Impact of domestic violence on children
IMPACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN
There are no guidelines on parenting; it is something we learn from our parents and our own experiences from childhood and our surroundings. It is possible that abuse may occur unintentionally because of learned behavior, especially if the parents do not understand what abuse is. This does not excuse their actions because there is no abuse that is ever acceptable. Any physical or verbal abuse of a child on a continuous basis will have negative short-term and long-term impacts on the child.
A child’s experience with either direct or indirect abuse, such as witnessing abuse in the home, will have severe consequences. Exposure to abuse increases the risk of developing emotional and behavioral problems. Children will either internalize their issues or wrongfully take their disturbance out on others.
Indirect violence can at times be worse than violence that is physically direct because it is harder to measure the internal impact of living in an environment that is abusive (albeit not physically); one may assume the child is oblivious to what is really going on. Since much of the impact is internal and it is difficult to recognize a child impacted by indirect violence since they are no physical markers, it is difficult to have early intervention for children dealing with this problem. That is why it is important for us to educate ourselves about abuse and the consequences of abuse in order to better our lives as well as the lives of our children.
Research has shown that children who grow up in homes where domestic violence occurs experience the same symptoms and feelings as the person who is being abused. It has a significant impact on the child’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. This impact may be expressed as a difficulty in learning at school, suffering anxiety and fear issues, social awkwardness or growing up to be bullies or abusers themselves, and thus continuing the cycle of abuse.
Children see their parents as a source of peace and safety and they are their primary role models. They are the first people who are able to shape the kind of person children grow up to become. Imagine the impact of having your first source of safety stripped from you at a young age; it creates a loss of the sense of self and a deep lack of trust.
We know that most parents wish for their children to grow up to be productive members of society and to have better lives than they themselves did. With increased awareness of the impact that abuse has on children, one can identify and seek the resources and knowledge necessary to either prevent or interfere when these things happen.