Topics for Discussion

Witness to Violence:  A Hatfield Family Story deals with many important human development topics.  Paul Hatfield suffered severe abuse while still a toddler.  That abuse continued to drive violence into the lives of many people, both his loved ones and near strangers.  These pages detail painful and life-threatening violence that the abused toddler  grew to perpetrate against others. But as difficult as some of the stories are to read, this tale is one of hope. In many families early child abuse creates multi-generational cycles of horrible pain. The hope in this family’s story is that violence did not poison the next generation.  Considering this outcome, what conversations come to mind?

  • Do you see a relationship between child abuse and violence in the wider society?
  • What does the phrase “conspiracy of silence” mean to you?
  • In the story, little Dianna called law enforcement to help stop one of her mother’s violent beatings.  She was told “the Sheriff won’t come to Paul Hatfield’s no more.” What do you think of that?
  • The author links perseverance, kind strangers and faith as the safety-net that carried her out of the cycle of violence.  Does this make sense to you or do you have a different opinion/explanation?
  • The term “Cycle of Violence” was coined to describe a pattern that batterers (people who beat or otherwise abuse others) and their victims routinely live.  The four stages  in the cycle have been identified as Calm, Tension Building, Abusive Incident, Making Up. How might a child who lives in this domestic situation view the world?
  • Has there been a kind stranger who has made a significant positive impact on your life? Will this book help you be more alert to opportunities for you to be the kind stranger?
  • Perseverance and resilience are related.  How do you view the two concepts?
  • What are the most important factors that help survivors  move forward toward a thriving, happy and healthy life?
  • As children become teens they can begin to make choices for themselves.  How can we equip them to make good decisions and learn self-care?
  • The author states that it was important to both her and her sister to never be viewed as a victim.  Why do you think that is?