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Domestic Abuse: Breaking the Cycle

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Now in the final week of our Courageous Conversations about domestic violence, we are looking more toward the future. 
 
KOLR10's Collin Lingo brings us a story of how we, as a community, can focus on putting an end to the cycle of abuse in the Ozarks. 
 
"It was scary." This isn't the first time Amanda has stayed at Springfield's Harmony House domestic violence center.
 "I stayed at the Harmony House when I was little as well."
 
This is the same place her and her mother once found shelter from her abusive father. 
"I remember just seeing... he would have her cornered, just wailing on her," Amanda recalls.
 
Watching that abuse was a scene she would find herself in for years to come. Though as an adult, she played a new role - the abused. 
"It was... that's just how it was, it was a way of life to me.  The hittings were normal."
 
Now her kids stand where she once stood, watching Amanda suffer like her mother before her.
"It reminded me of watching my mom. I didn't want them to feel like it was normal," says Amanda.
 
So now the question becomes - how do we make sure this doesn't happen to yet another generation?  How do we make sure children, growing up in homes of abuse don't think this is normal?  In short - how do we break the cycle?
 
"Some cases are worse than others."  Misty Boone is the childcare coordinator for Harmony House.  "Kids pick up on a lot more than we give them credit for."
 
Her job is to take care of kids who, like Amanda and now Amanda's children, have seen things most adults couldn't handle, and teach them to properly cope. 
"They pick up on those habits."
 
"My youngest is already showing signs of violent tendencies," Amanda admits.
 
The worst part - behavior is contagious.  "He's been kicked out of day cares for being so violent."
 
"A lot of kids when we get them, they are very aggressive," Boone notes.
 
As for reversing that behavior?  Boone says the answer is simple, but not easy. 
 "People need to reframe the way they look at things so you aren't giving the kid the wrong idea."
 
She says teach them early and often that healthy relationships never involve violence. 
"It's not cute when a kid is picking on you. They start getting those tendencies and if you don't stop it at an early age they just get worse and worse."
 
It's a message Amanda tries delivering to her children every day.  "With my girls, I don't want them to think it's okay for anybody to touch them."
 
Because while they now stand where she once stood.  How do we stop that from happening? 
 
Amanda hopes they'll never have to be where she is now. "You've got to talk about it. You've got to seek help. A lot of people don't."

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