Domestic Violence: Impact on Children
Estimates are that more than 3.3 million children are exposed to physical or verbal abuse each year. Children may directly observe domestic violence or they may be aware of it indirectly. They may be in another room when it takes place, be woken during the night and hear the violence, or see bruising or damaged property after the violence occurs.
The impact of domestic violence on children varies from child to child. When compared with other children, children who have witnessed or been victims of domestic violence host a list of behavioural and emotional problems. These problems include both external and internal behaviours which range from aggression and antisocial behaviours, through to depression, anxiety and low self esteem.
Some children react by becoming overly introverted and shy while others act out and become extroverts. Children in families where domestic violence is present generally grow up prematurely, by taking on additional roles such as nurturer, protector or referee between mum and dad. Quite often, children in this situation isolate themselves from other children in order to hide their situation.
Younger children can show excessive irritability and emotional distress and sometimes their toileting and language regresses. Preschool children may develop aches and pains for no apparent reason and eating and sleeping patterns may be disturbed.
Looking at the long term effects on children, depression and low self esteem generally transfer into adulthood. Substance abuse, sexual problems and criminal behaviour are behaviours which are at risk of being taken up in later life, as a result of witnessing domestic violence.
Children of victims are also at risk of continuing the violence in their own adult relationships because their parents failed to teach conflict resolution skills, and instead modeled violent behaviour and abuse. In other cases, the impact of domestic violence can extend to people not directly involved. For example, the effects can flow onto other children not experiencing domestic violence through bullying or aggression.
Those children who survive the ordeal “unscathed” are those with average or above average intellectual development and high feelings of self esteem.
I agree with this article, but not entirely.
The last paragraph, regarding the type of child to emerge unscathed by the effects of domestic violence, being of average or above average intellectual development and high self esteem, I feel is a little grand in statement.
I feel that no matter the intellectual level of the child, who has experienced domestic violence, each individual touched by such adverse behaviours is scarred to varying degrees throughout their lives. No matter how effectively they have been able to deal with the consequences on their emotional and psychological (for some, physical) state.
Each life experience leaves ‘its mark’. The greater the experience, the greater the impact, regardless of intellectual level. Perhaps the greater the strength of the individuals character, the greater capacity for the tolerance and recovery of the legacy of domestic violence.
Personally, I have known children of varied levels of intellectual capacity/intelligence still bare ‘scars’ attributable to their experiences of domestic violence.
Maintaining a healthy self-esteem can be a delicate balancing act for anyone (generalization) who has experienced domestic violence (and the effects of). Even with the most effective interventions and therapy, there can be ebbs and flows when life occasionally can provide images similar to those experienced by the individual (victim of domestic violence).
Unfortunately, I feel we will never truly have a concise ‘picture’ of the impact of domestic violence on all individuals affected by such. As a lot of this sort of adverse activity is kept private and not reported (by the victims). Not all individuals seek help, sadly.
We can only presume, on the statistics made available to us, what the effects and ramifications are for the affected individuals.
By the way, I’m enjoying reading the blog posts. They are informative and interesting. Thanks.
Good point Louise.
Any experience leaves its mark, whether it has positive or negative outcomes. In this case, the term “unscathed” was used to define a ‘more positive’ situation. Naturally, as you noted, the child will be affected and it is almost impossible to ascertain the extent of such effect.
I have added a couple of inverted commas to better clarify the meaning of the sentence.
Thank you for your comment and compliments!