From our foetal days, your fights and arguments with mum affected Rebecca and I. The anguish mum felt in both pregnancies increased her stress hormones (cortisol). Cortisol is neurotoxic and high levels of it can have damaging effects on our brains. You have inadvertently put Rebecca and I at risk of future mental health problems, social issues, and other morbidities. We could have been dead or born prematurely. We were born with only 25% of our brains, just like other babies. Our neurological development depends on what you put in. The first five years of our lives are important to our mental and physical growth. If you fill them with disorganisation and trauma, how do you expect us to turn out in future?
I’m worried about Rebecca’s growth. I’m not even sure about mine because my friends at school say I’m too “childish” and “angry”. No child will play with me. The other day, I beat a boy up at school and I couldn’t understand why the teachers were angry. After all, that’s the solution to everything at home, isn’t it, dad? When you beat mummy because I couldn’t stop crying, she cried so much that she missed my feeding cues. Do you realise that the brain function that teaches empathy develops from simple acts such as lovingly responding to a baby’s cries? Any time you beat or verbally abused her, she missed singing and talking to me, when I woke up from crying myself to sleep. This contributed to my delayed speech. I see the same thing happening to Rebecca. I see her startled reflex, more than I see her smile. I’m sure you don’t realise that she grows more when she sleeps and the wars at home deprives her of sleep. Have you noticed her blank stares? Do you understand that it could be an indication that her brain is not stimulated?
NB: Domestic abuse has cradle to grave effects on children. Bringing them up in abusive environment has lifelong adverse impacts on them. Please don’t suffer in silence. Seek help if you’re being abused at home.
Nola Solomon is a Specialist Public Health Nurse, with a background in Paediatrics. She blogs at www.anethnicnurse.com where this was first published, and lives in Manchester (UK) with her five beautiful children.