Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Children living in violent homes often experience behavioral problems. For example they are at high risk for drug and alcohol abuse as well as delinquency. Often they display disrespect for their mothers and siblings. Girls tend to withdraw, while boys can become more aggressive than normal.

Boys who witness violence are more likely to batter their female partners as adults. Fortunately there is no evidence to suggest that girls who witness their mother's abuse eventually marry men who abuse them. However, these girls may find it more difficult to leave abusive relationships.

In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are at a higher risk of suffering physical abuse themselves. Regardless of whether children are physically abused, the emotional effects of witnessing domestic violence are very similar with the psychological trauma associated with being a victim of child abuse. Research suggests that battering is the single most common factor observed among mothers of abused children.

Approximately one half of batterers also intentionally injure their children physically and/or sexually. Children are also injured unintentionally when a batterer throws household items, strikes a woman who is holding a child or uses weapons.

It makes sense that any child who witnesses family violence experience emotional abuse. The abuse often triggers :

  • Anxiety, depressions, confusion, and embarrassment
  • Guilt over the child's inability to stop the abuse
  • Guilt over the child feeling love for the abusive parent
  • Fear of being left alone
  • Fear of real or imagined danger to the child

Children living in violent homes often experience physical symptoms such as learning difficulties, headaches, ulcers, rashes, hearing or speech problems, sleep or eating disorders. Whether the child is the primary or peripheral victim of family violence, he/she will suffer for actions of the abuser.

Children from violent homes commonly turn to alcohol and/or drugs to cope with their problems while others run away or turn to a life of crime. Most importantly, the risk of the children growing up to become abusers or victims of domestic violence is a great truth. Abuse is learned behavior. Boys who grow up in violent homes are more likely to become abusers themselves, and the girls who grow up in an abusive home are more likely to seek or stay in an abusive relationship. (An excerpt from Phoebe's Home Volunteer Training Manual)

THE FORGOTTEN VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
When most people think about domestic violence, they picture women with broken bones, cuts and bruises. However, men and children are also victims of domestic violence. Statistics show that the number of domestic cases reported as men as the victims are on the rise. Consequently, many men do not report the cases because of the embarrassment they feel admitting a woman hurt them. Furthermore, children suffer whether or not they are physically abused. They often suffer emotional and psychological trauma from living in households where their fathers abuse their mothers or their mothers abuse their fathers.


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