Every day across our state, the lives of men women, and children are being threatened due to abuse and neglect. While the state of Texas has caring professionals who seek to serve you and your community when people may be facing circumstances involving domestic and family violence that cannot make up for the difficulties that you and your family may be facing on an everyday level. While there may be opportunities for Child Protective Services, law enforcement, and other well-intentioned persons to help your family the bottom line is that you need to take responsibility for your family as much as possible and understand that you can take action and be proactive about doing what is right and best for yourself and children.
While you and your family may be acutely feeling the effects of family violence in the home make no mistake that your community suffers when you are being abused or your children are. Being able to establish a permanent and safe home for your children free of concern over their physical and mental well-being is something that can benefit everyone in your family. Preventing incidents of domestic and family violence is a noble goal to have for you. Although it is not always possible to prevent these types of incidents from occurring you can set out to protect yourself and your family by being vigilant and taking action when able.
That begins and ends with being able to identify circumstances that are not appropriate or where danger associated with abuse may be around the corner. For instance, have you thought critically about your relationship with your spouse or significant other in terms of whether being in the same home as him or she could be the source of potential violence for you or your children? If not, then you are overlooking the most likely circumstance that would potentially lead to violence occurring to you or your children. It is much more likely that someone that you are close to commits an act of violence against you than a stranger. Sometimes it can feel like this is not the case, but the reality is that family violence is much more likely than violence from outside the family.
Next, are you aware of any acts of violence against your children that you have not reported to the authorities? The instinct some of us might have would be to treat violence related to our families as an in-house matter brother then something that should be discussed with professionals like Child Protective Services. However, sometimes the best way to get help for situations like this is to seek assistance from those who have been able to successfully help families just like yours. Child Protective Services can take an anonymous report of abuse or neglected children and turn that into a great resource for families to improve their quality of life and significantly limit the chances of harm occurring to children. By not reporting incidents of abuse or neglect you were doing your family a disservice epitaxially putting your child in additional harm's way.
The role of Child Protective Services in investigating matters related to family violence
Child Protective Services is a subgroup of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Protecting the vulnerable from abuse and neglect is the stated mission of Child Protective Services. Reports come into Child Protective Services every day by the thousands regarding alleged acts of abuse or neglected children. The job of Child Protective Services is to investigate these reports and determine if sufficient evidence exists to conduct an investigation. CPS will interview relevant parties, speak to you and the child's other parent, and collect documentary evidence such as school records and hospital records to determine whether or not abuse or neglect of your child has occurred.
The agency can work with your family two remove dangerous persons from your home, take temporary custody of your children if necessary and work on family-based safety services that can help to alleviate concerns in your home regarding the safety and well-being of your children. If you have been the victim of family violence, then Child Protective Services can work with you to get set up to contact appropriate assistance in your area that can keep you safe and walk with you on a road towards see if our relationships for you and your family.
However, it is not as if Child Protective Services can have an employee on every street corner in your neighborhood. Rather, to protect family members and children Child Protective Services relies upon people in your community, just like you, to identify sources of abuse and neglect and make reports of those cases to their agency. Abuse and neglect kind of relate to the mistreatment of children, physical abuse, neglect, psychological mistreatment, and also sexual abuse. Child Protective Services works hand in hand with the medical community, psychiatric professionals, and teachers to coordinate care across many levels for children.
Additionally, there are a group of people in the professional world who must report suspected incidents of abuse and neglected children to Child Protective Services or law enforcement. Doctors, nurses, health care workers, teachers, and school counselors are just a few of these professionals. Additionally, persons that work with you on a domestic violence level may also be required to report incidents of abuse or neglected children that they come across. This is in addition to members of your family, friends, neighbors, and even members of your religious community including religious leaders.
The bottom line is that family and domestic violence is not something that is limited to one group of people. Rather, domestic and family violence affects all people in all communities. From my experience as a family law attorney, there is some degree of overlap between child abuse and neglect as well as domestic violence against spouses and significant others. To begin with, in today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan I would like to discuss some of the observations that I have made in my time working as a family law attorney regarding the abuse and neglect of children in the relationship with domestic violence.
I recommend that if you have any questions or concerns about the material that we have covered in today's blog post that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan immediately. When it comes to issues related to abuse and neglect of children and also violence against adults, time is true of the essence. The last thing you want to do is wait for something to go wrong before moving forward with contacting an authority or an attorney who can help you. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan is experienced and well-positioned in helping people in your shoes work through problems in their relationships to help solidify their family now and moving into the future.
The relationship between abuse and neglect of children and domestic violence
if you have been the victim of domestic violence in the past and have children living in the home with you it can be an incredibly damaging situation for the children. Children oftentimes will witness situations like this and feel helpless because they are unable to do anything to stop the violence or to protect themselves. Even if you believe that your children have largely been kept out of the loop when it comes to violence you may be surprised to learn that most children in violent households will speak to you have been witnesses of violent acts in the past. Children can carry with them the scars of witnessing these acts even if they were never actually abused themselves. Merely being in the same household and having witnessed these experiences that you are going through can be incredibly damaging. As a result, you need to learn about these situations so that you can act as best you can in your circumstances to protect yourself and your family from future harm.
