Please take a moment to form a mental image of your family during your childhood. I can’t see that image, but I’m sure it’s what you consider a “normal” family on a typical day, or gathered together for a holiday or special celebration. As a child, you assumed that everyone’s home was much the same way.
So what do you say to a seven-year-old who makes the same kind of assumption — only his description involves yelling and screaming? How would you react to a five-year-old whose image of a “normal” home life involves hiding beneath the covers and hearing Mom cry out as Dad chokes her? Could you respond to a thirteen-year-old who thinks women are stupid and useless because that’s all she ever heard her mother’s boyfriend say?
One of the toughest parts of our job is working with the children who are the innocent victims of domestic violence. It isn’t just a matter of knowing what they’ve witnessed — it’s knowing that, in their eyes, families normally behave abusively. They have no idea that “normal” should mean a home where love is expressed through trust, respect, encouragement, and support. Normal should be going to the pool without looking over your shoulder to see if someone is following you. Normal is being able to be picked up by the bus at your own house to go to your own school. Normal doesn’t involve cowering in fear.
Through our Children’s Program, we protect kids and help them avoid becoming victims (or abusers) by educating them about healthy relationships. We work with therapists and counselors to help them cope with the effects of abuse they’ve seen or suffered. And we help them experience fun — everything from taking them to Ellis Park for swimming, participating in summer camps, learning crafts from Girl Scout troops, and so much more.
Our goal is to help these innocent victims build stable and independent lives, so their own children will describe family life in ways that are more familiar to us. Your continued support of Sheltering Wings helps us create a brighter future for these wonderful youngsters … and for their own children and grandchildren.