By Casey Gwinn, Esq.
Children exposed to domestic violence and related physical and sexual abuse suffer severe and long term impacts (ACE Study Overview). The majority of all juvenile and adult offenders in correctional institutions came from families of origin with histories of domestic violence, child abuse, and some mix of alcohol and drug abuse. (Family Of Origin, McCord). The prevalence of gang membership, teen relationship violence, bullying, and sexual assault have all been associated with children growing up in violent and abusive homes. (Gwinn/Strack, Hope for Hurting Families, 2006). The research is also clear that creating resiliency and competency in children and providing “turning point” opportunities can help children overcome the trauma and modeling impacts of family violence. (Werner, Smith, Kauai Longitudinal Study). The research is also clear that one mentor/advocate/friend can play a crucial role in enhancing protective factors, increasing resiliency, and giving children exposed to trauma and abuse the courage and strength to avoid repeating the vicious cycle of violence and abuse they have experienced.