Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

 

Statistics •Research studies report the co-occurrence of spousal abuse and child abuse among 40-60% of families.
•Research indicates that children exposed to domestic violence demonstrate:

◦Higher levels of aggression
◦Lower social and academic competence
◦Elevated levels of traumatic symptoms

•Children who witness violence at home display emotional and behavioral disturbances such as:

◦Withdrawal
◦Low self-esteem
◦Nightmares
◦Aggression against peers, family members, property

•Over 3 million children are at-risk of exposure to parental violence each year.
•In a national survey of more than 6,000 families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.
•Approximately one in five high school girls reported being abused by a boyfriend.
•According to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect, “children in violent homes face three risks”:

◦Risk of observing traumatic events
◦Risk of being abused themselves
◦Risk of being neglected

Impact on Children

Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic violence is present. Children who live in a violent environment:
•Learn to accept violence as a way to resolve conflicts
•Learn to maintain control of others by using threats of violence
•Learn that loved ones have the right to hurt one another
•Often feel guilty for the violence between their parents
•Feel angry toward one or both parents
•Experience anxiety and fear
•Often “protect” the abuser in the face of outside intervention
•Have sleep disturbances such as:
◦Nightmares
◦Bed wetting problems
◦Insomnia
•Have difficulties in school:

◦Staying awake in class
◦Concentrating on work
◦Playing/interacting with peers

•Have poor appetites
•Often confuse love and violence
•Learn unhealthy sex-role stereotypes from parents
•Grow up to be abusers of their own mates or children; or become victims
•May use violence to problem-solve in school, with peers and with family
•Frequently maim or kill animals or hurt siblings

Children and the Cycle of Abuse
•Children are sometimes used as a weapon against the victim.
•Children can be accidentally injured when the batterer is assaulting the victim.
•Children may be used to interrogate the victim’s activities.
•Children may be held hostage or abducted in efforts to punish or gain victim’s compliance.

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