An estimated 1,000 children are present during episodes of domestic violence each year in Santa Barbara County, and the experience can leave them scarred. CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) and its Domestic Violence Therapy Program seek to provide support for these traumatized youth with support from companies such as Verizon, which provided a $20,000 grant through its Verizon Foundation.
One CALM client, “Michael,” reported that the scariest day of his life was when he saw his mom bleeding because her boyfriend hit her. The police came, and yet Michael still felt terrified. Fortunately, Michael came to CALM. He found a therapist who helped him tell his story.
Michael also started attending CALM’s Domestic Violence support group for kids his age, while his mom was in a group with other mothers. Michael was surprised to learn that he was not the only kid whose caregivers fought and sometimes hurt each other.
One day all the kids worked together on creating a safety plan, so they would know what to do if their families were in danger. Having that plan made Michael feel much better; now he knew what to do if his mom ever got hurt again.
“Thanks to the support of Verizon, CALM can continue to offer vital support to parents and children whose lives have been traumatized by intimate partner violence,” said Cecilia Rodriguez, executive director of CALM.
CALM’s work with victims of domestic violence is strength-based, and the programs train and empower women to trust themselves and stand on their own. Mothers also learn parenting skills and how to support their children in their recovery from trauma. Group work creates a safe place for children to share their feelings, learn that they are not alone, and that what took place is not their fault. This learning is essential to helping stop the cycle of violence. CALM’s partnership with Verizon will help support the delivery of treatment services to make it possible for CALM to better serve children and families suffering from domestic violence.
“Verizon is pleased to partner with CALM on its efforts to help children exposed to domestic violence cope with the trauma and become confident and vibrant individuals,” said Jesus Torres, director of government and external affairs for Verizon. “We are committed to breaking the cycle of violence through effective partnerships with organizations like CALM.”
— Jennifer Guess is a publicist representing CALM.