Domestic abuse can significantly effect the lives of children, both now and later in life. Some of these effects include:
- Increased risk of child abuse.
- In homes where there is spousal violence, the likelihood of child abuse is 15 times higher.
- Seventy-five percent of men who abuse their spouses go on to abuse the children as well.
- Women are eight times more likely to hurt their children when they are being abused than when they are safe.
- Increased risk of violent and abusive behaviors.
- Adolescent males who see abuse in the home are ten times more likely to abuse their future spouse than those raised in a non-violent home.
- Girls who see abuse in the home are more likely to become involved in abusive relationships than those who don’t are.
- Seventy-five percent of violent children come from homes with domestic violence.
Emotional Trauma – Children may feel:
- Guilty about the abuse and for not stopping it
- Abuse is their fault
- Excessive grief for family problems/loss and for personal loss
- Confused about conflicting feelings toward the parents: love, hate, fear
- Fear of abandonment, the unknown, and personal injury
- Anger about the violence and the chaos in their lives
- Embarrassed about events and dynamics at home.
Behavioral problems (often seen in opposite extremes)
- Act out/withdraw
- Needy/overly independent
- Low self-esteem/overbearing
- Refuse to go to school
Other behavioral problems:
- Become caretakers for younger siblings and for parent(s)
- Act aloof, sarcastic, defensive
- Wet bed
- Frequent nightmares
- Trouble setting own limits and/or following directions
- May scream excessively when infants
- Isolated from friends and relatives
- Relationships are frequently stormy, start intensely and end abruptly
- Difficulty in trusting, especially adults
- Poor conflict resolution and anger management skills
- Excessive social involvement (avoid home life)
- May be overly passive with peers, or bully peers
- Engage in exploitive relationships either as perpetrator or victim
- Play with peers gets exceedingly rough.
- Somatic complaints (headaches, stomachaches)
- Nervous, anxious and a short attention span
- Tired, lethargic
- Frequently ill
- Poor personal hygiene
- Regress to previous developmental stages such as: bedwetting, thumb sucking
- Desensitization to pain
- High-risk play and activities
- Self abuse