The issue on violence has always been a sensitive topic around the globe considering its impacts and the way it is conducted. A majority of today’s population abhor the use of violence in any way or reason as the impacts are more severe for the people, especially for those caught within the violence. In a social level, violence is strictly forbidden especially towards women and children. However, there is a steady trend of cases wherein women and children – including some men – are becoming victims of abuse and violence. Studies have indicated several causes of domestic violence throughout the years, as well as the nature of abusers. However, when it comes to the impact of domestic violence on children, studies emphasize the gravity of the situation and how it changes children. In a direct level, domestic child abuse would bring children vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual abuse by the perpetrators while in an indirect level, children to experience physical, mental, emotional and social turmoil that can affect them through their lifetimes.
Direct Impact of Domestic Violence to Children
Children who have witnessed or were exposed to domestic violence tend to become victims themselves as the perpetrator would their attention to them and subject them to various types of abuses. Abuses can either be psychological, physical and sexual abuses that may vary in severity and frequency each time. According to Osofsky (2003), studies highlighted that children are physically abused and neglected, often battered alongside their mothers or fathers. Some of these children are even subjected to abuse for the rest of their lives and experts nowadays use it as a sign that the family is at high risk to domestic violence and abuse . Aside from physical abuse, domestic violence also triggers sexual and emotional/psychological abuse as stated by the Child Welfare Information Bureau (2013). Sexual abuse often entails incest, rape and sexual exploitation of the child. Emotional abuse or psychological abuse, on the other hand, affects the child’s emotional and psychological state as the abuser tends to target the child’s self-worth to stop them from tattle tailing their experience or what they saw in the family .
Indirect Impact of Domestic Violence to Children
When it comes to indirect impacts of domestic violence, the impacts can be seen in the child’s physical, emotional, mental and social condition. In a physical level, Osofsky (2003) stated that children tend to showcase stunted growth and development as a consequence of domestic violence. Experts believe that it is the trauma they experienced that causes them to regress to their younger age as a means to escape from the trauma caused by domestic violence. Emotionally and mentally, children tend to experience mood and anger issues as some children may blame themselves from the growing ordeal at home. Some children may exhibit signs of aggression and other psychological incapacities such as depression, anxiety and intense stress. It is common, according to experts that these children tend to fear the possibility of losing their parent and would incite to guilt and anger for their abuse. Unless something is done, these children may even see violence as the only way to resolve their problems even if they know it is dangerous or unacceptable .
Finally, domestic violence tends to change’s the child’s attitudes in a social level. Goddard and Bedi (2010) stated in their study that children who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence tend to showcase high post-traumatic stress disorder and lowered self-worth that prevents them from mingling with their peers. There is also a reported decline in school function and development as children tend to fail in verbal and reading comprehension . In another article of the Child Welfare Information Bureau (2013), children become antisocial and develop personality disorders that affects their capacity of creating affection and relations with others. In some instances, children who have been immersed to domestic violence and abuse tend to become juvenile delinquents and even practice acts such as substance use and sexual activity .
Domestic violence should never be tolerated as women should be treated with respect and love and children should never be subjected to such horrific action in a place where love and compassion should reign. Whether or not they just witnessed the event or have been victimized by the perpetrator, domestic violence leaves not just a short-term mark on the child but a trauma that cannot easily be cured in a long time. In an immediate extent, children who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence are often subjected to various types of abuse themselves. As the violence continues, these children would exhibit signs of stunted physical and emotional development that can even be dangerous if it is not treated or resolved. Children should be loved and taken care of by their families as these children would no doubt carry such experience in the future, which they may replicate unless they are treated.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, D.C.: Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). What is Child Abuse and Neglect? Recogniing the Signs and Symptoms. Washington, DC.: Child Welfare Information Gateway.
Goddard, C., & Bedi, G. (2010). Intimate partner violence and child abuse: a child-centred perspective. Child Abuse Review, 19, 5-20.
Osofsky, J. (2003). Prevalence of Children's Exposure to Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Prevention and Intervention. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(3), 161-170.