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Mental Health Monday: Impact of living with domestic abuse is magnified during pandemic, especially for kids

Crisis Services of North Alabama provides resources and shelter for anyone in a crisis situation. Sometimes, they need to help out some of the Valley's youngest.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In any given year, anywhere from 133 to 275 million children are exposed to some form of violence in their homes. 

Most of us can say we’ve spent a lot more time at home than we could have ever anticipated over the past year, because of the pandemic. 

We checked in with one organization that’s on the front line helping victims of abuse right here in the Valley. They tell us how even more kids can be falling victim during the pandemic. 

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We spoke with Becky Cecil, the Development Manager at Crisis Services of North Alabama. She tells our reporter, “Now that kids are virtual learning and you’re in an environment where there’s a lot of tension, stress, and possibly emotional or physical abuse-- that always trickles down to the kids.”

Crisis Services of North Alabama provides resources, shelters, care and counseling for anyone in a crisis situation. Sometimes, they need to help out some of the Valley’s youngest, who are caught in the crossfire of an abusive relationship. 

Becky Cecil explains, “It takes a toll on their mental health. So, at Crisis Services, what we do is we not only help that victim of domestic violence, if they have children we do have someone on staff who works with that child-- who gives counseling to that child. It can have long-lasting effects, being in that situation and seeing that sort of relationship going on. What we don’t want is to see that cycle being repeated.”

She says the pandemic brings ideal conditions for abusers to take advantage of their victims. She says, “Domestic violence tends to be a slow path. It’s more and more control. It’s more and more isolation because it’s easier to control somebody in isolation. When you have somebody away from their family, away from their friends and there’s nobody to see what’s going on, that gives the abuser more control.”

Becky works with young people. She teaches 10th graders about respectful and safe dating practices and identifying signs of abuse. So, she knows the pressures students face to succeed in school in any given year. 

The pandemic has magnified that pressure, and dealing with abuse in the home can become overwhelming. 

Becky reminds us, “...Possible emotional or physical abuse-- that always trickles down to the kids. As much as parents may try to hide it, there’s always a trickle-down. Trying to learn in an environment like that is tough. You’re already stressed about school and having to learn and then you have this added stress. So, virtual learning at home in a situation like that, I have to imagine for the kids it’s increasingly stressful.” 

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