Families Thrive classroom

Hear Our Voices

The four digital stories included on the Hear Our Voices – Stories of Children Exposed to Domestic Violence DVD are powerful stories of what life is like for youth who have been affected by domestic violence.  Over the course of a four-day workshop facilitated by the Center for Digital Storytelling, a courageous group of young people gathered together and shared their stories and learned to edit them into stirring, heartfelt personal videos.

Their thoughtful, honest and insightful words and images will hopefully lead the viewers to ask: What can we, as providers, community leaders, advocates, and policymakers, do to better support children exposed to domestic violence in the future?

The objective of the attached Discussion Guide is to increase understanding about the impact of exposure to domestic violence (DV) on children and young people and provide specific strategies for supporting them. Suggested audiences for viewing stories and participating in discussions include groups of social service professionals, policy makers, community members, faith providers, youth workers, and volunteers. Hear Our Voices Discussion Guide

Marisa’s Story

Marisa speaks of her family’s history with domestic violence, the effect it had on her father, and the steps her mother has taken to stop the cycle of violence for her and her siblings. Marisa’s grandmother died as a victim of domestic violence. Marisa’s father witnessed the violence as a child. As an adult, he became abusive toward Marisa’s mother. While pregnant a third time with Marisa, her mother left her father, determined not to expose her newborn child to the cycle of violence. Marisa talks about her understanding of the effects of domestic violence, and what it means to her that she has been raised free of violence.

This story contains difficult material, but ends on a positive note.

Danielle’s Story

Danielle tells the story of being exposed to domestic violence from very early on-her mother was running away from her abusive father when she was born. Danielle’s earliest memories are of her stepfather, who was very violent towards her and her mother.  She took on the parental role in her family because neither her father nor her mother could take care of her siblings. She describes how her stepfather is an alcoholic and her mother suffers from postpartum depression. Danielle eventually went into foster care, and she talks about the challenges she has had with drug addiction, mental health, and the criminal justice system. Her parting message is that child abuse and domestic violence must be stopped.

This story contains very difficult material to watch.

Carlos’ Story

Carlos’ first memory of his parents is of a fight between them. He talks about a hard childhood-his mom worked outside the home in addition to raising six children. Carlos remembers good times along with the violence between his parents. He tried to protect his mother from his father by talking to him late into the night. As a teenager, Carlos escaped the chaos of his home by becoming involved with a second family-a gang. His description of what he needed and got from the gang highlights the importance he placed on having control over his life. Most of his friends were killed. He ended up going to prison and then getting a high school diploma, extracting himself from the life of street violence, learning to live free from violence, and teaching young people to avoid the traps he fell into.

This story contains moderately difficult material to watch.

Mayra’s Story

In a story peppered with Spanish, Mayra describes her experience with domestic violence while growing up in a seemingly perfect Mexican family. She talks about her father threatening to leave and hitting her mother, and about her mother’s anguished reaction. The situation is never exposed, nobody ever talks about it. By the time Mayra tells the story, the situation has changed and her father seems to no longer be a threat. She speaks of being able to talk to him about anything, except for the violence of her childhood which continues to haunt her.

This story contains moderately difficult material to watch.

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Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children’s Exposure to Violence