The Silent Victims; Children of Domestic Violence Left in Limbo When Domestic Abuse Turns Tragic, Orphaned Kids Become Torn between Divided Families

By Conner, Story Deirdre | The Florida Times Union, October 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

The Silent Victims; Children of Domestic Violence Left in Limbo When Domestic Abuse Turns Tragic, Orphaned Kids Become Torn between Divided Families


Conner, Story Deirdre, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Story by DEIRDRE CONNER

In the news reports you read about his mom -- if you remember them at all -- Ahmareon Ellis was mostly a postscript.

His role, like that of so many other anonymous children in Northeast Florida, was a simple, chilling detail in the story of his mother's violent death.

You wouldn't know it to meet him. He's a child who lights up his family, the way his mom once did: smart as a whip, with a kind, contagious smile.

Tarnesha Ellis' big family -- they all called her "Tasha" or "Pooh" -- like to recall how in 2005, at age 23, she was working at a good job and planning to buy a house. How she was caring for Ahmareon, then a 3-year-old, going back to church, getting her life together.

But she had a problem. His name was Steve.

"She told me she didn't think Steve was the kind of man she wanted to raise her child," said Mercie Ellis, her grandmother.

It was the only inkling she gave her family that there was something wrong with the on-again, off-again boyfriend who wasn't her son's father. It was the last conversation she ever had with her grandmother.

Steve decided that if he couldn't have Tasha, no one would.

He chased her through her house and broke down the door to the closet where she was hiding. He beat her to death in front of her son.

Then he took Ahmareon out for ice cream and dropped him off at Mercie Ellis' house.

When Steven W. Montgomery was sentenced last year, the judge who imposed the 45-year prison term called his crime the worst murder he had seen, maybe ever.

When Ahmareon saw his mug shot on television that night, he said, "That's daddy."

THE HIDDEN VICTIMS

Ahmareon Ellis is one of a handful of children who are orphaned every year by domestic violence murders, leaving one parent dead and the other imprisoned, or by murder-suicides. Some are high-profile, such as the 11-year-old who witnessed his father kill his mother and then himself at Baptist Medical Center this year. Mostly -- but not always -- their fate is described this way: "The child at the scene was unharmed."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Children are the missing element in the public's understanding of domestic violence, said Betsy McAlister Groves, a social worker and director of the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center.

"The children may be physically unharmed, but they are not psychologically unharmed," she said. "The message about how children are affected is critically important. We call them the hidden victims."

The effects of domestic violence can reach deep into a family tree, especially if children don't receive proper support and counseling, said Sharon Youngerman, an expert in child counseling and executive director of Quigley House, a shelter in Clay County.

"They may seem to get over it," she said. "But as they become adults, they become more likely to be victims of it or perpetrate it."

That uncertain future never makes it to the headlines. There's little research on the subject of children left orphaned by domestic violence because the veil of silence is so widespread.

Donna Cohen, a University of South Florida professor who has written about murder-suicide and domestic violence homicide, said information is scarce when it comes to studies of children orphaned by such events. Researchers find that only about a quarter of families are willing to speak with them about the impact of such traumatic events, Cohen said.

"The families really are co-victims as well as the people who are killed," she said. They struggle with feelings of shame and guilt. They wonder if they could have, should have done more.

There's only one way to describe it, said Jacksonville resident Anita Samuels: "It's pure hell."

A CHAOTIC AFTERMATH

It was seven years ago when Samuels' oldest daughter was murdered by her abusive husband. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Silent Victims; Children of Domestic Violence Left in Limbo When Domestic Abuse Turns Tragic, Orphaned Kids Become Torn between Divided Families
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.