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fathersday-blog

Celebrate Father’s Day with the Hotline

fathersday-blogThis Father’s Day, we want to spread the message that male victims of domestic violence deserve support, resources, and hope for a healthy future. We know that regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, men suffer from domestic violence. According to the CDC, one in seven men will be a victim of intimate partner violence – including emotional, verbal, and physical abuse – in his lifetime. At the Hotline, we believe that all people have the right to feel safe, happy, and respected in their relationships.

We also want to honor the many men who work to end abuse and serve as positive role models for their families and communities. Male voices can play a crucial role in the movement to end domestic violence – in fact, they are often on the other end of the line when people contact the Hotline or our partner organization, loveisrespect. Andrew, one of our advocates, had this to say when asked about his role:

The gift of doing this work as a man is that you find that you can be a source of strength and a trusted ally. No matter what we are told (or what we believe about ourselves, our male voices, or our masculinity), we can be among those empowering voices of care, compassion, and support. No one can ever truly walk in anyone else’s shoes, but we can learn to see things we hadn’t seen before. What I think we start to see as more men get involved in [this] work is that common ground is always out there to be found.

Evan, also an advocate at the Hotline, says:

“I think being a male advocate can be helpful to women who contact us because it lets them know there are men who are on their side, working to end domestic violence. It is also important for male victims and survivors, because they have a safe place to share their stories without the fear of judgment from family and friends.”

Is there a man who has made a positive difference in your life? Celebrate him during the month of June by:

  • Sharing on social media. If you tweet at us (@ndvh) about a male friend or family member you respect and admire, we’ll retweet you!
  • Making a donation to the Hotline. Your generosity will help ensure that our advocates are on the other end of the line for men and families who need assistance. Donate directly to the Hotline here.
  • Shopping with AmazonSmile. Need a Father’s Day gift? Shop through the AmazonSmile program and Amazon will donate an extra $5 to the Hotline.

Additionally, we’d like to acknowledge the numerous organizations that are dedicated to engaging and supporting men in healthy ways, including:

  • A Call To Men works to “create a world where all men and boys are loving and respectful and all women and girls are valued and safe.”
  • White Ribbon is “the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.”
  • GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project envisions “a future where individuals, communities, institutions and policymakers are all working together to increase awareness, reduce the incidence of domestic violence, and foster an environment in which all survivors have equal access to quality services regardless of their gender identity/expression and/or sexuality.”
  • Men Can Stop Rape’s mission is to “mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.” Their website also has a list of men’s anti-violence organizations across the country.

Please join with us this Father’s Day to support the men and fathers suffering from domestic violence, and honor those who work to create a world free from abuse.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Father’s Day & Survivor’s Guilt

Father’s Day can be very difficult for a family still experiencing the aftermath of family violence.

For a mother whose former abuser is the father of her children, she might feel guilty as she watches the families around her celebrate fathers and know that her children won’t be honoring their dad. She might feel that she is doing her children an injustice by separating them from their dad, even though being together meant that the abuse continued.

For a father who is separated from an abusive partner, he too might feel like he didn’t do the right thing by breaking up a family, as he watches other families celebrate together. He may feel pangs of guilt that he isn’t a “good dad” because he pulled his children away from their mother.

In times like these, parents need to remember that leaving an abusive relationship is ultimately healthier for a child than staying with an abusive partner.

Even if an ex partner was not abusive to the children, they were more than likely still affected by the abuse. Children are far more perceptive than they are given credit for, so if something was happening in their home they more than likely knew. Growing up under the same roof as domestic violence can have a profound impact on children, both physically and emotionally.

Witnessing domestic violence can affect children’s future relationships. It can mean that they are more likely to be abusive or abused. Children who grow up in a home where abuse occurs often have trouble connecting with, trusting and engaging with an intimate partner. This can lead to a lifetime of solitude or unhappiness.

Children who witness domestic abuse sometimes internalize the situation and begin to blame themselves for what is happening. They feel that they are the cause of the violence. These children often suffer from intense depression, suicidal tendencies, high anxiety levels and sometimes even develop post traumatic stress disorder.

Some children do the opposite, though, and externalize their home life (Safe Start Center). They can become highly aggressive or unruly, lashing out and misbehaving in other aspects of their life.

Witnessing domestic violence in the home can affect children physiologically, too. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that children who live in violent households are at a higher risk of developing stomach problems or chronic headaches. They often have trouble focusing and learning in school.

It’s absolutely normal for parents to feel guilty for separating their children from the other partner on Father’s Day and other holidays. In fact, it shows how much they care about the happiness of their children. However, it’s important to remember that children are much safer, happier and healthier when they are not living in an abusive environment.

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Happy Father’s Day

Fathers play an important role in both the domestic violence movement and in teaching their children about healthy relationships. Kenny Wallace, NASCAR driver and friend of The Hotline, once explained the responsibility he felt as a supportive husband and father. “I want to send out the message that hitting is never acceptable and to be respectful of your loved ones,” said Wallace. “I want to set an example as a loving husband and father that any type of violence is never ok.”

Fathers who model respectful relationship behaviors and talk about domestic violence with their children, help further prevention efforts by educating the next generation. Men’s groups like Men Against Violence, Men Can Stop Rape, Men Rally For Change and countless other men’s organizations are doing inspiring work to promote healthy relationships and end domestic violence and sexual assault.

To celebrate Father’s Day, we want to highlight some important ways that a father’s behavior positively affects his children.

Fathers Help Early Learning

Babies learn rapidly from everything they experience. Did you know that the number of words a father uses when a child is two years old impacts the child’s vocabulary a year later? (see source 1) Fathers can be very crucial to a baby’s development, influencing everything from the child’s social skills to their ability to problem solve. (2) Because early development has a profound influence on the child’s life, fathers who promote happy relationships in their home help make sure that their child is in both an environment, and mental place, conducive to learning.

Fathers Can Teach Healthy Behavior

Talking to children about what relationships should look like is as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street. Children should know how to be safe in every area of his or her life. By opening a dialogue, dedicated dads can have a positive impact on a child’s understanding of relationships.

Fathers Can Provide an Anchor

A father can be a steady and calming presence in a child’s life. Children whose fathers are committed to them and their family have an established sense of reliability and devotion in their understanding of loving and caring for another person. Children will know that they can turn to a parent in times of trouble, for example, if a child is experiencing dating abuse. Having parents who will listen and help allows children the chance to safely express their feelings and get the support they need.

Fathers Can Model Healthy Behaviors
Because actions speak louder than words, showing respect to others in front of children is the easiest way to incorporate respectful behavior into his or her daily routine. Fathers often teach without words by demonstrating to their kids how to respond in different situations by communicating effectively and managing conflict well themselves. We all learn by examples, and fathers can be motivational examples for their children.

Father’s Day doesn’t only celebrate dads, but all positive male figures in our lives. We appreciate everything fathers and other supportive men do to help children and families lead healthy and happy lives. Have a safe and special Father’s Day!