October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Each year millions of children are exposed to violence in their homes. Exposure to violence, especially repeated over time, can interfere with children’s ability to think and learn and can disrupt the course of healthy physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Exposure to violence is also associated with increased use of health and mental health services and increased risk of involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
“One third of females and one quarter of males are the direct victim of intimate partner violence, and twenty percent of children will be directly exposed to violence in their home. If someone confides in you, believe them,” says Jeannie Higdon, Family Support Services Program Manager in the agency’s Central Region.
Two services from Children’s Home & Aid that aim to care for children and families exposed to violence are the Butterfly Project and Family Visitation Center (FVC) in the agency’s Central Region. Jeannie Higdon tells us there are numerous warning signs of domestic violence such as controlling and regressive behaviors, fear of separation from a caregiver, unexplained body aches, anxiety and more.
Children’s Home & Aid’s Butterfly Project and Family Visitation Center provide therapeutic intervention services to families and children exposed to and impacted by violence. This year, the Butterfly Project and FVC served a combined total of 43 families and 49 children.
Since 2009, the agency’s Family Visitation Center in Bloomington has offered a safe, neutral site for supervised visitation and exchanges for families experiencing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The FVC has various security protocols to enhance safety and procedures so neither parent has contact with the other parent. A federal grant received this fall will allow an additional 75 families throughout the 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes Ford, Livingston, Logan, and Woodford counties, to participate in safe exchanges and supervised visitation.
“We offer parents and children a place to spend time together free of worry, stress, or fear,” says Jeannie.
Children’s Home & Aid’s Butterfly Project provides therapeutic intervention to families and children exposed to and impacted by violence. The Butterfly Project supports the family to help the child heal through their relationship with the non-offending parent. The program addresses the issue of children’s exposure to violence by providing community education, training and direct services to children, ages 0-13.
The national domestic violence hotline 1.800.799.7233 is always available to link those in need to local resources.
The Family Visitation Center in Bloomington, IL shown above