Don’t Stay for the Kids

By Cesiah Guerra

“Her hands fumbled the doorknob, in hopes of a new beginning. But she dared not go.”

Every victim has their reasons why they stay. Some stay due to fear, shame, fear of judgment, and some simply stay to “keep the family together.” They feel it is their responsibility to stay in the abusive relationship, so the children won’t grow up without the presence of the other parent. It is easy to believe that staying will benefit the family and children.

Yet in the process of staying in an abusive relationship, dangers arise not only for the parent who stays enduring the abuse, but also for the children involved. It is easy to fall in the trap that things will get better and that the children will be better off if they all stay together as a family, but this is far from the truth.

Children who grow up exposed to violence in the home may suffer a range of severe and lasting effects.  Children who are exposed to violence in the home may have difficulty learning, have limited social skills, exhibit violent or delinquent behavior, and suffer depression or anxiety.

Children who are surrounded by violence in the home don’t receive the opportunity to grow up in a safe and stable home. Many of these precious children suffer silently without the support they need. There is an increased risk of children becoming victims themselves. Children growing up in an abusive home are 15 times more likely to be physically and sexually abused.

When a victim of domestic violence decides to stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of “keeping the family together,” the children become the “forgotten victim.” They suffer as much as the abused parent. They can feel the hurt and pain, they can hear the silent suffering, they can hear the ever present cry.

For parents, who choose to stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of the children, can cause more harm than good.

Leaving the only home one knows is never easy. No one wants their children to grow up without the wholeness of a family, yet sometimes one has to see past those desires and look at the children. We have to ask ourselves is it worth it? Is it worth staying in an abusive relationship that risks the safety of the children for the sake of keeping the family together?

The benefits of leaving an abusive relationship are worth it for the victim and their children.

  1. Imagine a life where your children are safe. They no longer need to be fearful whether one parent will hurt the other or even them, for that matter. They will be able to sleep in peace knowing no one can hurt them; knowing that their parent is safe, that they are safe.
  2. Joy will return to their spirits. Because who can find joy in an abusive home? Laughter and smiles will return to their little faces. They will be able to grow in a safe home, where they can play and laugh without the fear of being abused.
  3. No longer having to subject themselves to the abuse they once saw will allow them to experience peace. Offering a home where abuse no longer reigns but one of peace, is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.
  4. Leaving an abusive home will open the opportunity for children to grow into healthy adults and develop healthy relationships; breaking the cycle of domestic violence from one family to another.

Giving our children a home that is safe, where joy and peace abound, and spiritual growth permeates is the best gift we can give our children.

If you are in a situation where domestic violence exists and your children are in the midst, please don’t stay for the sake of “keeping the family together.” If not for yourself, please leave for the sake of your children. Gift your children today, a place they can call home. A home full of peace, joy, laughter, and where healthy relationships are modeled for them.

Children are a gift and our future.

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