When I got home, I went straight to where my children lay sleeping. They slept peacefully, nestled in bed, without a care in the world. My heart felt heavy as I thought of the little shivering bundle I'd held in my arms only minutes before and I cried for her. She deserves to feel safe, to rest peacefully at night, to have a childhood free of worry, anxiety and fear.
My sweet little girl
I'd heard stories about domestic abuse and seen it reenacted in shows and movies, but it had never hit home for me until that night. The harsh and gut-wrenching reality is that there are thousands of children living in an endless nightmare of violence and abuse. The events of that night opened my eyes to a world of pain that lies hidden behind a semblance of normalcy. I did some research and discovered staggering statistics about domestic violence and abuse in the state of New Jersey. The most recent report I could find was for the year 2009 in which 73,709 domestic violence offenses were reported. In 19,940 of those cases there were children present. Sadder still is the statistic that 30% to 60% of perpetrators who abuse spouses/intimate partners also abuse children in the household. Remember, these numbers represent occurrences in the state of New Jersey alone. I know it is impossible to eradicate pain and suffering from every home, for every child. I know that no matter how many children I help, there are still going to be thousands of others that no one will ever reach. But I also know that if I do nothing, the one child that I could have helped will continue to suffer, and I will be responsible. I have made inquires and hope to soon begin volunteering my time to Shelter Our Sisters, a place where not only women, but also their children, can go to find help and refuge from violent situations.
As odd as it may sound, I felt compelled to share this story with you because I want my voice to speak for her. We shop, go to school, go to work and ride the bus with silent victims every day. We live in complacent ignorance of the horrors that they'll have to face when they get home. It is the children that are the most vulnerable and that pay the steepest price. Please, take some time today to think of what you can do to help.
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.