Domestic violence and children do not mix. Abuse is a terrible thing to witness, let along live through on a daily basis, especially for a child. There are many aspects of domestic violence that effect the people involved and those that witness it. Domestic violence does not have to be physical. It can be mental as well. No matter what type of domestic violence occurs, everyone involved suffers.
When children are a witness to domestic violence in any form, the scars from the events are left with them for a lifetime. Children need to get domestic violence help into the home as soon as possible to prevent further damage and risk of physical harm.
Neglect: Domestic violence and children often leads to other deprivation and neglect because the parents cannot move past the abuse long enough to realize that their children are suffering. In some cases, when things escalate, the children are removed from the home by a social services agency and find themselves with neither one of their parents at their side.
Insecurity: Children that are involved in or surrounded by domestic violence loose all sense of security and have a hard time allowing someone to get close to them in the future. When there the combination of domestic and children is present, isolation becomes normal for both the victim of abuse and the children involved.
Anger: Also in the case of domestic violence and children being in the same home, many of these children live their lives with high levels of anger and hostility. This anger is unfortunately directed in many cases towards those that are trying to help them.
Instead of receiving the love and support offered, the child can be very aggressive and disobedient. The child's behavior may be violent in many cases because it is the only type of relational they have known as they grew up. Children can be really afraid to let go of anger, as this has been such a strong influence in their lives.
Low Self-Esteem: They suffer from low self-esteem and have a very difficult time engaging in social settings in a positive manner.
Educational Failure: Where domestic violence and children within the home are a constant, schooling poses a great challenge for them. These immature young men and women have not learned the coping skills that are necessary to resolve conflicts in a civil manner. All they have known is to be tough and strong at all times. They do not allow themselves to be friendly to other students because this could be seen as a form of weakness. Such emotionally delayed kids have to be strong and tough so that no one will see that the are scared and uncomfortable with the violence that is filling their life outside of school.
Generation Curse of Repeating the Violence: When children grow up in a household of domestic violence they often have severe problems as adults as well. They practice what they were shown as they grew up and they often find themselves repeating the behavior that they feared so much when they were children.
Without the proper treatment they can find themselves as the abuser in their own relationship or even in a relationship in which they are dominated, just as one of their parents were. Often this leads to the next generation of the family having domestic abuse and children in the same household again.
Depression: Children exposed to domestic abuse also grow up to have problems with severe depression as they try to deal with the demons that were inflicted upon them as children.
Get Treatment for Exposed Children: Domestic violence is terrible for the adults involved but can be a much worse problem for the children that witness it or are a victim of it. It is important that, as parents, we show our children love and support and avoid having domestic violence and children in the same environment. If a child has been involved in or witnessed a form of domestic violence, then we should get them the treatment that will help them to live a normal life and to have healthy relationships as they grow to be adults.
Model Appropriate Relationships: It is important that the children grow to understand that the behavior of their parents is not acceptable. They need to know that this is not what a healthy loving relationship looks like and that it is wrong to be physically, verbally, or mentally abusive to anyone. For many children, extensive psychiatric treatment is necessary to help them come to these realizations. Many years of therapy may be enough to help them change their thought patterns that have been instilled in them.
Teach Love and Respect: Children in a loving home will thrive as they begin to age. They will do well in school and go on to have successful relationships. Parents can help their children avoid the domestic violence in their adult lives by teaching them about respect and love. When we show them that it is not acceptable to belittle or harm the people that we love, we are also preparing them to identify the signs of an abusive partner early on so they will not fall into a trap that will be difficult to escape.
All children deserve to know love and to understand what a healthy relationship looks like. Unfortunately, not all children get to see this as they grow up.
If you suspect that a child is being abused or that they are living through the hell that is domestic violence, you have a responsibility to help.
You could start by calling the ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline.
It is important to reach out the the authorities in the area and to inform them of what you suspect. They are trained to handle the situations and will do what is necessary to protect the children. This may mean that they simply do an investigation and help the family get the help that they need to end the aggression. It may also mean that the child will be removed from the situation and will be place in a safe, loving environment.
When a child is removed from their home they will finally be in a place that they can feel safe. They can receive the counseling that they need to help them understand why domestic violence is not something that they must endure.
The earlier a child is removed from the situation or the abuse in the home can be resolved, the easier it will be to help the child become whole again. Children are our future and we have to protect and nurture them. It is possible to heal the internal and emotional scars that are left when domestic violence and children are brought together, and the effect is to harm a child's life. However, the violence needs to be caught early on. It may take a great deal of treatment, but, if the violence can be removed prior to them becoming adults, the process of healing will be much easier to accomplish.
Domestic violence and children being exposed to it, is a very real problem in society. The scars that are inflicted on children due to domestic violence run deep and are very painful. It is extremely important that we, as adults, do all that we can to protect the innocent children that are being exposed to such horrific situations. We can reverse some of the long term negative effects on the children by giving them love and the help they need to move past the violence and on to a healthy, loving life.