As a country, we honor those who served in the military during foreign wars. It makes good sense that we honor them, because many of those soldiers are greatly traumatized, and all of them are certainly impacted by their service in the war for the rest of their lives. Not unlike the veterans of foreign war, many children who have been abused are greatly traumatized, and all of them are certainly impacted by having been abused for the rest of their lives.
Consider the reality that in more than 90% of child abuse cases the perpetrators are people in the child’s circle of trust: parents, grandparents, other relatives, etc. Of the rest of the cases, less than 10%, most are perpetrated by someone familiar to the child: teachers, day care workers, neighbors, etc. In fact, less than 3% of cases overall are perpetrated by strangers.
(Child Maltreatment by Walter R. McDonald and Associates, American Humane Association, https://www.ndacan.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm)
Based on that, we can truthfully say that the true danger to children in this country is not the slimy stranger with candy.
A difference between soldiers and children, then, is that children do not choose to put themselves in the families or situations where their trauma occurred. Another difference is that children are neither armed nor trained for battle: they are usually completely defenseless. Yet another difference is that the enemy for children is neither faceless nor nameless… it is, most often, someone in their circle of trust who is supposed to love and nurture them. We could go on…
Many people want to turn away from acknowledging that there is a domestic war taking place every single day in this country… and four children die as a result of it. We honor children who die from abuse with the Wall of Tears and Book of Tears. We want, also, to honor children who survive that war… who grow to adults whose silent screams so often go unheard… and we call them Veterans of Domestic Wars because that is exactly what they are.
In fact, all Domestic Violence survivors are Veterans of Domestic Wars… whether their Domestic Violence is Child Abuse, InterPersonal Violence, or Elder Abuse… and so are survivors of sexual assault and stalking. We are currently expanding this project to honor all Veterans of Domestic Wars who break their silence!
Veterans of Domestic Wars Survivor Medallions
Breaking the Silence™ designed and created Veterans of Domestic Wars Survivor Medallions, and we present them to survivors of any form of domestic war (child abuse, interpersonal violence, stalking, sexual assault, homophobic bullying or assault, sexual harassment, and so on) who choose to break their silence by any means.
The first Veterans of Domestic Wars Survivor Medallions were unveiled and presented at the main event of Child Abuse Awareness Week 2007. It is our pledge to continue honoring child abuse survivors and other Veterans of Domestic Wars who have broken their silence by presenting them with their own Veterans of Domestic Wars Survivor Medallions.
The text on the medallion is “Veterans of Domestic Wars” on top and “Survivor” on the bottom. The symbol on each side is the symbol for power. The hands in the center signify unity and diversity.
The medallions are generally presented in a ceremony, where others can bear witness. For those survivors who are not local, if Breaking the Silence™ cannot set up a ceremony at your location and you cannot come to one in Fresno, your medallion will be presented via US Mail and your name will be announced at the next Survivor Medallion Ceremony. Any survivors of any forms of domestic war need only Contact Breaking the Silence™ to make arrangements to claim their Survivor Medallion.
All expenses for the Survivor Medallions are paid by Breaking the Silence™.
VDW Survivor Medallion annd VDW Survivor Medallion Design © Breaking the Silence™ – All Rights Reserved
“Veterans of Domestic Wars” Name Credit: Betsy Salkind