So today, I have pushed myself to write on the above subject. Today I might be sketchy and jumpy but in future I will have the courage be clearer.

In the occurrence of domestic violence, children are the forgotten lot. Airtime is accorded to the two adults whilst the little humans who’re screaming to be seen and heard are ignored. In fact things might be patched up “to make them comfortable”.

Last week on Thursday my son saw two boys in a position that suggested that they were ‘fighting’. He immediately ran to separate them. These boys didn’t know that my son saw it differently and so they continued and he used force to pull them apart from each other, one boy fell and hit his knee. My son was taken to the disciplinary master that he fought that boy.

But the boys were actually playing; it was a mock fight.

He was seeing danger where there was none.

It was in his mind that those two were going to hurt each other and so he was already in a savior’s apron. Luckily he managed to explain himself out of the situation, the teacher believed him but those children couldn’t. I don’t know how he feels about it.

I got to know about this when we were sharing our daily experiences. And to him it was just a by the way, it’s his sister who brought it up. It’s like his system already ticked the savior box.

Those who said children forget, it’s very far from the truth. Each violent scene lives them with a trigger.

They’ll keep checking their backs in case someone is fighting another and the victim needs saving.

The anxiety disorder may kick in, they might be in a different location from their parents and they’ll be making endless calls just to check if you’re ok, then it would be a joke like “haki my child is so attached to me…” Not knowing that the child had acquired a position of a protector.

Abuse when witnessed by children sets them up to becoming saviors, to their mothers if they were abused making them neglect themselves and stop being normal children and also appear as savior to persons around them, always protecting people from harm. And this is a disaster in waiting if not taken care of.

The shame a couple feels when a member of the community get to know about their fight is the same one a child feels at such circumstances.

On the night of a fight in our house my son was screaming for help and when it didn’t come, he ran to the neighbor’s house to call them to come end the messy scene. At that point he was scared and so he didn’t feel nothing. His age mates were also peeping as he took the seat of the mediator as he pleaded for an end of horrifying scene.

The next day, he couldn’t save his face; I’d pass them playing together but talking in hush tones as they smiled stealing glances at me. He’d shyly face a different direction or he could at times follow me to the house.

Within 3 days I discovered that he had squandered his entire home bank saving in the name of bribing his friends who kept taunting him about his parents fighting.

He confessed he had kept buying them sweets “ndio waache kumwambia babake anapigananga na mamake” A child shouldn’t encounter such statements.

At this point as a parent you swallow the shame to affirm your child.

My daughter, after the taunts that she experienced the morning after the fight of her parents she never left the house; for a whole 3 months. I had to buy that African smiley doll to appease her after tons and tons of hysteria. That doll became her solace.

When we moved to a new place after those months. I’d go looking for her to come back home at dusk. She was always busy playing outside.

Not once or twice but severely she’s made the statement “nilikua nawakataza muache kufight na hamkuskia, now you see…” and the statement ends there. It’s like no one respected her voice. It’s like she had seen the big fight coming. It’s clear she’s self-blaming

Domestic violence destroys children in such ways even the parents cannot comprehend. The society will keep singing….children will forget, yet they immediately acquire a persona that will be a task to shed off.

Children’s self-esteem and innocence gets destroyed whenever they witness abuse.

Children also get psychologically affected.

They also lose touch with normalcy and they cope and do the routines till what’s bothering their minds is addressed.

They kinda feel the shame follows them and they want to speak it everywhere to free their little souls.

When I was summoned to school that my children needed psychological help. I almost lost it. It was heartbreaking to hear their narration to their teachers; one of them couldn’t speak at all but was always aloof since schools opened till closing. She neither played nor talked; she only played and talked at home. Always on fright and flight mode in class.

 Her plays, drawings and words expressed the turmoil within. I sat by the roadside and cried my heart out, I blamed myself for being a bad steward, and I couldn’t protect them from an uninhabitable environment.

But staying in a place of self-blame is unfit, so I sought help. And I have embraced help.

They’re better than then.

I have not gotten over this yet, am also healing. I wouldn’t want them or any other child to face such heinous circumstances ever again.

The conversations the children have brought up after the incidents are heart wrenching, but I have created an environment whereby they will be seen and be listened to. I have learnt to say sorry to the little humans. I have chosen not to overshadow them because they’re children, they will grow into adults one day.

And I have learnt to love them with the right lens.

If am able to, I’ll write how abuse affects a woman socially, spiritually and even how it impacts their careers.

~Emily Omondi

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