Most Viewed Stories
Domestic violence victims moving forward
In honor of domestic violence month, the Yuma Sun spoke with a family of survivors who are moving forward with their lives.
Although he was only 7 at the time, Sincere Madrid says he still remembers the morning he saw his dad viciously beating his mom.
“I went to my room, locked the door and hid in my closet,” said Sincere, now 12. “I was in there with my light saber with it on so I could see. And I was waiting. I was going to hit him with it. Finally my mom knocked on my door and we left.”
His mom, Amanda, said at one point during the beating, when her ex-husband had her pinned to the floor of the bedroom and was hitting her, she could see the look on her son's face, and it was what helped her get through her ordeal.
“I knew I had to survive and get out,” she said. “That is when it clicked in my head that I don't want him growing up thinking this was right.”
Amanda said her ex-husband, who had either been drinking or doing drugs, had come home at about 4 a.m. that morning and began hitting her and slamming her into the walls. Sincere, she said, heard her screams and came into the room and tried pulling his dad off his mom.
Worried that her son would also get hurt, Amanda said she told him to go hide. She said the beating finally ended when her ex-husband passed out, which is what gave her the chance to get her son and leave.
She said they drove around town for a while before eventually stopping at a fast-food restaurant, where a customer wound up calling the police for them.
Today, both Sincere and his mother Amanda are getting help from the The Healing Journey, a small nonprofit agency that helps improve the lives of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. They are attending the support group and are moving forward with their lives.
According to Dr. Wade McBride, who runs the children's support group Sincere attends, domestic violence affects every member of the family, including the children. He said that the experiences children go through when they are young can have a profound affect their behavior as adults.
“Exposure to violence when you're young has life-long consequences,” said McBride, who volunteers his time at the Healing Journey. “What happens when a child witnesses domestic violence is their sense of normal is skewed.”
McBride explained that children who witness mistreatment might assume that type of behavior is a normal interaction in a couple, not ever knowing that they have learned the wrong behavioral pattern, which could lead them to repeating that history of mistreatment, this time as a perpetrator.
That is why it is important, McBride said, to make sure the children get the help they need as early as possible.
“Positive affirmations about who they are are very important early on. A lot of time they don't have any sense of positive. The person who you trust, the authority figure in your life hurts you, where do you go from there?” McBride said. “They were a victim but it wasn't their fault. Their sense of who they are, their self-esteem, is very low. So what we try to do is teach them what normal really is, and it is normal to have feelings. You don't need to run from them or hide them. It's OK to talk about them.”
Sincere, a student a Harvest Preparatory Academy, said while he still loves his father very much, he understands what he did was very wrong.
“I think he knew I saw him do all that stuff. I don't know why he was doing it,” Sincere said of the years of domestic violence his mom endured at the hands of his father. “I didn't know how a grown-up could be so crazy and stupid. I didn't know all the stuff he was doing until I got older.”
Tragically, Amanda's ex-husband had a history of domestic violence and this wasn't the first time he had beaten her. He is currently serving 10 years in prison for what happened that morning back in May of 2007.
Prior to that, however, he also served two years in prison for attacking and assaulting Amanda.
Amanda, as many women in a cycle of domestic violence do, took her ex-husband back once he got out of prison the first time, believing him when he promised her that things would be different. In her case, it wasn't, and the beatings started within two weeks of his return home.
“I hoped that he had changed. I hoped things would be different,” Amanda said. “I held on to that hope.”
Healing Journey Director Estrella Fitch says family violence creates a home where children live in fear and no child should ever have to go through what Sincere experienced. She said she considered homes where domestic violence occurs war zones because the female (or male) and children are always on guard, constantly waiting for the next incident, never knowing when it was going to happen.
Fitch said a child suffers from the trauma when they witness violence against their mother (or father) and as a result are in a home where neither parent is able to provide them with their basic physical or emotional needs.
Sincere said he has benefitted from the time he has spent at the Healing Journey and wanted to share his story with other children. He wants them to know they aren't alone, other children have gone through it as well and there are places they can get the help they need, like he did.
To contact the Healing Journey call (928) 920-3760.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.