We all know women raising children with special needs. But in some situations, these women are also dealing with abuse in their relationships privately. Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, states,
"A lot of people see the disability from the outside, but they don't see anything that is going on in the inside, like what types of things are going on with their spouse. Women may be free and open to talk about their children's needs and the disabilities, but they are quiet about the private suffering due to abuse in their home."
Parenting Children With Special Needs Is Difficult In An Abusive Situation
June, a single mom of four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees, was in this situation. She suffered private abuse by her husband, while trying to fulfill the many needs her children required. On the outside, things may have looked well-managed, but the abuse was not seen or recognized because the disabilities were more visible and that is what most people paid attention to. She explains,
"All of my children have been affected by trauma from seeing abuse in the home, in regards to how I was treated by my husband in front of them. He was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive and eventually physically abusive to me in front of them. Regardless of whether or not a child has special needs, the treatment for children who have been impacted by trauma and children that have special needs overlaps greatly."
June adds how she found great value and connection in local and online communities that offered support for parents of children with special needs. For any parent of a child with a disability, finding a community is something that is essential. Orange Socks, is one such organization, that aims to help families find a new normal as they navigate through the grief that comes when they’re told that their little one will be different. For victims of betrayal trauma, the importance of finding a community is just as important and essential.
Children With Special Needs Are Profoundly Impacted By Witnessing Abuse In The Home
The difficulty of being in an abusive relationship while at the same time trying to parent and raise children with special needs is undeniable. The challenges involved in this situation can be unimaginable. June describes how this situation impacted her as a mother,
"I tried very hard to save my marriage. I delved into learning all I could about porn use, unhealthy relationships, overcoming affairs and infidelity, and abuse. It became clear to me that the situation I was in was taking away from my ability to be the best parent I could for my children. So much of the time, I was in trauma repeatedly from daily verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, sexual coercion, and spiritual abuse and it impacted by ability to really be present for my children and advocate for them."
Abuse Must Not Be Normalized Or Modeled For Children With Special Needs
Being in an abusive relationship can hinder a woman's ability to be the best parent she can be because she is in a constant state of trauma. Implementing boundaries and learning about abuse and toxic relationships can help empower women in these difficult situations. June shares the point of intersection that became undeniable for her to realize her situation was not sustainable,
"My son did not speak until he was age 5. The turning point for me was when he started talking, I realized he could start mimicking the verbal abuse he was hearing in the home and repeating the horrific words I was being called by my husband. I knew it was a impacting my children and would continue to impact them. I did not want this abuse to be normalized for my children any longer."
How Trauma Impacts Children With Special Needs