Hope for Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse – With Help, Children can Grow Up to be the People They Were Meant to Be
October 15, 2013
Recently I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker at the annual fundraising luncheon for Voices for Children – CASA of Monterey County. For the approximately 250 people in attendance, I shared passages from True North – The Shocking Truth about “Yours, Mine and Ours”. During the presentation you could hear a pin drop. The people were interested and I was honored when they showed their appreciation by giving me a standing ovation.
It was extremely gratifying to speak with the attendees who came to my book signing after the luncheon. Many of them remembered the movie, some knew one or another Beardsley or North family member. Some shared their recollections with me and thanked me for writing my book – for coming out with my true story about the real-life family. I have already heard from several who have already finished the book and were moved by the story. One person said she was going to buy a copy for every member of her family.
Many also shared with me their stories of living with domestic violence and child abuse. Unfortunately this problem in our society, and around the world, is rampant. Here are some statistics about domestic violence and child abuse that you may not know:
According to a study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and 7 million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women who have experienced domestic violence are 80 percent more likely to have a stroke, 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 60 percent more likely to have asthma and 70 percent more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence.
It is proven that living under these circumstances affects not just the psychological health, but the physical health of all involved as well. Is there hope? Yes. A perfect example is the story of a teenager, Ryan, who also spoke at the luncheon. He told how he ended up as a ward of the state, moving from foster home to foster home, never knowing any kind of stability, until he became familiar with CASA and the guidance they provide for children in need. Since getting in the program, Ryan has been adopted, is living in a loving home, and leads a more normal, stable life. CASA made the positive changes in his life possible.
Ryan told his story bravely and honestly. I was proud of him for his strength and delivery. As a person who has experienced some of the same difficulties Ryan faced, I felt compassion for him. When I was a boy, CASA did not yet exist and society had a different set of perspectives on family life and the way domestic violence and child abuse was hidden in a cloak of secrecy and shame. (In many cases, it still is.) Fortunately for Ryan and other children like him, we have evolved in our understanding of what constitutes a safe, healthy environment.
Today, CASA is doing amazing work. Before the luncheon, I spoke at length with the CEO of the National CASA Association, Michael Piraino. Michael is a wonderful, compassionate man whose commitment to CASA and to the children it serves is impressive and inspiring. During our conversation, Michael said something that was both simple and profound. “What we do at CASA is work to remove obstacles so that children can become the people they were meant to be.” Wow!
I am committed to working with the national CASA organization and its local chapters to raise awareness about the issues of domestic violence and child abuse in America. But budgets are cut and funding is needed to lift up more children and give them a voice. This is why I’m donating 10% of the proceeds of sale of True North – The Shocking Truth about “Yours, Mine and Ours” sold on this website to CASA.
October is Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness Month in the U.S. We have much work to do in removing obstacles so that children can, in Michael Piraino’s words, “…become the people they were meant to be.”