Tampa, FL – Depression, anger, fear—these are emotions that not only the victims of domestic violence experience, but also the children who witness it. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it is important to remember that when children witness emotional and physical abuse to a parent, it can lead to many other issues. That’s the reason it’s important for a supportive adult, such as a Guardian ad Litem, to be there for these children.
From post-traumatic stress disorder, to academic struggles, aggression, and chronic physical health problems, children witnessing intimate partner violence can experience lifetime harm. Experts believe that a child can recover more quickly and completely from this trauma when they have a strong relationship with a consistent and caring adult. Guardian ad Litem volunteers are often in this role after a child enters foster care.
“Our volunteers help identify issues and advocate for services and resources to help children who have lived with domestic violence and many other situations,” says Tabitha Lambert, Guardian ad Litem Circuit Director. “Volunteer advocates for children like ours will be part of a multidisciplinary team in order to determine and represent the child’s best interest.”
Children of all ages living in a violent environment may have trouble sleeping, younger children may become more clingy or prone to tantrums, and older children may be more prone to addiction and entering into their own abusive relationships. Children can recover from trauma given the right services and supports, and a Guardian ad Litem will advocate for trauma-informed, evidence-based screening, assessment and treatment. Volunteers will also work to support the child’s relationship with his or her non-offending parent. For most children, a strong relationship with that parent is a key factor in helping them heal.
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Program or become a volunteer, please call (813) 272-5110 or visit www.galtampa.org. To get help, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119, or go to www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/domestic-violence/map.shtml.