For most of us, the holiday season is a joyful time centered on family and home, and our children can hardly wait to delight in the merriment. Meanwhile, children in SAVE’s Safe House have a different holiday experience. While adult survivors are the primary victims of intimate partner violence, most children living in violent homes experience abuse and, worst yet, some become homeless. For our Safe House children, SAVE becomes their family and home.
Last year, 1 out of 3 residents in SAVE’s Safe House was a child.
Eric was one of those children. In early November, Eric was scared when he arrived from another shelter into SAVE’s Safe House with his mother, brother, and little sister. In the evenings his mother read the children holiday stories, but Eric worried that, since he no longer lived at home, he and his siblings would miss out on the celebrations.
During a children’s group, the SAVE Family Support Advocate noticed that Eric’s holiday art projects included a child with tears. The advocate talked with his mother and asked if she would be interested in participating in family therapy. Through therapy, it was realized that, not only was Eric worrying about the holidays, he was afraid to sleep because of nightmares.
Studies find that children who experience childhood domestic violence are at significant risk for physical and mental health challenges, six times more likely to commit suicide, 50% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and 74% more likely to commit a violent crime. Last year, our Safe House Children’s Program provided family therapy, children’s groups twice each week, and parenting support including monthly family fun nights, because we know the lifelong impact that domestic violence can have on children.
Eric was thrilled when Thanksgiving Day came—he enjoyed all of his favorite dishes, played games, made arts and crafts, and celebrated in a house full of people! With time, he felt secure and at home at SAVE. He looked forward to seeing his therapist, and learned ways to ask his mother for help when he had worries.
SAVE’s services break the cycle of domestic violence and build healthier lives for every individual and family we serve. Your support makes this possible.
We hope this year you can support us so that children like Eric will celebrate a peaceful holiday season and a hopeful New Year!
From our SAVE Family to Yours,
Dr. Yasi Safinya-Davies, Executive Director
Please note: Some details of the story were changed to protect the safety of the children.