Unfortunately, children can be used as a second set of eyes to spy on you with instructions to report back to them about how you've been acting or other behavior that you have engaged in. You should be aware of the type of questions being asked if you buy your children. If the questions you are being asked by your child seem out of character or sound like they were crafted by an adult you should be prepared to address that directly with your spouse, Co-parent, or partner.
Additionally, abusive people tend to utilize children as walking guilt trips. By this I mean that if you're Co-parent spouse or significant other has abused you in the past then he or she may use your children 2 control you further. For example, if your significant other gets the impression that you are thinking of leaving the relationship then he or she may send your child to you with math so subtle message that the child would be upset if he or she had to live in a separate household from the abusive spouse or Co-parent. While it can be difficult to determine if this type of manipulation is going on if you can cast a critical eye toward what your child is saying you may be able to stop this type of coercion and manipulation in its tracks from becoming even more abusive towards your child.
Another factor to potentially consider is your child may be inadvertently harmed in a physical sense because of the abuse perpetrated against you. Accidents happen and with their child near the violence, he or she may not be able to anticipate certain things that go on. As a result, with the inability to anticipate bad actions by your Co-parent and with you being distracted and unable to protect your child, he or she may be injured as collateral damage in a violent episode by your spouse or Co-parent. I've seen many times how apparent sodas yourself who's holding a child are also hit or slapped because of an angry tirade by an abusive parent or spouse.
What are the potential effects of domestic violence on your children?
The chances of your child being overlooked or otherwise neglected due to family violence going on in the household are substantial. Additionally, we have already seen how physical abuse of your child can occur in situations where you are being abused as well. Risking your child seeing traumatic events and goings-on in the home can forever shape their psyche and influence how they perceive the world. This is not the future that you want to encourage your child to have period unfortunately, you were in the position where you are having to make decisions about your child's well-being now and in the future while you are being physically abused or otherwise harmed. It is certainly asking a lot of you to care for yourself and your child during a difficult time like this.
Children can begin to have behavioral problems almost immediately after being exposed to family violence. This is not a cognitive science blog post or anything like that but from what I have read it is observed children can immediately suffer harm that results in their having behavioral and emotional problems that are displayed by being angry, hostile, or disobedient. Sometimes children display side effects associated with family violence by being with John from family or even emotionally distant when he or she otherwise would not be. These are some warning signs for you to consider and watch out for in your own home.
Another extremely unfortunate byproduct of being a witness to family violence is that your child may end up viewing violence as being acceptable in their own lives. For women, this looks like your daughter accepting that violence is simply a part of life and therefore accepting or even seeking out partners in the future who are violent themselves. For your sons, this could mean the same thing or could mean that your son suffers from a lack of conflict resolution skills where he was sort of violent readily when faced with this stressful or unideal situation.
In an immediate sense, children all process family violence in different ways. Your younger children may regress in terms of their bathroom habits, sleeping, or eating. Angry children may suffer a sleep regression where they wake up in the middle of the night crying or refuse to go to bed in the early evening. Eating it's another area where your child may suffer a great deal of harm. Consider that your child may attempt to exert some degree of control over their lives by refusing to eat or only eating certain foods. Finally, your older children may suffer in the classroom as their grades and concentration may slip due to concern regarding you and the family violence that is going on in their home.
Identifying specific harms based on the age of your child
As you may have imagined, different children display certain types of harm in different ways when it comes to physical and mental abuse. When we consider small children and infants, we look at things like developing extreme attachments to their caregivers like daycare teachers, grandparents, and parents. Even if you cannot specifically .2 a time where your child witnessed violence, he or she certainly remembers it. As a therapist once said about stress and anxiety, the body keeps the score. Your child's body will certainly remember the stress and trauma that they went through as a result of the violence even if their brain does not.
Older children that are school-aged will almost certainly struggle with developing relationships and trusting others at school. It can be difficult to make friends and difficult to succeed in class when you have problems with your emotional stability. As your school-aged children become adolescents and teenagers the chances of their suffering from abuse increase. Children at this age begin to engage in dating relationships and otherwise partaking in adult activities like this. Mental health impairments like depression and anxiety are of particular concern for children of this age group.
Again, it is not fair to you as a victim of family violence to be in a position where you are also having to look out for the well-being of your children and to play psychologist and detective into the limitations that they are going through. However, if you can be Urgent about protecting yourself that will go a long way towards helping your children stay safe, as well. While there is no magic solution to any of this being intentional about how to protect yourself and ultimately exit a dangerous situation it'll be for the best. There are mechanisms within the world of family law to help you in this regard. Reach out to our law office today to discuss those options that may be available to you and your family.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.