By Crystal Thompson
Many abused children come from a home where abuse is focused not only towards the child, but between the father and the mother, as well.
Roxanne Ross, Director of District IV HRDC Domestic Violence said that in recent years her program has undergone changes to focus more attention on children who come from homes where domestic violence occurs.
The Haven, which began as a safehouse for battered women has now expanded to include advocacy for the children of these victims.
The Haven offers a child's playroom complete with age-appropriate games and toys.
Children who come to the shelter with a battered mother are offered a chance to participate in groups focusing on expression through art and activities.
Children are usually given the opportunity to talk one-on-one with trained social workers about their feelings, without the mother present.
Ross said that the idea for the Haven's children's playroom came when she was working at the shelter one day and noticed that her own child had nothing to do.
Ross said that she decided then and there to clean out one of the two living room areas, give it a new coat of paint and create a playroom out of it.
That was nearly two years ago, she said, and since then she has worked, along with many others, to help improve and build on the idea.
Ross said that a lot of the focus of domestic violence has shifted in recent years from strictly the battered woman to the effect on her child or children.
"The main focus has been to make sure the children learn that it's not their fault," she said. Ross added that lately The Haven has been very slow, "and that's a good thing," she said. Ross said that local domestic violence statistics have dropped recently, which she attributes to local law enforcement cracking down on violence situations and enforcing orders of protection.
Terry Hanson and Tracie Pyette, both of HRDC will be hosting a crisis intervention/volunteer training workshop on child abuse and the effect of domestic abuse on children on Wednesday, May 9.
For more information about this and other services offered by HRDC, call 265-6743.