After discovering this research, Brian F. Martin, founder of the non-profit organization Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) began his crusade to build global awareness and solutions for what he and now other researchers call childhood domestic violence.
“One of the reasons why there is such low awareness is because most people don’t know what to call it,” Martin says of children who grow up living with domestic violence. “Researchers often call it child witness to intimate partner violence, which has less than 5 percent awareness. And the word ‘witness’ isn’t appropriate because it doesn’t adequately describe the impact.
“There are 40 million adults and 15 million children who experience domestic violence every day but they don’t know what to call it. The fact that they don’t know what to call it is maddening. We needed a new phrase and that is where Childhood Domestic Violence was born.”
To combat the impact, Martin writes in his new book, Invincible, The 10 Lies Your Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence and the Truths to Set You Free, “You need to address the root of the issue first: The self-concept.”
Childhood domestic violence impacts a developing brain and cognitive belief system. It encodes a series of as Martin calls them, ‘lies,’ that a person often grows up to believe as an adult.
In December 2012, the Department of Justice released their Report of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, which went further than any other government endeavor to shed light on the issue and its long-term effects, Martin says. The report’s authors say childhood domestic violence is “one of the most significant challenges to the future of America’s children we have ever known.”
And while he lauds UNICEF and the Justice department for their efforts to acknowledge the effects of domestic violence on children, he notes that the problem still tends to be one relegated to the background in mainstream culture.
“It’s encouraging that governments worldwide are recognizing the alarming scale of the problem. Yet, shockingly, it remains entirely off the radar of our social consciousness,” Martin writes in his preface to Invincible.
There are some resources geared toward providing support to children living in partner-abusive homes, but Invincible is the first resource directly aimed at helping the adults those children of yesterday have become to reach their full potential.
“From the outset, I wanted this book to present as complete a picture as possible of the emotional turmoil that I have seen—and personally experienced—in people who grew up living with domestic violence,” Martin writes.
To date, CDV can be credited with a number of achievements, among them, the production of the award-winning documentary, “The Children Next Door,” and the development of the Emmy-nominated Nick News segment, “Family Secrets, When Violence Hits Home.”
Throughout the text of Invincible, Martin compiles much of the institutional knowledge currently available surrounding Childhood Domestic Violence, and presents it in a way that makes sense to those who need it most, like himself.
“My story is not unique. In the United States alone, more than 55 million adults and children are living with or lived with domestic violence—just as I did,” Martin writes. Statistically, he says, these children are “six times more likely to commit suicide, 50 times more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol [and] 79 times more likely to be violent to someone.”
That is why Martin and his colleagues at CDV are so adamant when it comes to educating the public about the effects of childhood domestic violence. He writes, “Having grown up in that house, there are certain lies you learned in childhood about who you believe you are and they may be holding you back from reaching your full potential and experiencing the happiness that was meant for you.”
After reading an advance copy of Invincible, Amber Pannell wrote in a Good Reads review, “I’m intrigued by this book because the author didn’t only do his own research, he shared his own childhood experiences.”
Kizzie Adam added, “This book hit home for me coming from a domestic violence home. Thanks for writing a real version of what life is like coming from a home with domestic violence.”
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