGER AS WELL. >> BECAUSE OF WHAT I WENT THROUGH, THERE'S NOTHING I CAN'T DO NOW. I'VE ALREADY FACED SO MUCH FEAR IN MY LIFE. I MEAN, EVERYTHING ELSE SEEMS SO SMALL IN COMPARISON. >> I KNOW I CAN NEVER HAVE THAT PERFECT FAMILY THAT I'VE WANTED, BUT I CAN TRY TO MAKE MY OWN HAPPY FAMILY. >> I CAN'T CHANGE MY PAST. I CAN'T CHANGE HOW MY PARENTS CHOSE TO LIVE, BUT I CAN CHANGE HOW I DECIDE TO LIVE AND HOW MY LIFE IS GOING TO BE. >> MANY OF THE KIDS WE MET IN THIS PROGRAM FEEL THE GREATEST CHANCE FOR BREAKING THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE LIES WITH OTHER KIDS JUST LIKE THEM. WE HOPE ANY KID CAUGHT IN THE TRAP OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT THESE KIDS ALREADY KNOW: THAT IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT, THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE, AND THAT IF YOU ARE ONE OF THESE KIDS, THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF. NO MATTER HOW DARK THE MOMENT, THERE IS HOPE AND A WAY OUT. I'M LINDA ELLERBEE.
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Family Secrets: When Violence Hits Home