Children are often the forgotten voices when it comes to being victimized by abuse. The lasting effects of witnessing abuse in the home impacts millions of households each year. In fact,1. 5 million children witness domestic violence each year in the US (Source: CDV.org). As adults, when we are in an abusive/ dysfunctional relationship we are often so overwhelmed, that we forget that our children are also indirectly impacted. Our relationships create the foundation of how they learn healthy boundaries, conflict resolution, and what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. Studies show that 40 million adult Americans grew up living with domestic violence (Source: CDV.org). As their parents/ adults, we are responsible for planting the seeds that create their roots that impact their growth and the adults they become.
Children in homes with violence are physically abused or seriously neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the national average.As a survivor of abuse, the one regret I have is staying as long as I did in the relationship and subjecting my children to the abuse and dysfunction in our home. They may not have been hurt physically, yet the memories of the yelling, the constant confusion, walking on egg shells and witnessing the physical abuse I have experienced, is still fresh. We don't realize the images and sounds they see and the fear they feel, is abuse. They did not ask or choose to stay in the relationships; we did; as their protectors, it is our duty to protect them at all costs. However, at times we are so wrapped up in the needs of our partner or our needs of being determined in making the relationship work.... that we neglect the emotional and psychological needs of our children.
Once I was finally out of my abusive relationship, my oldest daughter (age 12 at the time) said to me
"We were all wondering when you were going to wake up [from the abuse]; when you were going to leave finally." Her words struck me like a ton of bricks. Today I can look back and sadly say, my children had more wisdom than I did! They had seen and known I should have left a long time ago; regrettably, I had never taken the time to listen to their tiny voices."- A. Phipps
Recently, I was invited by Katie Ferrell at NBCi4 to have an interview with my two of my children to discuss the impact abuse has had on our family. I have been interviewed multiple times, however, I have never shared the experience with my children. I had no idea the questions they would be asked and how much my children would open up and share on camera. I was touched beyond words to see my babies share their vulnerability with the world and hear them talk openly about how abuse has left a lasting impression on their lives. My oldest child (my son Nick) touched me the most. As a young man, I thought he had forgotten or had moved past seeing my abuse over the years.
My youngest daughter (Amaya), was a little nervous, but excited to be interviewed.
I was surprised that he recalled an abusive relationship I was in when he was about 5 years old. I had no idea that he even remembered a guy I dated over fifteen years ago! However, he remembered vivid details of what happened, how I looked, how it made him feel...and how it still affects him today.
My oldest child (Nick), blew me away by this transparency that he shared on camera.
All of my children suffer from PTSD just like I do, in some form or another. Any confrontation, disagreement, or violence in movies that include women, effects them; they all have different triggers. Sadly, children who’ve experienced domestic violence often meet the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and the effects on their brain are similarly to those experienced by combat veterans.
Some adults have experienced domestic abuse as children, and they continue to carry the same trauma with them at age 45, as they did at age 5. No matter what age, we have to allow and encourage them to talk about their experiences; in order to release and break the bondage that keeps us all bound emotionally and spiritually. Their journey of healing is just as significant and necessary of those of us impacted directly.
Below is a recent post that I shared on my Facebook page that captured the proud moment of hearing my children's voices:
Thank you to my children for their continued, support, love and patience as they endured and lived in my mess with me; they are my heroes.
Many thanks to NBCi4 for allowing their platform to be used to HONOR the voices of my children and millions of others. Thank you to Katie Ferrell and her amazing cameraman, Steve Wainfor for making them feel comfortable and their experience on camera memorable!
Update: Unfortunately, my son's video did not get a chance air, due to time constraints; however, if you would like to see the interview with my daughter, please click here