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Letter: Reflecting on children and domestic violence in wake of recent tragedies

To the Editor:

Right now, there are three children residing in DuPage County who must live with the effects of domestic violence-turned-homicide for the rest of their lives.

On July 19, a Downers Grove man killed his wife and then turned the knife he used on himself. An 11-year-old daughter was left to deal with the trauma.

Only a week later, an Addison man bludgeoned his wife to death and attempted to kill one of his two stepsons who tried to intervene.

No one can predict the devastating effect the murders will have on these young lives. At Family Shelter Service, we see the effects of domestic violence on children every day. Growing up in a violent home is a traumatic experience that can affect a child's life, growth and development.

To address the unique needs of these children, Family Shelter developed an extensive program for kids who have repeatedly witnessed domestic violence. Our individual, family and group counseling services help children deal with the effects of trauma.

It is our experience that in at least half of homes where domestic violence occurs, children are present. Children typically make up 50 to 60 percent of our shelter residents.

No one can predict what the outcome will be for the children in Downers Grove and Addison. Tragedies like this are an unfortunate reminder that domestic violence exists in every town, no matter the socioeconomic status or demographic.

As a community, we are all responsible for being vigilant. Family Shelter offers a hotline for victims at 630-469-5650, as well as for concerned family and friends. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in safety. Each one of us can play a role in making that a reality.

Karen Hurley Kuchar, Executive Director, Family Shelter Service, Wheaton

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