What is domestic violence?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” This can look different in every situation from physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse that can occur frequently or infrequently. No matter the manner in which the abuse takes place or how often the abuse happens, there is a constant theme of one of the individuals in the relationship who demands control over the other. There are several factors that may increase the likelihood of domestic violence such as the age of the mother, poverty, unemployment, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Devastating Effects on Children
Domestic violence can have devastating effects on children. Studies have shown that children can become constantly on-guard and fearful due to never knowing when the domestic violence will occur within their home. Home is a place in which children should feel safe and taken care of but domestic violence often steals this freedom from them. These children may not feel safe in their own homes whether or not the violence is toward them or another individual in the home and they may feel that their lives must be kept secret due to the embarrassing and scary events that occur within the home. Children who have been exposed to domestic violence often have issues in school including learning difficulties and attention and memory problems.
Problems into Adulthood
The short-term effects that children experience from domestic violence can be devastating and these effects may continue into adulthood affecting many aspects of life. Psychological disturbances, especially Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder “PTSD”, is prevalent in children as well as adults who have experienced domestic violence. Individuals with PTSD experience similar problems as those who have been exposed to war and combat. Being exposed to domestic violence can alter an individual’s DNA causing them to age 7-10 years prematurely. Unfortunately children who experience domestic violence are three times more likely to be involved in domestic violence in adulthood.
There is no doubt about the seriousness of domestic violence, especially when it comes to its impact on children and their growth and development. Beyond the immediate effects of domestic violence, our children’s future is greatly impacted. Check out our corresponding articles on how to recognize, escape, and recover from domestic violence.