The Innocent Victims quote

The Innocent Victims Overview

Our Children Are Wounded:
The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

In Chapter One we are introduced to Sheila, mother of eight-year-old Brandon and six-year-old Jennifer. Sheila rushes to get the kids home and get dinner ready for her volatile, abusive husband Tom.

The water is boiling, the kids are running around the house, the laundry isn’t folded; she hears the key turn in the front door… all hell’s going to break loose but maybe the children won’t see it happen…

Sheila and her children live in fear of Tom’s volatile temper and violent outbursts. This chapter paints the picture, and goes on to discuss the effects of this scenario on the children.

We must realize that even if we shut the door or go into another room our children hear, feel and know that harm is being done to a person they deeply love… we must recognize that our children are wounded, even if they never see the violence or are never hit themselves.

The Chapter goes on to help the adult victim (Sheila in the story) understand and accept that this is NOT okay, it’s NOT her fault, and that staying does NOT protect the children. That she can do something to change this picture.

Understanding Children’s Behavior

The primary objective of Chapter Two is to address the effects of domestic violence on children. In addition, the chapter tries to portray a sense of the enormity of the victim’s burden

Leaving an Abusive Home: Fear, Grief, and Loss

Deciding to leave can be very difficult. Chapter Three attempts to convey a sense of how hard it is to keep things in perspective when being affected by a violent, controlling abuser, and to help the victim envision a way out.

For twelve years Tom has been telling Sheila that she can’t make it on her own; he has threatened to kill her; he has threatened to take the children… When Sheila’s children beg her not to leave for fear of her being killed, this is the time for her to pull together all the strength she has inside…

A great burden is lifted when the family moves out to a shelter, but there is also tremendous grief for the children over the loss of a parent. They still need and love both parents, even the one who is violent and abusive.

Brandon and Jennifer feel so happy and free. They can talk at dinner, they can laugh, they can eat without feeling fear… But Jennifer feels sad and lonely, she misses Daddy picking her up, kissing her and saying, “How’s my little princess?”… Brandon gets mad at Sheila more often now. He says things like, “Where’s Dad? You can’t throw the baseball as good as him. I miss Daddy. Can’t we go home?”

How to Talk and Be With Our Children:
Healing Wounds, Rebuilding Relationships

Although leaving the abusive home takes tremendous courage and resolve, one of the most difficult tasks is rebuilding relationships with the children and helping them heal from the wounds of the abusive home. Chapter Four introduces this issue and discusses ways to approach the healing process.

Brandon is lying on his bed sobbing. Sheila sits down and rubs his back… After a while he calms down. “Why can’t we see Dad?” he asks. “I miss him.” This is such a difficult question for Sheila. She doesn’t want to “bad mouth” Tom to the kids but she wants them to understand that they are better off away from him. She reminds herself of what she has learned about validating their feelings and not feeling obligated to have an explanation or answer for their questions…

“I know you miss your Dad, but right now we can’t see him. The most important thing is for you to always tell me how you’re feeling so I can understand what you’re going through. Tell me more about how it feels to you to be missing Daddy so much.” Brandon starts sobbing again. “I hate you Mom!” he yells through his sobs. “I hate you for taking Daddy away!” He buries his head in the pillow and sobs uncontrollably…

You and your children have the right to a life free of abuse. No matter what feelings you have for the abuser, it is unhealthy for your children, and for you, to stay in an abusive home.

If the issues and story in this book remind you of your family, your children, yourself, please remember that you are not alone. You can get the help and support you need to give yourself and your children a better life.

If you need help, please call the number below for support and direction to resources in your area.

National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

The Innocent Victims is available in English or Spanish for $4.00 per copy. There is no charge for shipping and handling. Sales tax applies if shipped to a California address.

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Photo of Julianne Leavy

About The Author

Julianne Leavy

Julianne Leavy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the President and CEO of Harmony At Home, a non-profit organization with the mission to end the cycles of violence and abuse by empowering children and young adults with the knowledge, skills and confidence to lead healthy and productive lives.

Julianne was born in Los Angeles in 1964 and her family moved to Big Sur when she was 10 years old. She attended Captain Cooper Elementary School, Carmel Middle and Carmel High School. She then went off to college in San Diego and returned home in 1992.

Julianne began her work in graduate school for Psychology in 1993 and in 1997, she created a school-based counseling program called Sticks & Stones to address the need for interventions serving child victims of domestic violence in Monterey County. Sticks & Stones targets children who have learned to express their feelings in unhealthy ways, and who are vulnerable to repeating patterns of violence they learn in their homes and communities.

In 2003, Julianne wrote and published a book called “The Innocent Victims”, which is a handbook that looks at the effects of domestic violence on children and helps caretakers to understand and respond to their needs. The handbook is distributed to agencies and shelters around our nation.

In December of 2004, Julianne, with her brother Mike, founded Harmony At Home and began extending her counseling programs into more schools. Over the past sixteen years, Harmony At Home has impacted over 30,000 children, youth and families in our County alone through counseling, bullying prevention and family support.

Julianne resides in Carmel Valley with her husband Charles. She and Charles have two adult sons.