Domestic Violence Hurts!
Domestic Violence From Your Child’s Perspective “Mommy And Daddy Are
Domestic violence and family violence are interchangeable terms and they
describe a situation that affects every member of the family, especially
children. Family violence creates a home environment in which children live
in overt and covert discomfort and fear. Children who witness family
violence, domestic abuse are affected in ways similar to children who are
themselves physically or psychologically abused. They are often unable to
establish secure and nurturing bonds with either parent.
Children are at greater risk for abuse and neglect if they live in a violent
home. Statistics show that over 3 million children witness significant
violence in their homes each year. Those who see and hear violence at home
suffer psychologically, physically and emotionally and may ultimately
imitate the same behavior towards their peers, teachers and family.
Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to develop social,
emotional, psychological and behavioral problems than those who are not
exposed to such behavior. Recent research indicates that children who
witness domestic violence tend to show more anger, anxiety, and low
self-esteem than children who do not. The trauma they experience can
manifest itself in identification with the aggressor, and the emotional,
behavioral, social and physical disturbances that interfere with their
development often continue into adulthood.
How Children Are Affected
We know that it is very upsetting for children to see one of their parents
(or partners) abusing or attacking the other. Children, depending on their
age and gender, react differently to domestic violence.
Younger children may become anxious, complain of stomachaches, and/or start
to wet their beds. They may find it difficult to sleep, have temper
tantrums, and become developmentally arrested psychologically, emotionally
and behaviorally. Amongst older children, boys may become aggressive and
disobedient, identifying with the aggressor. They may even begin to use
violence as a mechanism to solve problems. Some may turn to substance abuse,
while others may simply drop out of school.
Girls are more likely to internalize their feelings and distress. They may
withdraw from other people and become anxious or depressed and may exhibit
low self-esteem, often developing somatic complaints. They are more likely
to have eating disorders, or do harm to themselves by taking sedatives,
drugs and alcohol, while still others may mutilate themselves.
Children who witness violence at home often struggle with schoolwork. They
frequently suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression and/or posttraumatic
stress disorder, experiencing nightmares and flashbacks.
Children who have witnessed family domestic violence are more likely to
become either abusers or victims themselves. Children tend to copy the
learned behaviors of their parents. Boys learn from their fathers to be
violent to women. Girls learn from their mothers that violence is a way of