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Woman Arrested for Child Abuse at Battered Women's Shelter

09-Jun-2014

A woman was arrested for child abuse last week after she allegedly smashed a bowl of hot grits onto her 2-year-old daughter's head. Ironically, the incident occurred at a location designed to provide a safe haven from domestic violence.

Police were called to DaySpring Villa, a Sand Springs women and children's shelter for victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking, last Sunday afternoon. Fellow residents told police that Arayanna Charnaye Gordon, 23, began screaming and cursing at her toddler daughter, who had accidentally dropped her bowl of grits onto the floor. The mother then grabbed another Styrofoam bowl full of hot grits and shoved them into the side of the toddler's face with enough force to nearly topple the child's booster seat.

According to a local news report of the incident, Gordon told police, "I smacked my daughter because she never listens to me. I don’t even want my daughter anymore. I’m tired of her and was going to give her away."

The little girl was taken to another emergency children's shelter, and her mother was booked into the Tulsa County Jail, where she is held on $50,500 bond for child abuse and resisting arrest.

Hurting a child is a terrible thing. That this alleged incident occurred at a domestic violence shelter, though, seems to indicate something about the "cycle of violence" that domestic abuse brings. It is likely that Gordon herself is a victim of violence, and perhaps has no positive parenting role models. Dealing with a pattern of abuse and lack of support can cause tremendous stress that only serves to perpetuate the violence.

A New York Times article indicates that approximately one-third of abused children grow up to be abusers themselves. While this means that the majority of abused children do not grow up to be violent, a significant number do perpetuate the vicious cycle. in the article "Sad Legacy of Abuse: The Search for Remedies," New York Times journalist Daniel Goldman writes that the degree of violence a child suffers can have a tremendous impact on his or her future:

Key factors found to worsen the long-term impact of abuse are: abuse that started early, abuse that lasted for a long time, abuse in which the perpetrator had a close relationship to the victim, abuse that the child perceived as particularly harmful, and abuse that occurred within a cold emotional atmosphere in the family. These factors, researchers say, help identify which children need treatment most urgently. . . . There are disproportionate numbers of victims of abuse among prostitutes, violent criminals, alcoholics and drug abusers, and patients in psychiatric hospitals. The more severe the abuse, the more extreme the later psychiatric symptoms."

Again, not every victim of abuse will grow up  to be an abuser. In fact, most do not. However, there is a statistically significant number of victims of physical and sexual abuse who are caught in a cycle of violence. For these people, intervention, treatment, and support may be more effective than incarceration in breaking the cycle.

If you are the victim of domestic violence in Oklahoma, help is available. Call the Oklahoma Safeline at 1-800-522-7233 (SAFE) or view a list of domestic violence shelters in Oklahoma here.



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