“When I was coming home I heard this loud commotion coming from the house,” said Mary Charles as she recalled a moment she witnessed domestic violence in her own village in St. Lucia. “He was an alcoholic and when he came home from work he kept shoving her head, kept shoving her head,” said Ms. Charles. “She didn’t fight back; she was too afraid,” Ms. Charles commented. “His first wife left him and took his children with her for the same reason: the abuse,” she said.
Unfortunately, this is the story of many people who live in the Bronx. Since opening in April 2012 through December 2012, the New York City Family Justice Center in the Bronx has served 13,455 new clients who were in search of domestic violence services. Pelham Parkway members, who have been surveyed, believe that domestic violence has a negative impact on the child or children in the home. They added that a possible solution to help decrease future domestic violence is to educate children about it.
Mary Charles is originally from St. Lucia where the incident took place in her home-town. She has been living in the Bronx since August 1981. Ms. Charles is a grandmother of two and has an only child. Domestic violence “is not a laughing matter,” she commented.
There are a number of non-profit organizations in the Bronx that are created to help those in need including domestic violence victims. The Jewish Board of Family and Children Services is one of them. A spokeswoman from the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services said domestic violence, “should be taught as early as in preschool.” She added that, “they (children) should learn about anger management and conflict resolution,” she added.
Sanctuary For Families is also another non-profit organization that moves families from shelters to permanent houses. They also assist victims in finding jobs before leaving them on their own. Annually they reach over 10,000 domestic violence survivors and their children through direct services alone. Sanctuary For Families is also located in the Bronx.
In a 2008 press release with the Daily News, Catherine Shrugrue dos Santos of Sanctuary For Families stated that, “Economic dependence traps women in abusive relationships,” she said. “Economic independence allows them to escape.” Ms. Santos said that the hope is that the victims will, “go from surviving to thriving.”
Karen Smith is resident of Pelham Parkway and a nursing student at Bronx Community College. She has one semester of school left before graduating. Ms. Smith is twenty-six years-old now and has witnessed domestic violence in her own home. Ms. Smith said that when she was about ten years-old her father would oftentimes abuse her mother, both physically and verbally.
Both her parents have four children together but soon her mother “couldn’t take it any longer,” she said. She recalled her mother fighting back and not being submissive to the abuse. “He (father) realized that he could not do the same thing with her as his first wife,” she said. “She (first wife) did not do anything; she did not fight back,” she added. Her parents are no longer living together.
When asked if the constant fighting in the home affected her Ms. Smith said no but mentioned that it did affect her brothers. “They are like so angry,” she said.
“Even the older one,” she continued. “He is in a relationship and he hits his girlfriend.” Ms. Smith said it is hard to talk to him because he does not listen to anyone.
Ms. Smith believes that domestic violence should be taught in schools because “they (children) might be going through it and they do not know. They see it every day,” she said.
The New York Family justice Center has supervised 3, 274 children in the Bronx from April 2012 through December 2012.
Ms. Smith’s advice for parents would be, “Do not think about yourself. Think about your children, how everything will affect them,” she said. Again she echoed, “Think about your children.”